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Business Officer Magazine
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Transformation and Reinvigoration

In these sessions, attendees considered how they can redesign and implement business practices, overcome resistance to institutional change, cultivate efficiency, and achieve transformative objectives.

Changing the Campus Culture

Attendees at the session "Coordinating Business and Student Affairs to Transform Campus Life" heard details of how interdepartmental collaborations at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, have achieved the significant change from a commuter-based campus to a vibrant residential environment, while restructuring campus services to be more responsive to students.

The key was a partnership: The vice presidents of business affairs and student affairs and members of their staffs, along with representatives from the student government association, began meeting regularly to work on campus life issues. The group, which became known as the student life development group, focused specifically on academic facilities, housing, food service, transportation, sustainability, and emergency planning. To facilitate working together, they created a shared network drive everyone could access.

One example of collaboration involved residence life. In 1999, only 19 percent of students lived in university-affiliated housing; now in 2012, 62 percent of all freshmen live on campus, and overall the campus residency rate is 32 percent. To build new housing, the university created an affiliated management group, through which private developers converted an adjacent industrial site into a mixed-use residential development that also included several restaurants and shops.

Other projects of the student life development group have included improved food services, with increased hours of operation as well as locally grown and healthier dining options; 24-hour library access; and a new student recreation center that will open in summer 2013.

By meeting regularly, hashing out any issues on projects, gaining student government buy-in, and building trust, said the four University of Louisville presenters, the group can present one voice when speaking to the president and other campus leaders.

Increase International Enrollment and Revenue

The number of higher education students studying outside their home countries has increased fivefold since 1970. There were 800,000 students studying outside their country in 1975; the number is projected to be more than 7 million by 2020, said Andrew Colin, chairman, INTO University Partnerships, at a session titled "Building Institutional Capacity and International Enrollment Through Public-Private Partnerships." Institutions need to increase the enrollment of international students not only to meet this demand, but also to add new independent revenue streams.

Colin offered several options to internationalize enrollment:

  • Do nothing. Assume that the institution will attract international students.
  • Adopt a do-it-yourself approach. Institutions will likely have scarce resources, limited reach, and lack of institutional buy-in.
  • Outsource to the private sector. This is a tactical short-term approach that puts the institution's reputation at risk.
  • Enter a public-private partnership. A private company, such as INTO University Partnerships, combines resources with a partner university to reshape programs and services for international students. The institution has control over its brand, academics, and student experience, while increasing its international student population and revenue.

Brian Thorsness, director of business services, Oregon State University (OSU), Corvallis, said the institution has had a successful relationship with INTO University Partnerships for the last five years. In 2008, it had a 4.3 percent international student population, which has grown to 8 percent in 2012. "It's a phenomenal rise for us," Thorsness said, adding that OSU plans to reach its goal of 10 percent by 2014. OSU controls facilities and academic programs, whereas INTO supports marketing efforts and other resources. In FY12, OSU is expecting a profit of $7 million, and in FY13, it's projected at $11 million.

Just like OSU, the University of South Florida (USF), Tampa, wanted to be a globally competitive institution and increase its revenue flow. Since entering a partnership with INTO, USF has a growing international student base, tuitions funds are flowing back into its three campuses, and profits are accumulating for strategic use, said Nick Setteducato, USF's executive director of financial management and planning.

As is expected in any partnership, USF and INTO faced challenges once they started working together. These included creating the separation contractually and operationally, integrating systems, providing fast-track processing for admissions, and streamlining the applications process.

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