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Business Briefs

Short news articles based on research surveys and peers’ business experiences that can benefit institutions

FY10 Athletics Revenues and Expenses

$35.3M

Median total generated revenues of NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) athletic programs.

$46.7M

Median total expenditures of FBS athletic programs.

22 out of 120

The number of FBS institutions reporting athletic department budget surpluses (revenue over expenditures).

5%

Median total athletic expenditures as a share of total FBS institutional budgets.

Source: Revenues and Expenses, 2004-2010: NCAA Division I Intercollegiate Athletics Programs Report (NCAA, August 2011).

Learnings From Annual Meeting Keep on Coming

So many sessions, so little time. That's what you might have been thinking as you tried to participate in as many presentations as possible at the NACUBO 2011 Annual Meeting, in Tampa. No easy task, given the six dozen panels, presentations, and specially targeted learnings scheduled concurrently across the conference program.

Following are summaries of four particularly popular sessions. See extensive meeting coverage in the September 2011 Business Officer.

Information Technology: A Clear Road Map for IT

How can you make sure that your institution is setting the best priorities for information technology projects? How do you ensure that IT capacity is applied to the right things and at the appropriate time to enable specified business goals? In what ways can the IT department contribute to initiatives the institution is trying to accomplish?

These are some of the questions that can be answered using a process called "IT governance," said Stephen A. Vieira, chief information officer at the Community College of Rhode Island, Warwick. In his session at the NACUBO 2011 Annual Meeting titled "IT Governance: Prioritizing Projects Through Inclusivity, Communications, and Transparency," Vieira-also the college's executive director of IT-explained that CCRI adopted this procedure almost three years ago. "We were doing the same thing again and again without any results," he said. "We were not responsive. Change management existed in theory only."

Vieira realized that the institution needed to implement a more structured model for IT governance. This would allow it to focus on the following:

  • Strategic alignment to ensure that IT initiatives support the institution's objectives.
  • Value delivery that's related to the life cycle of IT initiatives.
  • Resource management that ensures that the IT department and its staff teams don't function as silos.
  • Risk management that allows stake-holders to know what happens if a project is not completed.
  • Performance measures to assess IT operations both qualitatively and quantitatively.

"It [IT governance] guarantees that all proposed projects get 'air time' and fair consideration," Vieira said. "It allows for open dialogue. People discuss what they would like to get done."

Almost three years after implementing its IT governance initiative, the community college is reaping benefits, explained Vieira. "Administrative departments have reduced their manual processes by 50 percent," he noted. "We have a clear road map of IT projects for which everyone knows the priorities and the reasons behind the order of completion. And, there's more of a partnership now. IT teams know what needs to be done."

SUBMITTED BY Preeti Vasishtha, managing editor, Business Officer 

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Strategic Planning: Making the Vision Work

Implementing a university's strategic vision is a process unique to each campus. In a NACUBO 2011 Annual Meeting session titled "Considerations for Effective Implementation of a University's Strategic Vision," three business officers from diverse institutions shared their experiences in aligning resources and relationships. 

Kenneth Valosky, vice president, administration and finance, Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania, shared a reporting structure that emphasizes relationships among offices, departments, and committees. For example, the strategic planning committee submits requests to the budget committee, which then determines whether resources are available.

Things are different at Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, explained John Griffith, chief financial officer and treasurer. Trustee-led task forces work with faculty and staff to address specific issues, such as alumni engagement or student life. But, Griffith said, not everything is left to the task forces. A "Thinking Forward Group," chaired by the president, coordinates the larger planning effort at the college, including prioritizing the task forces.

Still another model is evident at Emory University, Atlanta. Edith Murphree, vice president for finance, described how Emory's strategic plan development involved about 200 stakeholders. The strategic plan steering committee evaluated proposals, which were required to link to at least two of the institution's academic plans. A new financial plan also helped determine the objectives that would be given priority.

Session moderator H. Jay Bellwoar, managing director at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, reminded attendees of the unique position the CFO occupies in implementing a strategic plan: the convergence of planning and financial equilibrium.

SUBMITTED BY Bryan Dixon, program analyst, NACUBO

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Campus Operations: Remodeling Emergency Management

With 107,000 students on eight campuses throughout the state, Indiana University (IU) needed to strike a balance between centralized emergency management structure and local autonomy. In "Remodeling Emergency Management," a NACUBO 2011 Annual Meeting session, attendees heard how institutions can assess and address preparedness gaps. Diane Mack, IU's university director for emergency management and continuity, and Kiersten Todt Coon, partner with Good Harbor Consulting, provided insights gained from IU's work. "We needed an all-hazards plan," said Mack. "There are so many things you can't plan for."

Coon identified three primary challenges to campus security: access control, including ability to call for a lockdown; crisis communications, where redundancy is critical; and a coordinated emergency response aligned with state and local governments. In an emergency incident, the No. 1 thing to go wrong is communications, she said.

Based on Good Harbor's recommendations, IU created a new high-level organization housing safety and security functions and gathered into it emergency management staff from various existing departments. A comprehensive strategy for improving continuity planning and an assessment of communications needs followed.

Awareness and outreach are key. Mack said she's trying to get training incorporated into orientation sessions for faculty, staff, and new students. Games and mobile apps appeal to students, and Mack has found that "anything to do with zombies works."

SUBMITTED BY Dorothy Wagener, editor in chief, Business Officer

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Deferred Maintenance: Strategies for Making Capital Decisions

Postponed upkeep of buildings and equipment has a significant detrimental effect on prospective students," said Dennis Gephardt, assistant vice president, Moody's Investors Service, at a presentation at the NACUBO 2011 Annual Meeting. The discussion, "Deferred Maintenance: Easy Solutions Undermine Long-Term Financial Health," included actionable advice on deferred maintenance.

George Herbst, then interim vice president and chief financial officer at Stetson University, Deland, Florida, said his small, private institution had accumulated a significant backlog of deferred capital projects. "Undergraduate enrollment was declining, the institution was under capacity, and capital renewal was underfunded." Stetson's new president, Wendy Libby, made it clear to the leadership team that they needed to do a face-lift-fast.

While Stetson's leadership prepared a list of projects to meet enrollment goals, Herbst's focus was to quickly upgrade the campus from "shabby chic" to modern and attractive within a modest budget. He proposed low-cost actions to create curb appeal by fall 2010 and achieve longer-term work that would also ensure funds for future capital projects.

Herbst and his staff oversaw landscaping and classroom upgrades, including seating areas with benches, an enhanced campus entrance, and a renovated student center. Remarkably, the summer landscaping and building enhancements were completed in only 60 days.

Preliminary results have been promising, Herbst said. Retention from fall 2010 to spring 2011 exceeded budget by 57 students, and fall 2011 enrollment was nearly 200 students more than the original plan.

SUBMITTED BY Carole Schweitzer, senior editor, Business Officer

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SPOTLIGHT: COMMUNITY COLLEGES
Service and Energy Efficiencies Under One Roof

In June 2010, Hillsborough Community College, Tampa, opened a state-of-the-art student services building at its Ybor City Campus. The facility combines one-stop-service principles and technology with sustainable design and construction. The Ybor Student Services Building earned LEED gold certification while paying homage to the surrounding historic district by incorporating compatible architectural elements.

The redesigned process flow has resulted in reduced wait times, a more efficient resolution of services, and an overall reduction of anxiety in both staff and students.

Start With No Stops

We began the project with a reengineering of the fundamental principles of student services. Informed by visits to other facilities and a review of the literature regarding the one-stop model, Ybor City Campus's staff, students, and faculty came together to define key elements of the ideal student services model. These included such essentials as service efficiency, student engagement, and interdivisional integration.

Contributing significantly to the process were two factors:

  • Guided by the agreed-upon philosophy and principles, the architects designed a building that actually would enhance the process flow, rather than simply contain its activities.
  • The inclusion very early on in the process of the construction management team and the furniture vendor made a positive difference.

This combination allowed for the blueprint to develop in a synergistic way, resulting in a better design, fewer modifications, and a more efficient project timeline.

Self- and Custom Services

The one-stop model created for this building incorporates some key features.

  • Upon entering the building's lobby, students can immediately step up to a self-help kiosk. This promotes self-sufficiency and reduces the need for students to wait in line for answers to general questions or for basic services, such as admissions and residency assistance, financial aid status inquiries, and class schedules.
  • Students requiring additional assistance can sign into an electronic queue on a dedicated PC located on the service counter, then wait comfortably for service. At the front counter, cross-trained staff members triage those students' issues, resolving the majority with ease and swiftness.
  • Staff direct students with more complex issues to a secondary waiting area, where a specialist meets them and escorts them into a private office area for additional service. This flow ensures that the specialist can focus on those students who need an advanced level of attention in a comprehensive range of services that includes counseling with regard to financial aid, records, admissions, and registration-without having to wait in another line. Should the student require help in more than one area, the initial specialist does a warm hand-off of that student to the next staff specialist, ensuring that all needs are met.

This service model virtually eliminates waiting lines and makes use of an electronic queuing system.

Behind the Facade

The student center has already established itself as the college's most energy-efficient building. Its LEED gold designation is especially significant, as the building exterior had to conform to the rigorous standards applied to the surrounding historic district. In fact, the initial design drew criticism from local leaders and historic preservationists. Working with the architects, construction manager, and community activists, we revised the plans. The design ultimately resulted in the construction of a building that all agreed was more aesthetically pleasing, honored the historic district, served as a new model in student service delivery, and further established the college's position as a leader in sustainability. 

SUBMITTED BY Barbara A. Larson, vice president for administration and CFO, and Linda K. Herlocker, dean of student services, Hillsborough Community College, Ybor City Campus, Tampa

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