College of Arts and Sciences: Strategic Plan Update 2006

Strategic Plan 2030 Map (Updated 3/09)

  • Part I: Overview
  • Part 2: Recent Progress
  • Part 3: Challenges, Revised Goals, and Plans for Action

Part 1. Overview

The College of Arts and Sciences, by far the largest of the colleges in the University of Colorado system, is the intellectual heart of the Boulder Campus, and the main source of its worldwide reputation for outstanding scholarship. It is the College that makes Colorado’s Flagship campus a comprehensive research university. Our departments and programs rank among the international leaders in their disciplines and attract faculty and students of extraordinary talent. The following distinguished faculty all hail from the College of Arts and Sciences: all four Nobel prizewinners; all eight of the campus’s MacArthur Fellows; all eighteen of its National Academy of Science members; forty of the forty three Guggenheim Fellowships awarded to UCB over the last thirty years; and eleven active members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A&S faculty annually produce books, peer reviewed articles, and generate SCH at 120-125% the rate of the non-A&S Boulder faculty. The research and creative work of the faculty are, in turn, essential components of undergraduate and graduate education. Students receive instruction from faculty who are actively engaged in the creation of new knowledge and new creative works. As a comprehensive liberal arts institution, the College offers the unique benefits of a major research university combined with the commitment to curricular excellence typical of a small liberal arts college.

The purpose of this document is to lay out the most important goals for the College in the near future, and the requisite strategies for maintaining, building on and enhancing its acknowledged excellence in research, creative work and teaching. We first outline recent progress that has been made toward goals articulated in the faculty-approved 2002 College strategic plan (attachment 1), then consider current challenges and finally propose next steps toward continued progress.

In 2002, A&S faculty articulated the mission of the College as follows:

  • To preserve, interpret, and convey humane values and learning, while
  • Creating, integrating, and applying knowledge in the arts and sciences, by
  • Ensuring excellence across a broad scope of liberal arts education,
  • Providing a superior learning experience for students, through dedicated teaching, research, and creative work
  • Fostering educational exchange within the University, the Colorado community, and society as a whole,
  • And maintaining a community of teachers and scholars devoted to the preservation and discovery of knowledge and to the well-being of future generations.

This vision is reflected in five specific goals of the College, also adopted by the faculty in 2002, and summarized as follows:

  • Goal: Build and maintain excellence in selected departments and programs across the arts, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences.
  • Goal: Improve the educational experience of graduate students.
  • Goal: Improve the educational experience of undergraduates.
  • Goal: Enrich the community of scholarship and learning through diversity.
  • Goal: Improve the ability of students and faculty to conduct research, produce creative work and integrate scholarship with teaching.

The final goal adopted by the faculty in 2002 is not an end in itself but an essential means to achieving all the above goals,

  • Goal: Expand and diversify the resources available to the College.

Part 2. Recent Progress

The College has made significant strides towards realizing the above-stated goals in recent years. Specific actions, listed below, generally relate to more than one of these. Nevertheless, they are organized into broad groups corresponding to the six goals.

Since 2002, the College has:

  1. Built and Maintained Excellence through Faculty Investment
    1. Recruited 170 tenure track faculty colleagues.
    2. Reduced the number of vacant faculty lines despite budget cuts in 2002/03 from a high of 75 vacant FTE in 2005 to 54FTE by 2007 and projected to be 25 vacant FTE in 2008.
    3. Initiated the first of a multi-year initiative to make our faculty salaries more competitive with those of peer departments in AAU public institutions. We used a unit merit process to strategically allocate the available funding (see attachment 2). Partially funded by the Provost, the College also reallocated $300,000 (equivalent to ~ 4 faculty lines) of its own funds for this purpose.
    4. Created the faculty title of College Professor of Distinction to honor and retain faculty of the highest quality. In the inaugural year of the program we recognized four faculty members with this title and supported their continued excellence by providing them with a one-time research account of $10,000.
    5. Used a one-time funding surplus to provide $1.99M of College funds to support departmental long standing infrastructure and equipment needs to improve the work environment of faculty engaged in research and teaching.
    6. Implemented a $10,000 Library Acquisition fund for each new Humanities and Arts faculty hire in order to strengthen Norlin Libraries collection in areas of current faculty scholarship and teaching.
    7. Distributed gift funds of $150,000 in grants from the Dean’s Fund for Excellence to support the research and teaching of faculty in the College and to enable them to increase the impact of their work.
    8. Subvented numerous fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council of Learned Societies to enable humanists and artists a full funded year of research and creative work.
    9. Established a revamped system of Kayden Awards to promote and support research and publication in Humanities and the Arts.
    10. Built in a funding mechanism to provide annual increases to the lecturer and overload stipend rates, ending a period of nearly 15 years of static funding for this group of faculty.
  2. Improved and Expanded Graduate Programs
    1. Known in the College as “TA/GPTI Stabilization”, we invested $1.06M (roughly the equivalent of 13 faculty lines) to provide continuing base funding for graduate student TA and GPTI support for TA/GPTI lines historically supported by the College but which required uncertain L&R funding requests, which prevented departments from recruiting and committing support to graduate students. The intended result was a larger and higher quality graduate population, and less reliance on last minute TA appointments from a local pool of mixed quality
    2. Created new graduate programs in Film Studies (MFA), Audiology (AuD), Creative Writing (MFA), and contributed courses to a new Ph.D. program initiated by ATLAS.
  3. Broadened the Undergraduate Experience
    1. Initiated the Colorado Challenge to improve the quality and rigor of undergraduate instruction.
    2. Initiated a regular five-year rotating schedule to review all Core Curriculum courses.
    3. Implemented a task force recommendation to reorganize EPOB and KAPH faculty into departments of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) and Integrative Physiology (IPHY). Task Force is currently developing a common introductory life sciences curriculum.
    4. Successfully competed for Quality for Colorado (Q4C) funding earmarked for student enrichment programming. With these funds, we: (i) Initiated a new Visual and Performing Arts Residential Academic Program (RAP) in Fall 2004 in Libby Hall; (ii) Added advisors to the Academic Advising Center to accommodate student growth and achieve a better Advisor to Student ratio; (iii) Completed a development plan for the Program in Writing and Rhetoric (PWR), which now offers writing courses to all students in the College at both first year and third year levels, and which now offers a writing center for all students.
    5. Initiated an early admission program to UCHSC medical school for students on campus.
    6. Initiated the instruction of Hebrew, Arabic, Hindi, and Farsi in the College.
    7. Initiated a new Jewish Studies certificate with existing courses and began work on expanding Jewish Studies at UCB.
    8. Initiated a task force on Asia, which recommended expanding the scope of the existing Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations into a Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations to encompass a wider geographical and cultural focus in both teaching and research.
  4. Increased Diversity
    1. Recruited a diverse tenure-stream faculty community that includes 42.3% women and 25.3% faculty of color. In the most recent hiring year, our 49 appointments included 48% female faculty and 22% faculty of color.
    2. With funding from the President’s office, implemented an experimental project designed to increase the candidate pool of excellent candidates who contribute to diversity. Working with individual departments, we directed broader, wider, and more diversityfocused advertising. The College also increased recruitment funding to departments by 25% in order to facilitate the interviewing of a larger and more diverse finalist pool
  5. Expanded the Research Agenda
    1. Collaborated with Regent Hall and Engineering to initiate an interdisciplinary research program in Systems Biotechnology.
    2. Initiated the “100 FTE” exercise to solicit proposals from the faculty for new research areas and to identify future areas for redirection of resources and new investments
  6. Improved Management, Resources, and Fiscal Oversight
    1. With considerable assistance from the Provost, eliminated deficits which the College had been accruing over the course of many years. The College now has a budget less reliant on vacant faculty lines.
    2. Reorganized and created a College-wide Human Resources Center to handle PeopleSoft transactions for faculty appointments and payroll issues, thus lightening the work load of all departments.
    3. Developed and implemented Financial Service Centers (FSC) to better equip College accounting staff to handle PeopleSoft practices and relieve departments of basic accounting duties. Established the first three FSCs to support departments in the Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences, and some Natural Science units.
    4. Created and initiated web-based systems such as the Leaves and Replacements budget to enable better tracking of resources and commitments.
    5. Revised departmental operating budget algorithms and adjusted funding of all units to equivalent levels based on that algorithm. Raised permanent operating budget support to all departments 11%.
    6. Transformed the College’s Dean’s Advisory Council from a community advisory group to a larger and more engaged fundraising board. Council members have contributed more than $3M in gifts and bequests to the College since that reorientation.
    7. Raised $1.55M in annual gifts and $ 22.03M in endowments for scholarships, fellowships, chairs, and programming (2002-date).
    8. Initiated the Buffalo Bicycle Classic scholarship fundraiser. This annual September event now supports 75 students on $2,000 scholarships, and is the largest single source of scholarship support in the College.
    9. Worked with students, faculty, and administrators to secure $28M in student fee funding and $14M in State support for a new state-of-the-art $56M Visual Arts Complex, to house the Department of Art and Art History and the CU Art Museum

Part 3. Challenges, Revised Goals, and Plans for Action

The above list of accomplishments is evidence of real progress towards our goals. The next five years will be a period of opportunity for the College. State and campus budgets appear to have gained some stability. Important challenges – both financial and substantive – remain. These are outlined below, along with some strategies to meet them.

Challenge #1: Student/faculty ratio constrains research excellence and educational opportunities.

The primary constraint to improvement in the quality of our graduate training, reduction in the size of our undergraduate courses, and in moving our research reputation into the elite ranks of AAU public institutions is the relatively small size of our research active faculty. Our major focus will be to readjust the student/faculty ratio of the College to set the FTE at a level comparable to that of our peer institutions. Comparable student-faculty ratio data are difficult to access, but we offer two formulations to put our current investment in tenure stream faculty into context. In a 4/2006 report based upon 2004 IPEDS data, PBA compared Boulder’s ratio of 33:1 to the AAU Public (non-medical school) ratio of 26:1. Comparing just undergraduate FTE to tenure track FTE, the College of Arts and Sciences (AY05-06) is functioning with a 25:1 ratio, compared to the ten campus UC system (AY05-06) at 19:1. (A recent advertisement for CU Denver highlighted their 15:1 ratio!) Differences of 6-7 students per faculty between us and our AAU peers in this important ratio have profound effects on most other quality measures for our college. These high ratios in A&S translate to fewer but larger courses taught by tenure track faculty than at our peer institutions, fewer tenure track faculty participating in our lower division curriculum, and smaller departments with narrower or thinner disciplinary expertise than our peers. This makes it difficult for many of our departments to mount full graduate programs, compete with advantage for extramural funding, or to break into the Top 20 or Top 10 nationally. These data also reflect the problem of needing to rely on temporary instructors to do much of the teaching in the College, and also suggest that faculty research time is decreased relative to our peers. Improving this ratio allows the College to provide its best product to the State and Nation, and to function as a true””Flagship University.” A lower student/faculty ratio will bring more active researchers into the classroom, thereby improving the educational experience of our students, increase the volume and progress of research done on campus, and help maintain our competitiveness for external funding. Improving the ratio will also, incidentally, improve the College’s ranking in comparisons with peers. NOTE ADDED IN PROOF: Census data of Fall 06 indicates that A&S student numbers and SCH produced have been increased over Fall 2005 (by roughly 270 students and 3,000 SCH) without any resource compensation. At the same time, Business and Engineering have enjoyed reductions in SCH production, presumably without reduction of resources.

Addressing student/faculty ratio would necessitate assignment of 11.7 tenure track faculty at a 23:1 ratio. Adopting a strategy whereby the enrollment surge did no additional harm (25:1) would require 10.8 FTE additional. These data should illustrate the erosive effect of unplanned enrollment increases and the differential effect that they have had on the College of Arts and Sciences.

GOAL #1: Reduce student/faculty ratio

Our goal is to seek campus investment and align our priorities and strive to achieve a UG FTE/tt FTE ratio of 20:1. This is an ambitious goal, as with current undergraduate enrollment this will require 165 new tenure track faculty lines, and adequate additional staff, office, and research space to support their scholarship. In the next five years, we will strive to attain a 23:1 ratio, requiring 63 additional lines and supporting space and staff.


  • Recruit to strength and expand; aggressively recruit to maintain department/program tenure track faculty rosters at close to full capacity. This requires that we trim other expenses to reduce further budgetary dependence on vacant faculty lines and temporary instructors.
  • Hire more tenure track faculty in disciplines where student demand exceeds capacity.
  • As new faculty lines become available, recruit tenure track faculty in emerging areas of scholarship and in areas that complement existing strengths. We will use as a guide the College’s strategic hiring initiative plan that prioritizes approximately 75 additional faculty positions. This list is appended (Attachment 3).
  • Control undergraduate enrollments and establish a student/tenure track FTE funding formula that allows the College to move towards its goal, and reduces its reliance on last moment adjuncts and temporary appointments.
  • Preserve or increase the current ratio of tenure track to instructor rank faculty, currently approximately 4.7:1 (based on salary-roster PBA data).

Challenge #2: Increased competition for faculty and the best students

In conjunction with our primary goal we need to recognize the importance of competing for the best faculty and students by addressing the related issues of resources. CU is a major research university – but has a lower ratio of graduate students to undergraduates than its peers.

GOAL #2: Increase the support for faculty research and grow the graduateprogram.


  • Hire only the best. Maintain the competitiveness of startup packages across the disciplines. Hire proven mid-career colleagues whenever we can afford to do so. We will continue to work with our budget internally and with the Provost’s Office to remain competitive in this area
  • Keep the faculty we hire. Improve faculty retention by bringing faculty salaries to at least average of their AAU public peers. We will continue to plan with the Chancellor’s and Provost’s Offices to implement years two and three of our merit-based salary supplement plan.
  • Work with the Graduate School to provide stipend, benefit, and workload packages that allow A&S to recruit the best national graduate talent.
  • Increase the size of select graduate programs to support an expanded tenure track faculty. Improve student training opportunities, and meet budgetary targets for the new policy regarding resident tuition status for all students on research and teaching appointment. Programs suited for growth will include those whose students can be supported by Federal grants, and those programs that can attract more tuition-paying students.

Challenge #3: Student expectations and standards of performance

CU Boulder is not unique in facing the issues of grade inflation and decreased undergraduate workloads. Faculty studies on campus have documented the decrease in the number of hours students expect to work outside of their classes in order to master the material they are working on, and exit surveys indicate that our lower division courses may not be as challenging as at some of our peer institutions. Although the College of Arts and Sciences has long had the most rigorous grading practices on the Boulder campus, we need to be sensitive to the importance of ensuring that our graduates are capable members of the professional workforce that this State will need in order to thrive.

GOAL #3: Improve the quality of the undergraduate educational experience and the qualifications of our graduates.


  • Continue the Colorado Challenge initiative, a College-wide conversation that focuses on improving the quality and rigor of undergraduate instruction.
  • Increase the number of students participating in residential academic programs by growing select programs (Libby RAP, KHP) and creating one or more new RAP opportunities in collaboration with Housing and the Provost.
  • Increase the number of tenure track faculty participating in the residential academic programs.
  • Improve Academic Advising services for undergraduates by supporting on-line degree audit and other on-line advising services in conjunction with the new SIS purchase.

Challenge #4 Demographics and Diversity

The College endorses diversity not as a demographic target but as a fundamental value in the education of all its students and as an economic necessity to ensure that the talents of this State’s citizens are fully utilized. The two most effective things that the College can do to enhance the recruitment and retention of a diverse student body are to develop a diverse faculty body, and the promotion of a diverse curriculum. Despite considerable successes in recent hiring years, faculty demographics do not reflect ideal levels of diversity. Clearly this is in part a result of the initial demographic distribution of the tenured faculty, the turnover rate of faculty, the fierce competition among peer institutions for candidates who contribute to diversity, and in some disciplines the demographics of the candidate pool. The College needs to continue vigorously pursuing policies that will maximize chances of hiring excellent faculty who also contribute to the College’s diversity, and to retaining the excellent faculty in whom it has already invested. Increasing faculty diversity with excellent faculty will likely require some new imaginative approaches and increased determination.

GOAL #4: Increase faculty and student diversity


  • Hire excellent new faculty who contribute to diversity. We will continue to provide incentives and additional recruitmentfunds to units in order to increase the pool of candidates who bring diverse perspectives to the unit’s research and teaching, and to hireoutstanding candidates from those pools. We will hire in areas that provide special opportunities, and will explore special efforts to recruit candidates in disciplines where diversity is poorly reflected. Until we have attained a considerably more diverse faculty, every annual budgetary request from this College will include requests for programs in support of this goal.
  • Aggressively retain existing excellent faculty who contribute to diversity. Additional resources will be required to make the scholarly environment attractive for such faculty to stay at UCB in the face of extremely attractive outside offers.
  • Diversify the Undergraduate Curriculum through the expansion of offerings in areas not currently well represented in the curriculum, such as the languages and cultures of the Middle East, Africa, Asia (broadly construed), and Latin America.

Challenge #5 Limited Space

The College faces a space shortage that will become a crisis as we grow our faculty. Although we enjoy some examples of excellent space on campus, as a College we occupy most of the oldest buildings on campus, designed for a different era of education and scholarship. We have graduate students, advisors, and faculty wedged into basement closets, former bathrooms, bungalows, under the Stadium, in converted hallways, and in carrels in windowless rooms. One of our major departments currently has 3 to 5 graduate students assigned to each desk space. Many of our departments lack contiguous space, some dispersed to five or more different locations. These are frequent characteristics of both our science and humanities spaces in the College, and it is not a desired characteristic for a Flagship campus. The quantity and quality of academic space is a challenge to our efforts to sustain and retain our current faculty, let alone address our student/faculty ratio as our first priority. To compete with our AAU peers we need to provide first-rate facilities (faculty offices, classrooms, laboratories, studios, performance spaces) in which students and faculty teach, conduct research, and develop creative works. The College needs to provide adequate facilities for large scattered programs (such as the English Department), for poorly accommodated programs (such as the Program for Writing and Rhetoric, and Integrative Physiology), for programs that look set to expand (such as Environmental Studies and the interdisciplinary Asian Studies program). We will address our space needs both by aggressively seeking to build new facilities and by advocating renovation of existing facilities that currently restrict the teaching and creative enterprise of the College.

GOAL #5: Renovate, relocate, and replace academic space


  • Continue to work with architects, donors, faculty, and State entities to move our Stateprioritized building projects forward. These projects will increase and improve the teaching, research, and creative work spaces for our students and faculty.
    • Visual Arts Complex (now in design phase, breaking ground in Fall 07)
    • Systems Biotechnology Initiative Research Building
    • Ketchum Renovation
    • Middle Ekeley Chemistry Renovation
    • Hellems Renovation
    • Guggenheim Renovation
  • The College will need to occupy the old Fleming Law Building as soon as it has ceased to be used as surge space for Business and AAH. This building, already considered dangerously unfit to accommodate Law students and in need of immediate asbestos mitigation, will suffer further physical deterioration through the surges. It will thus require major renovation and upgrading before it can be permanently occupied. Possible occupants include the English Department, some combination of Social Sciences Departments (e.g. Communication, SLHS, Linguistics), PWR, or some combination of Humanities Departments (e.g. the History Department, Asian Studies).
  • More College activities may need to be located in buildings on East Campus. Biochemistry will move some of its operation to an East Campus Biotech building. The program plan for the new VAC Building (which dates back to 1999) is already too restrictive for the current program, and parts of that program (e.g. Printmaking) may need to be located in the old Marine Street Laundry building.
  • The College will actively participate in planning a next phase of East Campus construction to accommodate the planned migration of science to the East. Tenants might include Integrative Physiology in a Biotech phase II building. Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Environmental Studies, Astrophysics and Planetary Sciences, Applied Math and/or additional components of Chemistry might also be candidates for a move to East Campus.

Challenge #6 Staff Support

Recommendations from Program Reviews of our academic departments and programs repeatedly call to our attention lack of adequate staffing. It is clear that most departments in the College have inadequate staff/faculty ratios compared with our AAU peers. Staff salaries have lagged behind the campus norms, and consequently departments have trouble keeping their most competent staff when other units on campus offer higher salaries for essentially the same or less work. Staff turnover is high and we find that key positions are vacant for increasing periods of time because we cannot find qualified applicants. PeopleSoft and recent policy changes have increased administrative responsibilities at the unit level without corresponding resource increases. The inadequate number of staff, low salaries, and high turnover puts departments and the College at risk for compliance violations, and has made general fund and grant accounting difficult to administer.

GOAL #6: Increase staff support to the student and faculty enterprise


  • Invest in additional staff lines in areas of budget management and program administration with eye towards assuring compliance and improving service to students and faculty.
  • Move salaries of classified staff to levels competitive with the rest of the campus and the private sector to reduce turnover.

Challenge #7 Limited and Unpredictable Financial Resources

Our goals to attain more national prominence for our programs and departments through the reduction in student/faculty ratio, diversification of our faculty, enhanced staff support, and through improvements in the quality and quantity of space will require millions of dollars in new investment, and strategic application of funding that is currently available. Fundamental to new investment of this magnitude will likely be a change in the State’s formulation of tuition and State support for higher education. However, making optimal use of our current financial resources is hindered by the instability of the funding environment in which the College operates. General fund support for the College bears only the slightest relationship to our student enrollment and therefore our instructional expenses. The campus awards faculty FTE without any consideration of associated costs of staff, graduate students, or operating expenses. This in turn requires internal pirating of funds from other sources, often other FTE, to fund these expenses, limiting any real progress. Other funding sources are unpredictable. For example, summer school revenue, an important source for the College, varies 5x one year to the next despite stable summer SCH production because of revenue targets set for the College by the campus that are based on unreasonable growth assumptions. Start-up funding is intermittent. Money for new initiatives is easier to acquire than are funds to invest in existing programs. The combined unpredictability leads to piecemeal investments and avoidance of investment decisions that require sustained effort over several years. The College will play whatever role it can in assisting the campus and system efforts to improve State and tuition funding for CU, but will focus on aspects of financial management that we can influence.

GOAL #7: A more predictable College General Fund budget and an increased endowment


  • Work with the upper administration to develop a more rational instructional funding model for the College, one in which there is a clear and direct relation between student credit hour production and funding for the teaching enterprise so that the College does not have to rob its research and creative resources to pay for its instructional mission.
  • Work with the administration and University Extension to develop a more stable incentive model for profit sharing on the Summer Session.
  • Seek endowment funds for fellowship and stipend packages sufficient to enable the University of Colorado to compete with its peer institutions for the best applicants. Both General Funds and private dollars will be required to address this issue.
  • Expand the number of Development Officers assigned to strategic areas of the College in order to increase the funding stream from gifts and endowment revenue.
  • Increase department and program involvement in the development activities of the College. We will encourage primary unit fund-raising activities, such as newsletters, regular communication with College alumni, and the engagement of faculty.
  • Maintain focus of our fundraising efforts on our priorities and best opportunities. A list of fundraising objectives is attached (Attachment 4).