May 6, 2020

President's communication to faculty and staff, May 6

Dear Colleagues,

The ongoing disruption of COVID-19 is having seismic impacts on our society and our university. The CU community’s response leaves me impressed and appreciative, although we know we have a long way to go and challenging times ahead. Focusing on our priorities takes on greater significance and urgency.

We collectively embarked on the Leaning Into the Future strategic planning process nearly a year ago to identify CU’s priorities. We made great progress in completing the first and second phases. Through active engagement of the university community, we reached broad consensus on the plan’s scope, identified its four pillars and articulated focus areas and metrics. The strategic priorities will serve as guideposts for upcoming fiscal budgeting.

Despite this success, the current crisis and the uncertainty it brings lead me to suspend activity until next spring on the plan’s next phase, refining goals and creating action steps. We will reset our targeted completion date for the July 2021 Board of Regents retreat.

There are compelling reasons to do so. First and foremost, we need to apply our energies to responding to COVID-19 and preparing our campuses to reopen in the fall if we are able. The crisis also makes five-year planning difficult, particularly given significant financial uncertainty. We will be better served using the coming fiscal year as a baseline going forward. Additionally, the funding we hoped to have to invest in selected elements of the plan is in jeopardy. We also need to place sharp focus on our two significant initiatives, Online Learning and the Transformation and Innovation Program.

We will use the coming fiscal year for the stabilization phase of our COVID-19 response. When we resume work on the plan next spring, we will have a much better sense of the landscape and be poised to use the completed plan to move us through the transformation phase. 

The work we have completed will prove valuable. We can align the agreed-upon strategic priorities to track progress and report to the Board of Regents. We can still conduct two meaningful surveys related to diversity and inclusion, as well as wellness and mental health. And we will still make planned investments from initiative funds in an Innovation in Teaching and Learning Fund to be allocated as seed money across the campuses. Other facets of the plan can move forward as well.

We have made great progress together. Yet it is prudent that we recognize the unprecedented environment in which we find ourselves and respond to the crisis at hand while also keeping an eye on the future.

I very much appreciate the hard work of everyone who contributed to the plan to date, from members of the university community who provided input, to the working groups who created a sound foundation to build upon, to the leadership of co-chairs Sharon Matusik and Todd Saliman and the able direction of Angelique Foster.  

I have every confidence that the work done to date will serve us well in the coming year, and by re-engaging to complete the plan once the dust settles, it will help catapult us into a strong position in the new normal that awaits. Until then, thank you for all you do for CU, our students and state.

All the best,