Photos: CU-Boulder proposes 8.7 percent tuition hike after $170M sports-facilities-upgrade pitch
Could the university have prevented this sort of linkage by making the announcements at different times, rather than back-to-back? "There really isn't any way to do that," Hilliard says. "There are so many things at the university involving costs that are on time schedules. The regents have their calendar for discussing tuition; they've got to discuss it with enough leeway and enough time to set it. They start that discussion in February and set the tuition usually in the springtime, sometime between February and April, so that young people who are accepted at the university and are going to enroll the following fall know how much they're going to pay. And that calendar is completely separate from the Boulder campus calendar of announcements. We always planned to make the upgrade announcement early in the new semester -- we thought January or February. So the timing issue couldn't be avoided...no way to create a clear separation in people's minds."
For that reason, expect a considerable number of students -- including those enrolled at the College of Arts & Sciences, who will pay around $704 more per year to attend CU-Boulder if the tuition plan wins approval -- to complain about the sporting expenditure. CU president Bruce Benson makes a valid point when he says "intercollegiate athletics is the front porch of the university," and there's no doubt the student body was humiliated by the awful performance of the CU Buffs football team this past year. But that won't make this week's pair of announcements any easier to process for budget-conscious enrollees or parents (another disclosure: My two daughters currently attend CU).
That's no surprise to Hilliard. "Communicating about the university's finances is one of the biggest public-relations challenges we face," he says. "The financing is complicated and not widely understood -- and because less than 5 percent of our budget comes from the state, that forces us to be very entrepreneurial and private-fundraising-oriented. We have to leverage the dollars we get to the maximum to get things done.
"And that's a very complicated story to tell."
Here are images from presentation about the athletic-facilities upgrade:
Continue for more images of the athletic-facilities-upgrade proposal.