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Funding is a university’s biggest challenge, interim boss says

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Photo courtesy of ecoliblog.com

By William J. Dagendesh

wj.dagendesh@colostate-pueblo.edu 

Funding will continue to be a university’s biggest challenge as long as money needed for program improvement goes toward other projects, said Julio Leon, interim president of CSU-Pueblo.

CSU-Pueblo, like any university, has its share of challenges and funding remains the biggest challenge, Leon said. Institutions of higher learning are always seeking to expand programs and improve quality for students all of which rely on funding which isn’t always available.

However, in the past 15 to 25 years available state funding has gone to higher priority projects, such as building correctional facilities, Leon said. The prison population has increased over recent years which have resulted in building more prisons. When prisons are built, costs go up resulting in less money for programs expansion, Leon said.

Higher education always feels the brunt of these cuts, Leon said.

“Funding is a university’s biggest challenge because things that can be done to enhance academic excellence are related to the need for funding,” Leon said. “Funding plays a role in restricting the ability of how higher education to provide more programs needed to support the economy. So the challenge is getting the most out of the resources that are available.

“Having to do more with less has been the challenge higher education has faced these past 20 years,” Leon said. “Over the years colleges and universities have learned to manage themselves during difficult times. The good news is that universities are resilient because of the community support.”

Indeed, Pueblo is optimistic about the university’s future despite funding issues, Leon said. CSU-Pueblo’s growth in enrollment has attracted students from out-of-state and overseas, he said. The university is the number one choice for many of these people seeking an affordable, quality education, Leon said. Pueblo encourages people to earn a college education through CSU-Pueblo, he said.

“It helps universities to know the community understands the value of a college education,” Leon said.

Getting the most out of available resources poses the greatest challenge to any university, Leon said. Institutions of higher learning are always looking to improve its programs, he said, but have to do more with less because of budget cuts. In the past 15 to 25 years, the level of funding available in the state has gone to higher priority, such as building correctional facilities, he said. 

CSU-Pueblo isn’t facing program cuts or other educational crisis, Leon said, although funding could result in danger. Whatever support the university will receive from the state is tied to the economy, both statewide and nationwide, he said.