Benson speaks of 'ton of challenges' before Faculty Senate

President says he remains mindful of compensation for faculty, staff

During an appearance at the meeting of Faculty Senate and Faculty Council on Thursday, Oct. 28, CU President Bruce D. Benson said that paying attention to compensation for faculty and staff is vital as the university deals with yet another year of threatened state funding.

"I'm looking for everything we can do," said Benson, who has continued to express interest in possibly expanding the university's tuition benefit to apply to dependents. "With the salary freezes, everybody's basically taking pay cuts. And when you look at PERA and insurance costs, there's less in your paycheck to take home. We've got to figure out how to pay our people appropriately, so let's be thoughtful about it."

Benson said the university faces "a ton of challenges," but praised the abilities of leaders throughout the university system as they work together to improve efficiency and achieve cost savings.

That cooperation could extend to other institutions of higher education, said Benson, who pointed to potential shared services with Colorado State University as a way of saving money at both research institutions. Though no specifics have been identified, sharing of library, human resources, information technology and payroll functions are on a list of potential areas for cooperation.

"We could be doing other people's payroll," Benson said. "Going across the governing board lines is really important in order for the state of Colorado to be efficient."

Enhanced revenue is key to the university's future as well, he said. The goal of recruiting more international students to the Boulder campus could mean up to gains of $75 million. A comprehensive fundraising campaign that will be announced early next year also will be vital for bolstering CU.

In other business at last week's meeting, the Faculty Senate and Council:

  • Heard a report from Clayton Lewis on the Privilege and Tenure Committee, which manages the faculty grievance process. He said there have been "remarkably few" cases this year, mentioning the filing of only one grievance among 5,429 faculty and six total complaints, with no cases currently active. "This reflects in part the success of Weldon Lodwick and the administration in settling complaints ... and may perhaps reflect faculty insecurity."
  • Heard an update on the Integrated Student Information System, or ISIS, from Kari Branjord, the project's executive director. She said team members have been working with campuses to address concerns about functionality with the new system. Because faculty members use multiple different grading applications throughout the system, the ISIS team is at work on making sure interfaces with those applications will successfully communicate with ISIS.