Dear Members of the CU Community,
I want to update you on an issue I communicated about before the holiday break, funding for accelerating the systemwide strategic plan and related matters in the University Treasury. As I outlined in December, declines in the market, combined with a disconnect in information provided to administration (detailed in my previous communication), meant we had to delay, pause or stop accelerating elements of the plans across the campuses.
A team of campus and system CFOs, treasury representatives and other CU financial professionals spent considerable time urgently assessing the impact. In December we estimated the gap between what we planned to do and what we could do (between FY 2021-22 and FY 2022-23) at $120 million. The team’s continued work recently led to the conclusion that the actual gap is around $69 million. They arrived at that figure by determining what plans had already been funded (from realized market gains), as well as what commitments had to be paused or stopped. Additionally, they took steps to close the gap by capturing investment gains from an end of 2022 market uptick, as well as revenue from dividends, capital gains and interest earnings in the treasury pool. While the gap in FY 2021-22 and 23 is now smaller, it is still unlikely this revenue source will be available to fund these efforts in future fiscal years.
While the Accelerating the Strategic Plan funds are different from the regular campus operating budgets, and the primary effects will be on strategic plan-related items, each of the campuses is evaluating the impact and their upcoming investments. Campuses will share more specific detail with members of their communities soon.
In addition to the work of determining the extent of the issue, the regents and administration convened a Treasury Investment Process Review Committee to detail lessons learned and to determine what policies and controls need to be restored, refined or added to guard against this type of situation reoccurring. The committee, which comprises campus and system CFOs, the interim treasurer, the associate vice president for internal audit and regent representatives, had its initial meetings over the past two weeks and will continue in the weeks ahead. It is engaging the services of an independent, external investment advisor to collaborate on assessment of the issues and recommendations. We expect its report, which we will share with the university community, will be complete in March.
Additionally, the Board of Regents has started the process to search for a new university treasurer (who reports to the regents), which will be informed by the Treasury Investment Process Review Committee’s recommendations.
Our strategic plan remains a sound roadmap for what we need to do to meet our mission of serving our students and our state. We recognize the valid concerns around the system regarding not having the funds we expected and the impact on our plans. However, the regents, campus leadership and I are committed to working with the CU community to continue to focus and make progress on our critical priorities outlined in the strategic plan.