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ColoradoSPH Dean Dr. Cathy Bradley with Dean's Commentary white text and blue mountain background

Understanding Our Financial Landscape and the Plan for Making Us Even Better

minute read

This month I conducted a town hall where I presented the Colorado School of Public Health’s budget, enrollment, and an approach for moving forward. For many of my colleagues, the discussion about the budget and financing of the school was surprising. We don’t receive funding from many of the sources that other schools on our campus rely upon. Because of this, our school must be creative in its pursuit of external funding sources and broadening its funding base across all areas of opportunity (technological innovations, large foundations, state support, and the like). Each is integral to our students, faculty, and staff.

Opportunity often arises from constraints.  It was incredibly energizing to see and feel the response from those listening to the town hall. Faculty, staff, and students stepped forward and asked how they could be engaged in the sustainability and growth of our school. Some want to contact their legislators, and others stand ready to meet with benefactors to advocate for more charitable support and everyone is engaged in grant writing. My goal for this and future newsletters is to engage you in the pressing issues, including the budget, to share the latest updates about ColoradoSPH, and to showcase opportunities where we can work together. This month, I want to recap the town hall presentation, summarize the challenges, and present what we must do to address those challenges so that we can thrive as a premier school of public health and indispensable community asset.  

Let’s start with our revenue sources. Our largest source of funding is tuition. For this reason, it is critical that we maintain steady and strong enrollment in the school’s programs. Nearly all of our faculty and most of our staff are also engaged in research. Research funds cover the lion’s share of salaries and expenses related to research. Unlike other professional schools on campus, we do not generate clinical income as our mission is to change the conditions before such clinical care is needed. That is the essence of public health. We also receive a small amount of the state funding directed to the CU System and the Anschutz Campus. We do not receive any financial support from clinical institutions or providers nor are we the beneficiaries of those large philanthropic gifts whose names are emblazoned on buildings across the state. We are a young school and some of these new funding opportunities will come in time and with maturity.  At present, however, we remain focused on boosting our impact in Colorado and our role as the go-to public health school in the Rocky Mountain Region. 

What are the challenges associated with the revenue stream described earlier? Tuition is a primary source of revenue. We will maintain a competitive, highly desired curriculum that attracts students nationwide. We are second only to the School of Medicine—a much larger and established school--in research dollars at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus and we are in the top 20 among Schools of Public Health in generating National Institutes of Health dollars. This speaks to the creativity and tenacity of our faculty, staff, and students. Our research programs keep us current, relevant, and at the forefront. We are responding with real-time data to understand the demands of emerging public health problems and to meet existing needs. Your Colorado School of Public Health will stay current and grow strategically.  We are on the right track with our new PhD program in climate and health and our population mental health concentration—first in the region and the largest concentration in our Master’s of Public Health program — respectively. But we cannot stop with these new additions; we need to further evaluate current curriculum offerings, research projects, and public-private-philanthropic partnerships to ensure we are responsive to the changing landscape in public health and remember that every student counts. I hope that the community will engage in this effort to help drive new directions and offerings. 

Another important challenge for our young school of public health is the absence of a clearly defined and engaged constituency. This is something we can change by becoming indispensable to those we serve. Think about the other schools on campus and their constituents. The School of Medicine has grateful patients, alumni, health care systems, and many others at their side. The School of Dental Medicine also has patients and a long-standing alumnus who are deeply engaged. Similarly, the Pharmacy and Nursing Schools span more than 100 years in some cases.  We are no different, but we need to harness the energy and engagement of the many constituents we serve—departments of public health, the foundation community, students, alumni, first responders, and so many more. 

What is on the horizon for the coming months? Re-engaging our founding funders, building stronger relationships with our alumni, calling for more targeted philanthropy, remedying the amount of funding we receive, and most importantly, becoming indispensable to our constituents. We are the Colorado School of Public Health and foundational to this institution is ensuring that Coloradans can live, work, and thrive in the Centennial State. We tend to be silent partners when we should leverage our partnerships to lobby on our behalf.  Going forward, we will do more to position ourselves as leading experts and conveners of public health and make sure that our contribution to building the public health workforce is known and supported.  

We tend to quietly do our work and without the expectation of a return. What we could do instead is leverage our partnerships to advocate on our behalf.  As we continue to position ourselves as leading experts and essential voices for public health in Colorado, we need to make sure that our contribution to building the public health workforce is widely known and championed by the community. And, we will call upon you to be at our side in this endeavor.  

  • When you see an invite, please attend key ColoradoSPH events.  
  • Philanthropy and grants fuel our innovative work and support our students. You can learn more about our initiatives here.  
  • Stay current on school matters by following us on social media and across platforms.  
  • If you or your friends, colleagues, and family want to learn more about ColoradoSPH, be sure all are subscribed to our newsletter and alerts.  
  • Share your ideas and engage with our leadership team by contacting us here.  

With your support, I am confident we can fulfill our vision of elevating public health and creating a healthier future for all. 

Topics: Deans Notes