Regents eye metrics to measure system, campus successes

Board agrees on ‘guide to where we’re going’
By Staff

The University of Colorado Board of Regents agreed on a set of metrics that will give tangible evidence of the university’s progress, as well as a clear picture of areas where it must improve.

In Tabernash at its annual summer retreat July 11-13, the board heard from Vice President for Finance and CFO Todd Saliman, who spearheaded the project.

“This is a tool for you to judge the progress and the performance of the president, chancellors, campuses and all of us,” Saliman said.

He worked with campus chancellors and their teams over several months to home in on the key measures of the university’s success under the broad headings of affordability and access, student success, fiscal sustainability, and reputation and impact.

The process was guided by the regents’ Strategic Vision framework. The resulting metrics outline is a living document the regents and administration agreed will provide a solid overview of CU’s key imperatives.

“It’s like our guide to where we’re going,” said Regent Irene Griego.

Many of the metrics have specific numeric goals, such as four- and six-year graduation rates, degrees awarded, enrollment, gift revenue and economic impact. Each has a 2017 baseline number and a five-year goal projected to 2023.

Saliman said a particular metric will be addressed in depth at each upcoming board meeting.

“We want to have an ongoing conversation and an in-depth conversation on particular metrics,” he said.

CU Denver Chancellor Dorothy Horrell said the approach will let campuses dive deeper into each metric.

“It will allow us to spend time with regents talking about how we manifest each issue, and examining the underlying factors,” she said. “It keeps us moving in the direction we’ve already started. Aligning all that and leveraging that is certainly an opportunity.”

The wide-ranging metrics effort will also explore factors such as alumni satisfaction ratings, patents awarded, online enrollment, student debt and the ratio of institutional aid vs. tuition.

“We don’t want to just look at them as check marks, we want to look at the broader implications – things like retention rates, internships, how we’re engaged in the community,” said UCCS Chancellor Venkat Reddy.

Some of the regents suggested things that were missing or needed more prominence, intellectual diversity chief among them.

“Diversity of thought needs to be much more prominent,” said Regent John Carson. “This is the very heart of what the American university is all about. We have got to present our students with a full range of thought.”

Regent Heidi Ganahl echoed Carson’s point.

“Many of us on the conservative side feel under-addressed in higher education. We want to measure this somehow and we want to move the needle. We’re here to represent our constituencies and our communities,” she said.

Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Lightner said the university should focus on its areas of greatest need.

“We hire based on expertise, we don’t hire based on political affiliation,” he said.

Yet he also said there is no place for any kind of discrimination on campuses, including political thought.

Saliman said his group will refine the metrics to reflect the regent discussion and would continue the conversation at each upcoming board meeting.