Impact of CCHE's master plan remains to be seen

Financial trigger of performance contract not likely to be reached in near future

The Colorado Commission on Higher Education’s (CCHE) adoption last week of a new statewide master plan boasts aspirational goals that could affect the University of Colorado and other institutions, but any impact isn’t likely to be felt in the near future, university leaders say.

During the Dec. 6 meeting of the Faculty Council and Senate, Kathleen Bollard, vice president for academic affairs, said CU has had “a lot of input” on the metrics included in the plan. Named Colorado Competes, the plan was announced later that day by the CCHE.

“We hope that we can meet all of these (goals), although some are fairly aspirational,” Bollard said.

Final performance contracts are expected to be completed at the end of the month.

One concern Bollard noted: increasing the number of undergraduate degrees awarded by 1 percent annually for five years. “We don’t want to affect the quality of the degrees we produce,” she said.

While speaking to the Faculty Senate later in the meeting, CU President Bruce Benson said he has reservations about the performance contracts, in part because the stipulations only will apply once state funding of higher education reaches $706 million, a level that hasn’t been touched in several years. If and when the budget trigger is reached, performance contracts then only would be tied to funding above $650 million.

According to the CCHE, the performance contracts will establish transparent benchmarks to gauge how Colorado public institutions of higher education are performing in meeting the needs of the state and will be the basis for future performance funding from the state. Statewide goals include:

  • Increase the attainment of high-quality postsecondary credentials by at least 1,000 new certificates and degrees each year with a target of reaching 66 percent postsecondary credential attainment for Colorado citizens age 25-34 by 2025.
  • Improve student success through better outcomes in basic skills education, enhanced student support services and reduced average time to credential for all students.
  • Reduce attainment gaps among students from underserved communities to ensure that the system reflects the changing demographics of the state.

A copy of the master plan is available on the Department of Higher Education’s website.

In other business at last week’s Faculty Council and Senate meeting:

  • Tom Napierkowski, chair of the Privilege and Tenure Committee, reported that there are four active complaint/grievance cases across the system, two from Boulder and two from Denver. The committee also is continuing work on a policy for dealing with faculty in distress, determining appropriate intervention practices for faculty whose work might be affected by substance abuse or mental illness.
  • Laura Borgelt reported that the Women’s Committee is encouraging more faculty to confirm attendance at the CU Women Succeeding symposium, set for February in Boulder. “So far, there is more staff participation than faculty participation,” she said. “This is really a faculty-driven symposium, so please invite colleagues in your departments or schools.” Faculty Council Chair Melinda Piket-May said Colorado Springs and Denver faculty especially are needed to register. Details are at this website.