Funding Sources and Budgeting

2 points

The University of Denver, the oldest independent university in the Rocky Mountain region, is located eight miles south of downtown Denver. DU enrolls approximately 10,850 students in its undergraduate and graduate programs. The Carnegie Foundation classifies DU as a Doctoral/Research University with high research activity, learn more here While DU is an urban institution, its demographics do not reflect its host city. The domestic student body at DU is 82 percent Caucasian, 6 percent Hispanic, 3 percent African American, 5 percent Asian, and 1 percent Native American, with 3 percent unreported. The city and county of Denver, considerably more diverse than DU, includes 53 percent Caucasian, 32 percent Hispanic, 1 1 percent African American, 3 percent Asian, and 1 percent Native American residents.


Although DU has made significant commitments to diversifying its campus, the racial and ethnic disparities between the city and the university have created some tension for the university, which is often labeled an isolated and elite enclave within the city. Moreover, for the past decade, the university has been looking to establish a national identity and, despite a number of significant City-based commitments and initiatives, it has not reached out to local communities in strategic ways. In many ways, the Public Good Scholarship projects have served as the university’s primary outreach arm, although most of those projects are generated and driven by individual faculty members who infrequently connect their work with other Public Good awardees. Finally, since DU is a private institution that does not receive state funding, campus constituents are not required to work with the public in the same way as publicly funded higher education institutions.



Private higher education institutions in the United States enjoy a number of liberties than their public counterparts do not, but they may also endure various constraints. Reliance on tuition revenue rather than state allocations requires special attention to student recruitment and persistence. Such a consumer model is anathema in traditional higher education, but a reality for many small to mid-sized private institutions. Increasingly, higher education institutions are being asked to explicitly document, through outcomes assessment processes, the quality of education they are providing. These institutions also need to ensure that alumni are satisfied in the hope that they will donate. This is especially important for private schools with meager endowments and local or regional, rather than national, reputations. A relatively small endowment can also limit a private institutions ability to recruit and retain high-achieving students and faculty, participate in innovative projects, and tolerate economic downturns or unexpected expenses. Private, heavily tuition-driven institutions with relatively small endowments find themselves trying to balance many competing priorities. Ideally, resource allocations are mission-driven, but if the mission is vague and not shared, defending those allocations can be a challenge. These limitations can contribute to an institutions difficulty in developing and communicating its identity and distinctiveness, as it may try to be everything to everyone in order to fund its operations. At the same time, perceived limitations may be leveraged into opportunities, given a vision and appropriate action.

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