Colorado Economic Recovery and Accountability

Kay Norton

Kay Norton

Kay Norton

"It is impossible to calculate how important this funding has been... It's made a huge difference to UNC."

Kay Norton knows from experience how difficult it is to deal with an economic downturn. Right after taking the job of President at the University of Northern Colorado in July 2002, Norton found out that her university was losing a huge amount of state funding. From 2002 until 2005, the state was forced to cut $1 billion from its budget because of the recession that caused huge revenue shortfalls. Much of the pain was felt at the state’s public colleges and universities, including UNC. At that time, the budget cuts happened quickly and the university was forced to make major changes almost overnight.

Today, UNC and the other higher education institutions in Colorado face another uncertain financial future. But this time, the colleges and universities are able to sustain their programs because of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

So far, UNC has received $14 million in Recovery Act funds. The university, which has more than 12,000 students, 371 full-time faculty and 249 part-time faculty, will receive more than $35 million in total through a Recovery Act program called the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund. Altogether, Colorado colleges and universities will receive more than $620 million to preserve jobs and programs. So far, the funds have helped UNC retain 231 full-time-equivalent jobs. But the impact of the funds is much bigger, Norton said.

“It is impossible to calculate how important this funding has been,” Norton said during a meeting of the Colorado Economic Recovery Accountability Board at the UNC campus on Jan. 21, 2010.

She said that the Recovery Act funds have allowed UNC to have the time to plan for future budget difficulties. This economic downturn has been “profoundly different” than the last downturn in 2002 and 2003, she said. That time, they had to make immediate cuts. When you have to make decisions quickly, “You make a lot of decisions that are not well thought out,” she said. The consequences of those actions are still being felt today.

Now, UNC has “a really remarkable opportunity” to thoughtfully plan for the future, and that makes all the difference, Norton said.

“We are profoundly grateful to the governor, the people of Colorado and the people of the United States for smoothing out this economic catastrophe. It’s made a huge difference to UNC.”





>>> Click here to view more stories about how Recovery dollars are being put to work