Departments and programs across campus should be optimizing their current budgets and identifying ways to use existing levels of funding to pay for ongoing operating expenses and the cost of new initiatives, Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Budget Office said Wednesday as it prepares to accept budget proposals from each of the University’s six branches. 

Those final, prioritized proposals are due to the Budget Office Feb. 16., a point in MSU Denver’s annual budget cycle when the University Planning and Budget Advisory Committee, known as UPBAC, will begin its review of revenue and branch-prioritized spending plans.  

Last year, MSU Denver shifted to a more strategic, transparent and decentralized approach to managing its finances, emphasizing the importance of aligning budgets with the University’s strategic plan priorities and goals. UPBAC, comprising representatives from all academic and administrative branches across campus, is at the heart of the new process and provides budget recommendations to President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., and other senior leaders. 

Before making its recommendations, UPBAC must weigh spending proposals against projected revenues, which primarily come from tuition and fees and state funding. While revenue-generating enrollment has been trending in a positive direction,  pandemic-era relief funding is sunsetting and the outlook for state funding is less certain.   

Gov. Jared Polis’ proposed budget includes $42 million for the state’s colleges and universities, far lower than the $160 million that higher-education leaders have jointly requested for operations and state financial aid. 

State lawmakers are deliberating what the final funding amount should be, but it’s important for budget owners at MSU Denver to carefully consider how their teams can operate efficiently and strategically next year, regardless of the outcome of state budget deliberations, said Chief Financial Officer Jim Carpenter. 

Jim Carpenter

“Aligning our spending with University strategic priorities is central to our new budget process because it’s the most effective way to carry out our mission of preparing our students for Colorado’s workforce,” Carpenter said. “It’s important that departments and branches develop spending plans that support the strategic priorities President Davidson laid out last fall, even in a scenario in which very limited additional resources become available.”  

In her budget charge for fiscal 2025, Davidson identified five spending priorities that will advance the objectives of the University’s 2030 Strategic Plan: 

  • Investing in people  
  • Ensuring the University’s fiscal health 
  • Student-success and advising structures  
  • Preparing Coloradans for the modern workforce 
  • Infrastructure development 

In November, the Budget Office distributed a circular that provides guidance to senior leaders, budget owners and finance professionals across the University on how to prepare next year’s budgets. The circular includes detailed instructions and information on enrollment, revenue, economic conditions and other factors that UPBAC will consider as the committee reviews budget proposals. 

The circular also provides an overview of the annual budget cycle and calendar.  

“With the deadline to submit budget proposals fast approaching, now is the time for any employee on campus to discuss budget needs with their supervisors and department fiscal managers,” Carpenter said.  

Once budgets have been submitted next month, leaders from each branch will present their proposals to UPBAC, which will make its recommendation to Davidson in May.  

After considering the recommendation, Davidson will submit a final budget proposal to the Board of Trustees for approval in June.