Staff Council hears latest on strategic planning process

State’s equal pay act also a topic of discussion at meeting

Encouraging the university community to offer feedback on the CU strategic planning process, President Mark Kennedy and Angelique Foster, assistant vice president of strategic initiatives, briefed the University of Colorado Staff Council on the plan’s progress during the group’s meeting Feb. 20 at 1800 Grant St.

Step one of the process – enumerating best practices in targeted areas – has been completed and summarized results have been posted at The report identifies best practices and opportunities for the future in four areas: affordability and student success; discovery and impact; fiscal strength; and diversity, inclusion, equity and access.

Nine designated working groups also have drafted proposed metrics to measure progress made in achieving cited goals. Those metrics should be finalized in the next few weeks, Foster said.

“Part of the challenge of any good strategic plan are the metrics, and some of these are difficult to define,” Kennedy said. “Once that is done, the action steps will be directed toward moving that dial.”

Step three in the process will be to define the action steps. Early in April, members of the working groups will get together to prioritize ways in which the university will move forward to achieve the agreed-upon goals.

Kennedy said he has scheduled time to discuss the draft plan with community groups, donors and other stakeholders before delivering it to the Board of Regents in July.

To offer feedback on the planning process, visit or email

Kennedy also noted that the university is studying ways to improve its online education programs and uncover any internet technology inefficiencies to instead turn those issues into new capabilities.

Council members also received an update on university efforts to ensure compliance with the state’s new Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, which will take effect Jan. 1, 2021. The law prohibits employers from paying a different wage rate for substantially similar work, with some exceptions. Anyone experiencing pay discrimination that violates the law has two years to file a civil lawsuit against the employer.

Despite federal legislation, women still earn significantly less than male counterparts. According to a March 2018 report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and The Women’s Foundation of Colorado, women in the state earn 86 cents for every dollar that men earn. Latinas earn 53.5 cents and black women earn 63.1 cents for every dollar earned by white men.

CU Boulder’s Kym Calvo, assistant vice chancellor, compensation and talent acquisition, said a collaborative effort between all campuses is underway to define and categorize jobs, keeping in mind that employees in similarly named positions may not perform similar job duties, depending on the campus.

Currently, Calvo said, pay rate is often a campus or department decision, and the ultimate effect of the law might be more standardization across a campus or the system.

“This is an opportunity to make compensation make more sense, but we are challenged because this is a substantial amount of culture change in a short amount of time,” Calvo said.

The task of defining “substantially similar” jobs is complicated by other factors, Calvo said, including the university system having more than 35,000 positions. “Higher ed has different employment categories and the solutions are different for each of these. The law doesn’t think about that.”

Other states have similar laws, but none match Colorado’s new law. That means there are no precedents or examples to follow, Calvo said.