The Online Acceleration Committee (OAC) that is working to recommend a structure for CU’s combined online offerings for fall 2021 and beyond is pausing its work to take a deeper dive into the financial model. CU President Mark Kennedy and the four campus chancellors last week in an email told members of the OAC and its five working groups that they expect the pause to last up to six weeks.
Key findings from the recent update from the OAC’s finance working group have shown that, as proposed, the financial model is not viable for the campuses or the system. The break-even point, depending on assumptions, was a minimum of six years out.
“A sustainable financial model provides the foundation for all other aspects of the initiative to flourish. We have to get it right,” the president and chancellors wrote. “Finding the path to a viable model, which we continue to believe is possible, requires reexamining the underlying assumptions with fresh eyes.”
The president and chancellors agreed to bring in external advisors who are deeply familiar with financing online efforts. An agreement is expected to be finalized this week. The OAC originally intended to make its structure recommendations in October. The email noted the pause should not significantly affect the target to launch the online initiative in fall 2021.
“One of the lessons learned from our Elevate project (systemwide HR platform upgrade) a few years back was that we need expertise at the table for key moments in large, systemwide initiatives, particularly projects that involve technology. This is one of those moments,” the president and chancellors wrote.
EY-Parthenon, which did the first-phase assessment of CU’s efforts and made operational recommendations in the current phase, will pause during the coming six weeks as well, and continue its work once their phase of the project resumes.