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Business Officer Magazine
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From Strategy to Action

In these sessions, attendees heard how to incorporate integrated planning, financial modeling, performance measurement, and other innovative strategies into their institutions.

Insights Into Performance Funding

In a session moderated by Lorrie DuPont of RBC Capital Markets, a panel of presenters discussed several aspects of performance funding and how it impacts public institutions. Panelists for the session, titled "The Role of Performance Management in State Funding of Higher Education," additionally shared what went well at their institutions, as well as what didn't. 

William Zumeta, professor of public affairs and professor of education at the University of Washington, provided a history of performance funding. He acknowledged that while there was a significant decrease in performance funding programs during the recession—with states prioritizing their "core funding"—the number of programs has been steadily on the rise since the recovery began.

Barry McBee, vice chancellor and chief governmental relations officer, University of Texas System, described several challenges that states face in utilizing performance funding, explaining that at its core, the process is complex and often "too much for state legislators to get their arms and minds around." Add to that the difficulty in assessing diverse institutions within a system that is using "one-size-fits-all" metrics, and one sees why some states have abandoned or failed to adopt performance funding. 

It can work, argues Joan King, associate vice president and chief university budget officer, Washington State University, especially if students are interested in entering programs targeted for performance funding, though "student interest in programs waxes and wanes," noted King. Equally important, however, is having employers interested in employing students after they leave the institution.

Leadership Can Begin With a Small "l"

Sometimes the type of leadership an institution needs is not heroic, but rather an approach that allows others to be leaders in small ways. This was the advice included in the session, "Chief Business Officers Needed: Effective Strategies for Today's World."              

One of the presenters, Guilbert Brown, assistant vice president for planning and budgeting and chief budget officer, George Mason University, Fairfax, Va., based this conclusion on two change initiatives he'd undertaken—upgrading an antiquated information technology system at Georgetown University, and writing off an insolvent hotel owned by George Mason University.

Commenting on Brown's case studies about the two change initiatives, copresenter Lynn Oppenheim, president, Center for Applied Research, pointed out: "If you are going to move from strategy to action, your people need to be on board." At the same time, it's easy to talk about engagement, but difficult to achieve. "Communication must be authentic," said Oppenheim, "and we need better ways to gather input from stakeholders."

To sustain change, suggested Brown, "We found 'pilots'—people and processes that were already in place—already doing the things that are moving in your intended direction. To change behavior for the long haul," he concluded, "you either find or create the support for it."

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