UCCS poised to provide more for region’s economy

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Since its humble beginnings in 1965, the Colorado Springs campus of the University of Colorado has grown to become southern Colorado’s only research university and one of the state’s fastest growing universities.

UCCS is becoming a bigger economic engine for our region each year, largely due to continued and sustained enrollment growth. The campus is providing high-quality postsecondary educational opportunities for students across Colorado, the nation and world.

UCCS is a first-choice option for many talented students in the Pikes Peak region. The growth of the campus and its program offerings present a key opportunity to keep local dollars working in our community, generating income and jobs.

The campus continues to be transformed to effectively serve residential, commuter, and online students with many postsecondary and graduate educational opportunities. If you have not been by the campus on Austin Bluffs Parkway recently or seen the work coming along on North Nevada Avenue in the city’s urban renewal zone, you are missing developments of a key positive contributor to the area’s economy.

UCCS also is positioned to reach a significant milestone. In August, on-campus enrollment will exceed 10,000 students for the first time. Additionally, UCCS will enroll more than 2,000 students from across the state and world in online classes. UCCS continues to use technology advances and new learning methodologies to reach more students with outstanding educational programs.

UCCS’ operating budget for fiscal year 2013-14 will be $187 million with just $18.4 million coming from the state of Colorado for operating support. This budget is growing each year as the campus attracts more students, builds more student housing and works to serve the diverse educational needs of the region.

Included is $19 million of tuition paid by students from outside Colorado — direct income to the region. Out-of-area students pay tuition and fees to UCCS, rent apartments, shop, and otherwise provide income to the local economy.

In addition to employing more than 1,300 faculty and staff, the campus is undertaking $150 million in capital construction projects. These projects are critical to a recovering building and construction industry. Historically low long-term interest rates have enabled the university to carefully issue debt at competitive rates to support many of these projects.

In the next two years, UCCS will open two new student residence buildings, the Lane Center for Academic Health Sciences on Nevada Avenue, a parking garage and athletic field complex, a new Academic Office Building, and an expansion of an existing recreation center.

Additionally, the CU Board of Regents recently approved UCCS’ plans to embark on a $75 million expansion of campus housing to add 500 more beds to the campus beginning in August 2015. This new “first-year experience” village will be located near Stanton Road and Austin Bluffs Parkway and will increase campus housing capacity to about 1,620 students.

The campus also is a resource for several private entities working to create additional private-sector student housing options for upper division, married and graduate students near the campus. If one or several of these projects come to fruition, this effort will represent additional private investment in our community in support of UCCS’ growth.

The advancement and trajectory of UCCS is positive news for the Colorado Springs economy. The university’s outstanding faculty will continue to attract additional research awards and philanthropic gifts to serve our growing campus and region. We seek to increase the number of international and out-of-state students and serve the postsecondary education needs of our citizens, businesses and the military personnel and facilities established in our community.

The future of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs is bright as it continues to emerge as a serious economic, research and educational engine serving the Pikes Peak region.

Brian Burnett is the senior executive vice chancellor for administration and finance at UCCS.