Oct. 24, 2023

As fiscal-year 2025 budget planning shifts into high gear over the next few months, I want everyone in the Metropolitan State University of Denver community to be invested in the process. Now is the time to confer with your supervisor, chair or University Planning and Budget Advisory Committee (UPBAC) representative as you prepare to provide input into divisional budget proposals!

To guide this process, I have set our overall budget priorities for next fiscal year. These priorities are aligned with our 2030 Strategic Plan and the investments needed to ensure the future success of the institution. The departmental budgets that you develop likewise should align with the University’s Strategic Plan while keeping the following tenet top of mind.

All budget decisions at MSU Denver should recognize the importance of keeping the cost of education affordable for our students. This is critical to carrying out our mission, boosting degree-completion rates and improving upward social mobility. It is incumbent on us to spend our money as efficiently as possible to best serve our students. This includes providing faculty and staff with the tools and resources necessary to most effectively support students. Departments are charged with focusing on operational efficiencies and supporting students and faculty while returning savings or directing them to strategic priorities.

I’ve identified five spending priorities for the FY25 budget. Each of these priorities continues ongoing work to advance the objectives of the University’s Strategic Plan.

  1. Investing in our people. Supporting MSU Denver’s faculty and staff is the most important factor in helping students succeed and in preparing them for the modern workforce. That’s why compensation is the largest and most important investment in the annual budget. Human Resources is implementing a pay-equity study that will evaluate employee compensation and will identify how best to structure compensation systems to maximize existing resources in this challenging economy. This priority aligns with Pillar V of the Strategic Plan – Organizational Agility and Sustainability.
  2. Fiscal health. The budget needs to be developed within a context of ensuring the ongoing fiscal health of the University. That includes budgeting in a way that allows us to re-build our fund balances and developing new revenue streams to support all of our priorities. To rebuild funds depleted during the pandemic, we must increase reserves by 1% of the total operating budget every year, with the goal of building a reserve balance equal to 15% of our annual budgets by 2027. Healthy reserves not only help us address unanticipated needs; they also allow us to invest more strategically. We also need to increase revenue streams to support all of our priorities. An essential component of developing those revenue streams is building the infrastructure of University Advancement to allow it to continue the success of its ongoing fundraising campaign, build a healthy endowment and sustain fundraising beyond the campaign.
  3. Student success/advising structures. It is critical to our mission that we prioritize initiatives that support student success – defined by increased retention and degree-completion rates – with a particular focus on advising structures. This priority aligns closely with Pillars I and II of our Strategic Plan.
  4. Preparing Coloradans for the modern workforce. In addition to focusing on retention and completion, budgets should emphasize post-completion outcomes, industry partnerships, career pipelines and building a more diverse workforce. They should support the success of MSU Denver students as they enter and participate in the workforce following their journeys from high school through college. This priority aligns with Pillar III of the Strategic Plan, which calls for the University to play an active role in the community, and Pillar IV, which defines our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.
  5. Infrastructure development. Finally, we need to support campus infrastructure. Four major building projects are in various phases of planning, including the C2 Hub, Health Institute and housing. Additionally, we need to maintain our existing campus facilities and partner with the Auraria Higher Education Center to sustain and improve them, a priority tied to Pillar V of the Strategic Plan.

In addition to designing budgets around these priorities, budget owners should review priorities from previous years (such as Stuff That Works) and incorporate into the FY25 budget only those proven effective. Please plan to sunset initiatives that have been less effective or consist of temporary activities.

Any requests for limited additional funding must be selected, ranked and proposed to University leadership and UPBAC based on the priorities outlined above.

Budget owners will receive a budget circular from the Office of Budget in early November. The document will include specific assumptions and instructions on preparing budget proposals.

Special thanks to the budget team, led by Chief Financial Officer Jim Carpenter. Powered by upgrades to our systems via Workday along with revamped processes, the team’s efforts to modernize our budget are already resulting in a more transparent and inclusive model. I hope that this direction for evaluating budget priorities helps you align priorities with your departmental budget proposals and with our mission of preparing our students for Colorado’s modern workforce.

Please learn more about the process and contact your UPBAC representative here.



Janine Davidson, Ph.D.