Supporters learn firsthand about CU’s impact, challenges at CU Advocacy Day

By Staff

By Chris Casey and Cathy Beuten

The vital role the University of Colorado plays in ensuring student success and creating the next generation of leaders was celebrated and affirmed at CU Advocacy Day at the state Capitol March 22.

The morning program featured guest speaker Natalie Mullis (CU-Boulder, '94, '98), chief economist from the Colorado Legislative Council staff, who told advocates some good news: Colorado’s general fund revenue is projected to be $227.9 million higher this fiscal year than an earlier forecast, which might mean a one-time boost to CU and other institutions of higher education. The better-than-expected growth in income tax revenue, from individuals and corporations, is credited with the forecast’s increase, she explained.


Advocates visited the galleries at the Senate and House.

She cautioned, however, that the boost is short term and -- as Todd Saliman, CU's vice president for budget and finance and chief financial officer reinforced in his presentation – state funding for higher education is on a trajectory to disappear within the next decade.

CU Advocacy Day drew more than 200 participants from throughout the community, including CU Advocates, campus leadership, more than 35 members of the legislature and several students who spoke about the university's life-changing influence during a lunch reception at First Baptist Church.

“I always knew I wanted to go to CU-Boulder. I chose it because of its focus on sustainability, and being just far enough away from home (in Denver),” CU-Boulder undergrad Julia Harrington told participants. “I was confident that I would find my passion at CU and I was right. It ended up being more than I imagined… I’ve been exposed to a vast diversity of thought that has shaped how I see this world.”


From left, Sen. Rollie Heath, President Bruce D. Benson, and CU Denver Chancellor Don Elliman

“The difference CU Denver has made in my life, and the CU system, is mind boggling,” said Gordon Hamby, a senior in communications. “There's been so much outreach and support.” “All of the things going on at the Anschutz Medical Campus can't be rivaled at any other institution in the country,” said Ajay Thomas, a candidate for doctorate and doctor of medicine degrees at CU Anschutz Medical Campus. “I can't imagine a better place that I'd want to be besides CU.”

CU President Bruce Benson, along with campus leadership, highlighted the university's powerful economic impact and key contributions to workforce development. “Employers want people with high- quality degrees that bring strong skill sets and critical thinking. We generate nearly half of all the degrees in the state of Colorado and the vast majority of graduate and professional degrees,” Benson said. He also thanked all the legislators and advocates for their support of CU.

CU Advocacy Day was hosted by the CU Office of Government Relations and CU Advocates Program. Congressman Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, spoke at the event. Regents Steve Bosley, Joe Neguse and Vice Chair Sue Sharkey also participated.