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Business Officer Magazine

Business Intel

A roundup of short news articles and useful resources for business officers

Organizational Management
Formal Four-Year Graduation Guarantee

We know that families are analyzing the cost of college more closely than ever," says President Steve Bahls, Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois. The college's response to that reality: Provide incoming students with a written guarantee that they may earn a diploma in four years.

Of the 51 private colleges in Illinois, Augustana already ranks sixth in the list of institutions graduating students in four years. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, in 2010, 71.1 percent of the college's students earned degrees within the traditional time period, while only 52.2 percent of the more than 22,000 students who graduated from independent schools in Illinois achieved that deadline.

Sign Me Up

First-year students have until the fifth week of the term to sign the agreement, by which they promise to accomplish the following:

  • Keep up their academic work.
  • Declare a major at the end of their first year.
  • Meet regularly with advisers.
  • Meet all registration, advisory, and financial deadlines.

If students fulfill all the identified conditions, Augustana leadership commits to the student earning a degree that won't take more than four years. However, if a student completes 12 academic terms, complies with the agreement criteria, and is then unable to graduate because of unavailability of a required course, the college will foot the bill for the necessary coursework.

Don't Miss Anything

Graduating from Augustana in four years doesn't mean students have to forfeit activities that enhance their education. Noted Bahls, students needn't "sacrifice the extra opportunities such as athletics and other extracurricular opportunities that will help them stand out when it comes to starting their careers or being accepted to graduate school."

Access to the college's Augie Choice program is no exception. Four-year students are still eligible to participate in the initiative, which allots $2,000 to each student in support of a qualifying hands-on learning experience, such as international study, research, or an internship.

Take It From the Top

President Bahls led the effort to implement the guarantee, working closely with colleagues in several offices and departments on campus, including the office of academic affairs, the registrar's office, and enrollment management.

In part because of this initiative, Augustana maintains a stable class size. The guarantee is part of a continuing effort to make the case to prospective students and their parents that the value of an outstanding education in the liberal arts and sciences vastly outweighs the cost. Augustana leaders are gratified that prospective students and parents have responded favorably to the guarantee.

RESOURCE LINK Read the full agreement at

SUBMITTED BY Paul Pearson, vice president for construction and community development; and Keri Rursch, director of public relations, Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois

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Leader's Digest
Colleges Commended for Community Service

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), along with the U.S. Department of Education (ED), honored five higher education institutions with the Presidential Award of the 2012 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. This is the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to making service a priority in and out of the classroom. Inspired by the thousands of college students who traveled across the country to support relief efforts along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, the initiative celebrates the transformative power and volunteer spirit that exists within the higher education community.

Fast Fact

"The world is changing too fast and economic uncertainty is too great to leave finance officers out of executive decision making. ... Simply put, the people who have the strongest grasp of a company's finances need to be part of the strategic thinking from the ground up."

-"CFOs: Not Just for Finance Anymore," by Robert A. Howell, the Wall Street Journal, Feb. 27, 2012

Honored on March 27 at the annual American Council on Education's meeting in Los Angeles were the following awardees: Carson-Newman College, Jefferson City, Tennessee; Miami University, Oxford, Ohio; North Carolina State University, Raleigh; Seattle University, Washington; and the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. "Through service, these institutions are creating the next generation of leaders by challenging students to tackle tough issues and create positive impacts on community," said Robert Velasco, then acting chief executive officer of CNCS.

"Preparing students to participate in our democracy and providing them with opportunities to take on local and global issues in their coursework are as central to the mission of education as boosting college completion and closing the achievement gap," added Eduardo Ochoa, ED's assistant secretary for postsecondary education.

Campuses named in this year's honor roll reported that nearly one million of their collective students engaged in service learning, and more than 1.6 million participated in other forms of community service, donating a total of more than 105 million hours.

For a full list of recipients, visit

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All You Ever Wanted to Know-or Say-About Parking

The International Parking Institute's parking and transportation forum, the "Parking Matters Blog," is a clearinghouse for questions, comments, and answers relating to the fine art of efficient parking operations. Submit your e-mail address and receive notifications of new postings to the blog. You'll read about everything from stormwater solutions to training for the unexpected.

Executives Advise Listening to Employees

Seven winning entries in a McKinsey-cosponsored contest (with Gary Hamel's Management Innovation Exchange online community and Harvard Business Review) reveal corporate executive thinking on the importance of engaging employees in an open and realistic way. A panel including McKinsey partners and external experts chose winning initiatives from a field of 106 entries representing creative employee programs at a wide range of companies.

While the programs differ in form, they share an awareness of the connection between employee engagement and organizational productivity. For more details, go to and search "The Beyond Bureaucracy M-Prize Winners." For ideas being used in higher education, see this month's Business Officer cover story.

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Net Tuition Revenue Growth Slowing

More than half of the institutions participating in the NACUBO 2011 Tuition Discounting Study (TDS) experienced a decline in freshman enrollment from fall 2010 to fall 2011. Nearly 45 percent lost total undergraduate enrollment in that same time period. Because of the drop in enrollment, projections are for a lower growth rate in tuition revenue for 2011, even though average net tuition revenue in 2010 increased 5.4 percent over the prior year.

The study is based on data from 400 private, nonprofit institutions and measures tuition discount rates and other indicators of institutional grant awards to their undergraduates. This year's study includes charts and tables on the following:

  • Changes in freshman and total undergraduate enrollment.
  • The tuition discount rate for freshmen and all undergraduates.
  • Percentage of institutions that increased or decreased the discount rate.
  • Change in net tuition revenue.

Look for an article in the June Business Officer, analyzing the 2011 TDS results.

RESOURCE LINK The NACUBO 2011 Tuition Discounting Study is available at for purchase at $50 for members and $200 for nonmembers.

NACUBO CONTACT Natalie Pullaro, manager, research and policy analysis, 202.861.2596

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