The Future Makes History
For the first time, NACUBO, APPA, and SCUP joined forces in hosting a major educational conference, doing so to envision the future of higher education from multiple campus perspectives. It was a tall order—and the results were nothing short of outstanding.
In an unprecedented collaboration, NACUBO, APPA, and SCUP explored higher education administration challenges and showcased multidisciplinary solutions through a premiere learning event that brought together institutional leaders from around the globe. The three Campus of the Future conference partners hosted 3,646 registrants July 8-11 in Honolulu. At the opening general session, NACUBO President and Chief Executive Officer John Walda acknowledged the conference’s 250 registrants from 31 countries outside of the United States. “Six of the seven continents are represented,” Walda noted; “all except Antarctica.”
Many Campus of the Future educational sessions were planned jointly by the three associations to highlight issues of common concern to business officers, facilities professionals, and planners. The conference covered a variety of topics and put the spotlight on a couple of key themes, one of which was sustainability. Another theme—collaboration—was reflected by the 361 college and university teams registered for the event. Team attendance was encouraged to broaden discussions among institution colleagues in envisioning the future of higher education and addressing critical challenges ahead.
Over the course of the conference, attendees strolled through a campus expo decorated with a collegiate ambiance, with palm-tree-lined avenues leading to plazas and quads. Special areas offered unique glimpses of campus life on the horizon: the Classroom of the Future, which was provided by Herman Miller, and the Laboratory of the Future. Attendees could grab a meal at the East or West Quad or have an impromptu “picnic on the green” (green carpeting, of course). At the center of the expo was a clock tower, serving as a convenient meeting spot for people trying to find friends among their fellow travelers.
Many NACUBO members swung by NACUBO Central for the chance to put faces to staff names and learn more about the products and services offered by the association. Members browsed through materials and tried out the “My NACUBO” online tool, then turned their attention back to selecting their next educational session.
From Physical to Virtual
To set the stage for thinking about how campuses will look and must operate going forward, an opening futures panel painted a world in transition—from one of physical reality to a virtual reality based increasingly on knowledge within a marketplace of ideas and images. According to Melinda Davis, chief executive officer of The Next Group, if the first part of human history centered on structure and hierarchy, the big switch under way is toward a world of collaboration, intermingling, and networking. In that same spirit, James Zull, a professor at Case Western Reserve University, urged that to remain relevant to students, instruction must move from merely providing more information to facilitating meaningful experience.
Consider the ridiculous. University of Hawaii professor and panel moderator James Dator offered his law about futures scenario planning: Any useful idea about the future should appear to be ridiculous. In that regard, Richard Katz, EDUCAUSE vice president, gets an “A” for his provocative video presentation of education delivery in the year 2020. The film depicted a future in which large corporations and entertainment and media conglomerates buy out or form partnerships with higher education institutions and systems. In such a world, the equivalent of a GooglePhoenix or an education division of Disney providing “edutainment” experiences built around simulated teachers and classmates will hold a predominant share of the education market. But while Katz’s premonition of a post-social, de-peopled learning environment may have appeared farfetched to some, the truth around the edges undoubtedly resonated with many conference attendees who were abuzz afterward about the plausibility of the notions Katz presented.
Change happens—fast. The reality of education delivery in 2020 is that it will likely be some blend of face-to-face, online, and even synthetic and self-created learning opportunities, and there may exist universal access and mass customization and licensing of standardized coursework, noted Katz. He said that although many forecasters are “generally wrong,” he believes that most also tend to undershoot how quickly technology changes may occur. What will happen when the course as a unit of instruction no longer exists? How will institution leaders prepare for discontinuous change? And how can institutions create the kind of educational experience that most of us remember in a world where education may be more accessible and more personally driven than instructor led? Those questions keep Katz’s mind spinning.
Whatever forms that instruction and its associated technology applications may take in the years ahead, one thing is clear: The future is closer than most of us think.
If two heads are better than one to problem-solve solutions, then higher education institutions are off to a great start with identifying and addressing the needs of their campuses. At the close of the futures panel, attendees were invited to participate in an historic event—the largest focus group ever conducted by the three associations. The 1,004 participants, divided into smaller groups by constituency (research universities, comprehensive and doctoral institutions, small institutions, and community colleges), embarked on an intense exploration of forces shaping the future of higher education.
Participants were asked to identify the driving forces most likely to affect institutions during the next 5 to 7 years. Across all constituent groups, the forces consistently picked were technological change, increased competition, and population changes. Groups then selected two key drivers and developed scenarios based on the intersection of those drivers. General sub-themes that emerged included
- the likelihood of future mergers and consolidation among institutions;
- a need for institutional branding; and
- the idea that institutional survival will go to those most technologically fit.
It’s a Horizontal World
If the fate of institutions is truly in flux—marked by increased competition and technological change—what might that portend for institution leaders? According to conference keynoter Thomas Friedman, the upper hand will go to those entities where leadership is curious and passionate and where leaders inspire the same in their workforce.
"My intellectual software--the framework through which I view the world--was out of date," confessed Friedman to a packed plenary-session crowd, as he explained the genesis of his latest bestseller, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century. While interviewing a top Indian entrepreneur in Bangalore for a 2004 Discovery Channel documentary on the outsourcing phenomenon, Friedman learned that the global economic field was being leveled. “And you Americans are really not ready," the entrepreneur had said. That was all Friedman needed to hear to continue his earlier research on globalization, which resulted in the book and its clear implications for what a "horizontal" world means for leaders, particularly those in higher education.
Friedman outlined the 10 forces--including the rise of Windows, the launch of the first browser, and the delivery of six new collaborative technology tools--that converged at the outset of the new millennium to empower individuals to create and distribute their own content. "We woke up one morning around the year 2000 and suddenly realized that we were all being touched--and were touching--other people in ways that we weren't able to do before. Overnight, we went from a vertical, command-and-control model to one in which value is created horizontally by people with whom we connect and collaborate," he said. One rule to keep in mind, said Friedman, is: "Whatever can be done will be done. The question is: Will it be done by you or done to you?"
For educators, said Friedman, the upshot of the horizontal world is that, as Bill Gates has noted, we do not just need more education, we need the right education. Friedman suggested that to get it right we need to know what jobs will be of value in a horizontal landscape in which jobs can be done anytime, anywhere, and by anyone. "Unless you know what jobs are out there, you can't design the right education."
Friedman described eight broad categories of jobs and job skills for educators to be aware of if they are to transform traditional middle-class jobs into the ones required by a globalized world.
1. Great collaborators. In a world where products and services are supplied by the global supply chain, people who can pull together all of the pieces will be of tremendous value.
2. Great leveragers. Those who can leverage technology in ways that allow them to do the jobs of 15 or 20 people will command high salaries and be steadily employed.
3. Great synthesizers. "Think about Steve Jobs and the iPod," said Friedman. "You have the synthesis of the launch of a new technology that pulls from an online music store and delivers listening anytime, anywhere."
4. Great explainers. "In a flat world, things are complex," explained Friedman. One of the most important roles, particularly for educators, is to explain how things work--and encourage others to spread the word.
5. Great localizers. "Consider the power of the eBay platform," said Friedman, "in enabling an individual to start a business in his or her garage. Being imaginative about those kinds of opportunities will be key in new local wealth creation."
6. Green thinkers. "Anything green will have jobs attached to it," asserted Friedman. "If we do not find alternatives to fossil fuels, we are going to burn out the planet prematurely." Consequently, green technology, power, consulting, and related initiatives will be one of the huge growth industries in the flat world.
7. Passionate people. Personal passion can provide the difference that moves a so-so commodity into a must-have product. "There's nothing more ordinary than lemonade," said Friedman, "but the guy who sells lemonade at the Baltimore Orioles ball park is so passionate about it that everyone buys from him. He even rents himself out for private parties."
8. Great adaptors. People who have the ability to roll with the punches, contended Friedman, will be able to sidestep outsourcing, downsizing, and digitizing of their positions, constantly regrouping and retraining.
Friedman cautioned that for educators the job is to prepare young people for competing in the equivalent of the Olympics--"but you won't know what sport they'll be competing in," he adds. To accomplish the task, he suggested focusing on the following.
- Recognize the importance of the ability to learn how to learn. "Take courses from your favorite instructor," he advises students, "those who can teach you the love of learning."
- Try to instill curiosity and passion. Friedman has created a new formula: CQ + PQ is greater than IQ. "If you stimulate young people to increase their curiosity and passion, they can teach themselves so much more--and take themselves so much farther," he said.
- Follow the lead of Dan Pink (author of A Whole New Mind) in encouraging right-brain development. "This part of our brain,” said Friedman, “in which innovation, creativity, art, and other talents reside, will have so much to do with success in the flat world.”
The author has traveled the country during the past year, sometimes finding that people have been depressed by the new book, thinking that the 21st century belongs to China. At the same time, Friedman said, he found a tremendous amount of creativity, particularly in the areas of education and energy, generated by America's open economy. "We won't win the 21st century by default," he contended. "We'll only win if we understand exactly what kind of world we live in and design the kind of education, governance, and strategy that empowers people to be collaborative, innovative, and adaptive."
The International Campus
Are students prepared to work within a global economy if they don’t receive a global education? Co-presenters of “The View From the Pacific Rim: Australian Models for Higher Education” don’t think so.
Margaret Gardner is vice chancellor and president of RMIT University, which serves more than 57,000 students at three main campuses around Melbourne, at its campus in Vietnam, online, and at partner institutions throughout the world. Richard Larkins is professor at Monash University, the youngest of eight major research institutions in Australia, enrolling 52,000 students at its network of six onshore campuses, its campuses in Malaysia and South Africa, and its centers in England and Italy.
|Virtual meeting places are becoming increasingly popular with today’s youth, and the higher education community is beginning to take notice of these online vehicles as potential avenues for reaching the student of the future. The “Learning Space of the Future,” part of the expo, was created to show several ways in which technology will be likely to change the higher education sector in coming years. Second Life, the software demonstrated, allows students to build and participate in a virtual world. The area visited on Second Life was a newly developed virtual campus created by the New Media Consortium as a place where institutions can explore this type of environment. NACUBO staff presenters Robert Rhea and Carlos Restrepo gave participants a chance to interact inside this “campus,” which, besides a classroom, contained a virtual art gallery, planetarium, and ballroom.|
Both institutions have strong international student populations onshore—39 percent for RMIT and 30 percent for Monash—boasting students and alumni from 100 countries. These two institutions also showcase Australia as a major provider of higher education offshore. RMIT serves about 11,000 students overseas, including 3,000 in Vietnam. Monash has made major inroads to South Africa, where it enrolls 12,000 students, and it serves 2,700 students at its Malaysia campus.
Gardner and Larkins credit Australia’s strong market share in international education to a push by the country’s federal government to enroll foreign students. That impetus began during the 1960s but has blossomed since the 1990s, due in part to a significant decrease in government funding for higher education that prompted institutions to step up their strategies for educating foreign students at home and abroad.
Admitting foreign students has provided a source of income for Monash, but Larkins stresses other advantages to the university, including the ability to provide a strong cultural experience for all students and a boost to the institution’s global reputation. For their foreign campuses, both RMIT and Monash teach the majority of classes in English and offer language courses to prepare offshore students to pass required English proficiency tests.
“Once we started, it changed how we thought of education, and now our international focus is a significant part of our mission,” said Gardner. She believes that institutions with an international focus have to recognize the connection between physical and virtual infrastructures. While RMIT’s campus in Vietnam has a similar look and feel architecturally to the university’s home campuses, the focus is still on understanding the specific needs of students in Vietnam. “We are not about homogenizing the education experience,” said Gardner, “but, rather, understanding individual experience—not offering a campus, but a network of places and experience.”
New Business Officers Initiation
Some of the participants talked about life on the outside, others were moving up within higher education (at least two had been senior IT officers). One participant had served as CFO of the U.S. Air Force Academy. While many at the New Business Officers (NBO) program had been at their jobs for over a year, others were not starting for a few weeks. There was plenty of time to share and get comfortable—with an emphasis on a safe and practical environment throughout the program.
Presenters Larry Goldstein and Pat Sanaghan, respective presidents of Campus Strategies and the Sanaghan Group, used the group’s diversity in the “Real World, Campus World” exercise. They divided the room into veterans of higher education and those coming from other realms. While the veterans worked in small groups to come up with five pieces of advice they wished someone had given them as newcomers to higher education, the newbie small groups developed lists of questions. Goldstein noted that higher education is the industry most willing to share best practices and the like, even with its competitors. He and Sanaghan shared powerful anecdotes from their years behind the walls at many institutions of higher education. They offered insights into using the Leadership Wheel process to develop self-awareness.
Patience is certainly a virtue in CFOs—along with understanding and appreciating the organizational culture; knowledge and leadership skills; an appetite for new information; and of course, stamina. John Palmucci, vice president of finance and treasurer, Loyola College in Maryland, illuminated the inside story of being a vital CFO. Palmucci emphasized the importance of celebrating success. One of the most worthwhile and cost-effective uses of money, he said, is to recognize and reward accomplishment as often as possible.
Some of the emphasis was on the need for reality. Be a trusted partner to the president, the presenters advised; tell the president the truth. Get to know the board.
NBOs were also encouraged to schedule desk time to think, to plan and be disciplined, to say no when necessary, and to send staff to represent them at meetings whenever possible. Integrity and character were also emphasized—“You’re dead if you lose credibility on campus,” presenters said.
Other key points from the program:
- Treat your people well.
- Develop the staff.
- Put the right people in place.
- Think for the common good.
- Recognize your impact.
- And when dealing with a new president, be a masterful transition manager.
A Worker’s Market
Most of us have heard of the impending workforce challenges created by 167 million baby boomers who will soon hand over their jobs to a mere 150 million eligible workers. Higher education CBOs are also living the consequences of a worker shortage resulting from a U.S. population that is aging at the top. Especially for filling top leadership spots, the new reality includes extended search periods, longer completion dates, less qualified candidates, and candidates of choice declining in favor of other opportunities or counteroffers. That’s what Witt/Kieffer consultant Alice Miller is hearing more often from higher education clients.
Yet it’s not only holes in top leadership that place a strain on institutional productivity, according to session panelists for “Creating a Leadership Pipeline: Identifying and Developing Talent.” Given a 17 percent average annual employee turnover rate and a 6- to 18-month average wait for a new employee to get up to speed, the “cost of turnover” is taking a financial and workload toll on many institutions, says Miller.
The charge is clear for Weldon Ihrig, executive vice president, University of Washington. “Our job as leaders is first to retain good employees. To be an employer of choice, an institution must start by keeping the best. I do counteroffers like mad to retain people,” said Ihrig. Giving people opportunities to grow and develop within the organization and to initiate and lead projects is also key, says Ihrig. “One truly great thing about higher education is the opportunity for cross-pollination.”
For Mary Jo Maydew, vice president for finance and administration at Mount Holyoke College, leaders can best observe when others are ready to step up by first stepping back. Health issues several years ago kept Maydew working from home. During the interim, one of her direct reports assumed a more central role, speaking up for the first time in meetings. When Maydew returned, she recognized the need to let her direct report continue in this leadership role.
In addition to identifying leadership traits, senior leaders in each division must have a vision of where the division and the institution are going so that they hire individuals—and develop current employees—who have a passion and commitment to that vision, says Ihrig. Miller concurs. She stresses the importance for leaders to look all the way down the organization to identify important values and commitment and to establish proactive growth opportunities for those individuals. “You can’t put off leadership development until you have a hole to fill. Organizations need people sitting on the bench at all times who are ready to step up and play.”
For colleges and universities, that concerted focus on identifying talent and commitment should flow beyond current employees to students, asserts Miller. While institutions by and large don’t recruit their students, Miller believes more will begin to understand the benefits of hiring people who already have a strong foundation in the mission and vision of the institution.
Of the many sessions highlighting sustainability strategies and practices, “Implementing a Sustainable Environment Program at Eckerd College” showed how specific operational changes can yield a positive payback institutionwide. In many ways, Eckerd College already exudes a strong sustainability focus. The St. Petersburg, Florida, college consists of 80 buildings located on a bay atop an old landfill. Academically, Eckerd is strong in marine sciences and environmental studies, with outdoor labs that allow critters of all kinds to move freely across campus.
Recently, the college partnered with facilities services company UNICCO to develop a comprehensive, campuswide green cleaning program. This has entailed substituting products, procuring new energy-efficient equipment, implementing new cleaning methods, and retraining employees.
For starters, the college is moving away from petroleum-based cleaners in favor of non-toxic cleaning products such as citrus-based cleaners and more highly diluted concentrated cleaners. Changes to cleaning practices include placing mats at entranceways to reduce indoor debris and switching from daily cleaning to less-frequent bleach cleaning. Mixing stations help ensure that staff don’t overuse chemicals, thereby improving indoor air quality.
Beyond green cleaning efforts, the college is paying close attention to other air and resource quality improvements. A greater focus is now placed on purchasing non-aerosol products and low-volatile organic compounds and paint products. As for remodeling and construction, the college is replacing carpeting with tile flooring to reduce the risk of mold. Slow-release fertilizers and environment-friendly pest control measures are now used on campus grounds, where reclaimed gray water rather than potable water is used for irrigation. A new parking lot on the exterior of campus incorporates crushed recycled concrete in lieu of asphalt.
Eckerd’s sustainability focus has a strong student involvement component. For instance, students may apply for grants that benefit Eckerd’s greening program and can earn credits by helping to expand native plant growth and eliminate noxious plant species. The college supports a student-led recycling program and partners with student affairs to select new furnishings that incorporate renewable materials.
Several steps have been critical to Eckerd’s success:
- identifying key stakeholders and champions who can jump-start campus initiatives;
- training managers and frontline staff;
- clarifying goals and priorities; and
- communicating tips and specific activities.
High-Tech, High-Touch, Highly Transformative
How do you develop a high-tech, high-touch service model and transform attitudes in the process? First of all you start with a common-sense philosophy. “It’s what drives everything we do,” Lisa Kujawa told attendees at the “Putting Students in the Center” session. Kujawa is assistant provost, enrollment management, at 4,200-student Lawrence Technological University, in Southfield, Michigan. Her co-presenters at the session were Jerry Webster, dean of students at the university, and Arthur F. Smith, lead architect and designer at the Harley Ellis Corporation.
A poster worth a thousand words. As part of the Council of Higher Education Management Associations (CHEMA) poster session, NACUBO presented its award-winning collaborative effort with the American Council on Education. The Web-based CampusRelief.org resource was established in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in immediate response to the announcement that more than 12 higher education institutions would close for the fall 2005 semester. NACUBO staff presenters Jessica Shedd and Christina Redmond Daulton informed conference attendees that Texas had the largest number of institutions (65) offering temporary enrollment to displaced students through CampusRelief.org, and the No. 1 challenge faced by institutions in temporarily accepting students from affected Gulf Coast institutions was providing advising and counseling services. Many attendees commented on the tremendous loss in revenue for these colleges for the fall 2005 semester (estimated at $251 million) and inquired as to how many students returned to their “home” campuses in the spring (retention rates were as high as almost 90 percent). Some also noted that their institutions were in the process of drafting disaster recovery and business continuity plans prompted by last year’s disasters.
CampusRelief.org compiled institutional offers of temporary enrollment for affected students from more than 900 institutions. Public and independent two- and four-year institutions from all 50 states and the District of Columbia offered temporary enrollment, along with eight countries and two U.S. territories.
Additional CHEMA posters covered a range of campus concerns—from communication technology to procurement practices to auxiliary services.
The institution faced the challenge of transforming a collection of buildings into a spectacular college campus, with a centerpiece being the new Student Service Center, “a new front door to the university,” Kujawa said. The university used information from SCUP—a benchmarking study and video--and visited the campuses mentioned before proceeding with the project. Services were consolidated into one side, and the administration “quit giving students the runaround.” Lawrence also created a “U Serving You” video to train staff in process improvement, and it consolidated data processing efforts. Frontline staff were cross-trained for six months before the grand opening of the new student center last April.
The presenters emphasized that intangible building design factors, such as work dynamics, really do count, and all stakeholders need to be involved in the process. With careful collaboration and keeping a special ear out for the end users, the university managed to create 42,000 square feet of space on a $15 million budget. It also received LEED Silver certification for sustainability, especially in heating and cooling.
Some of the features of the new campus:
- Gardens in the quadrangle, carefully planted not only to be aesthetically pleasing but also to serve as a botanical and ecological learning opportunity.
- A glass-enclosed atrium that houses career services.
- An admissions area to accommodate groups of 50.
- Both alumni and orientation space.
- Learning labs on the lower level, along with student computing areas.
- Windows on mechanical rooms so that students can learn about geothermal processes and how the building works.
The verdict is in: Parents are pleased, as well as students—not to mention grad students, each of whom receives a laptop. The center has improved the laptop distribution process, and staff interaction is “dynamic,” the presenters pointed out. Students are now experiencing “transformational learning” with the revitalized systems and settings. Staff both inside and outside of the new facility share a sense of excitement.
Big lessons learned:
- The voice of the end user is critical.
- A good, open relationship with the program manager is essential.
- Empowerment of middle management--responsible for implementing the common-sense philosophy—is a must.
Is Higher Education a Good Investment?
How do we define a “good investment” in higher education? According to William F. Massy, professor and vice president emeritus, Stanford University, the criteria are public and private, economic and non-economic. What does that mean? The private benefits are those that graduates/students hold near and dear. Economically, are they earning a good salary? And, non-economically, how is their quality of life? The public benefits are those that institutions hold near and dear. Economically, are they competitive both domestically and internationally? And, non-economically, do they have their finger on the pulse of what is going on in the world and what they need to be doing?
So, now that we know the criteria to define a good investment in higher education, how do we know whether we are meeting them or not? Well, for the graduates/students, are they where they thought they would be after graduation? And for the institutions, are they contributing to society via education, research, and public service in the way they expected they would?
We would love to be able to answer these questions; however, Massy states that “American universities seldom collect more than anecdotal evidence about their performance.” Massey’s view is that, most of the time, institutions talk about being taken for granted, when in reality they could just not be doing their jobs well enough.
So where does that leave us? Massey said that, yes, higher education is a good investment. But, institutions need to learn how to measure criteria and understand that our current cultures are still resistant to change. Although we may be hitting a tipping point, we need to constantly challenge our definitions and criteria for measurement. We need to grasp onto the fact that education is now global and that we need to better plan for the future of our institutions and graduates/students. We need to create strong strategic plans and balanced scorecards and take every opportunity to do things better.
Understanding Ratio Analysis and Benchmarking
Seattle Pacific University (SPU) teamed with Moody’s in a session designed to increase awareness about ratios of importance to health and to an institution’s plan. Susan Fitzgerald, senior vice president of Moody’s Investor Service, noted that ratios and benchmarking against a peer group is the approach analysts use to assess health.
In the financial assessment phase, analysts examine the asset base of an institution. They are concerned with net assets, capital, debt burden, and an overall operating profile. It is important to note that no single ratio is focused on but rather a group of ratios involving assets, capital, debt, and operations. The assessment is made as of the balance sheet date, and calculated indicators are benchmarked with peers currently and trended over time.
To develop the most complete and reliable picture, analysts ask and seek answers to key questions related to calculated ratios and benchmarked results.
Concerning resources, they ask:
- Why does the institution have resources?
- Is there enough debt?
- Is there adequate planning for the future?
- Do the resources hold up against the operating base of the institution?
Key questions regarding the core business are:
- What is driving revenue?
- What is the competition?
- What is the demand?
- What drives the composition of expenses?
Questions that relate to planning for the future include:
- What is the composition of depreciation?
- Is the institution budgeting for depreciation?
- Is a tuition-dependent institution adequately investing?
- Is there a relationship between a capital plan and debt?
Seattle Pacific University is an independent comprehensive and doctoral institution with an operating budget of approximately $100 million and $35 million in endowments. Craig Kispert, SPU associate vice president for business and finance, discussed drilling down from his institution’s plan to ratio targets to benchmark against peers. Work in this area began using NACUBO tools such as publications on ratio analysis and endowment and tuition discounting studies to develop a peer group of institutions. The result, Kispert said, is greater understanding of financial drivers, better alignment with the institution’s plan, and transparency. In fact, SPU’s annual report contains 10 years of key financial ratios for assets, capital, debt, and operations. An accompanying narrative addresses many of the questions analysts consider important, with comparison against the institution’s goals and objectives. According to Kispert, the approach is called “2014--A Blueprint for Success”--and with good reason.
Strategy Times Two
"One of the things built into the genetic code of the community college system is the ability to respond to changes in the community environment," says Rand Key, executive vice president of planning and development, Community College of Southern Nevada (CCSN). “One of the best ways to do that is to have an effective strategic plan in place."
It's clear, however, that planning processes require customization to the circumstances at hand. Key and colleague Patty Charlton, vice president of finance and budget, along with business officers from Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, Kansas, explained two approaches that demonstrate the differences that can exist in equally effective strategic planning initiatives.
Leave linear thinking behind. According to Key, most community college strategic plans are linear. Hence, says Richard Carpenter, CCSN president, "They are incapable of facilitating the quantum shifts necessary to respond to today's market, but instead assume that the future is an extension of the past. In doing so, they relegate the institution to incremental change, political timidity, and performance mediocrity." CCSN moved beyond the linear model to focus on significant new realities of community economics relating to the dynamic growth of the Las Vegas metroplex that has made it the fastest growing area in the nation in recent years. For example, students can now graduate with associate degrees in fields such as video surveillance and card dealing, says Key, which qualify them for entry level jobs paying $55-60 thousand per year. By offering such training, the college recognizes the needs of the local economy while also focusing on better serving the student body.
Make benchmarking of key criteria a centerpiece of strategy. At Johnson County Community College, says Susan Lindahl, vice president, college relations and strategic initiatives, a focus on academic quality has been in place for 25 years. But in 2001, JCCC's president charged the staff with a strategic goal of comparing its results with those of other institutions in the area of continuous quality improvement. As a result, the college is competing for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award as part of its Academic Quality Improvement Program. To compare performance with appropriate institutions, says Lindahl, the college's research department obtained funding to conduct a benchmarking study. "That project," she says, "gave us the true North direction that we needed to compare ourselves with institutions of like size and, thus, better clarify our strategic initiative metrics."
Analyzing Tuition Discounting
Analysis of tuition discounting practices and revenue data from 16 independent liberal arts institutions that are members of the Associated New American Colleges revealed that, alone, the average tuition discount is a weak predictor of aggregate net tuition revenue. Rather, institutions should focus on the average net tuition revenue per student. “Managing Institutional Financial Health: New Tuition Case Studies” session presenters, Phillip Doolittle (University of Redlands), Charley Gillispie (Valparaiso University), William Hall (Applied Policy Research, Inc.), and Carl Sgrecci (Ithaca College) provided attendees with enrollment and tuition revenue trend data from their respective institutions, each suggesting that to be an effective chief financial officer, one needs to collaborate with those managing enrollment as well as those managing the finances.
Doolittle, Gillispie, and Sgrecci pointed out that their institutions are enrollment- and tuition-dependent. Each year, the institutions try to balance bringing in a competitive class and maintaining or increasing enrollment, while providing enough financial aid to attract these students without the expense of losing revenue. At the University of Redlands, one of the financial aid strategies is to maximize the state Cal Grant program; each recipient has an annual award of $9,708 through the program. It was important for the university to sustain enrollment and maintain the Cal Grant student population despite state threats to cut the Cal Grant program by half in early 2004. For others, the challenge lies in finding a way to increase tuition, maintain the discount rate, and still capture all or most of the revenue from the tuition increase.
Shoppers at the Campus of the Future bookstore/cybercafe rushed to buy copies of The World Is Flat and The Likeability Factor, to be signed by Thomas Friedman and Tim Sanders, respectively. They also stocked up on the latest NACUBO, APPA, and SCUP titles. Following are the NACUBO books that were the association’s top sellers.
1. What Leaders Need to Know and Do: A Leadership Competencies Scorecard, by Brent D. Ruben
Sustainability Starts With Students
When it comes to education for sustainable development, "what we do not need is more armchair pontification," declared Debra Rowe in her presentation "A National Trend: Sustainability in Higher Education and What Will Be Expected of You." President of the U.S. Partnership for Education and Sustainable Development, Rowe contended that the more effective approach is for leaders in higher education to recognize their unique opportunity to provide students with hands-on, real-world experiences. "Imagine what the world would look like," said Rowe, "if all college campuses were to assign real sustainability problems for students to solve. Such projects can make measurable differences on campus--and in the world--while helping young people develop their own world views about their role in global stewardship."
Session participant Cynthia Shea, director of the sustainability office at the University of North Carolina, offered a case in point. "Students at UNC have the opportunity to do everything from peer review of other campus sustainability activities to advising local restaurant owners on how to make their businesses green," she said.
"You are all 'latent professors'," said Rowe. "If facilities, financial, and academic leaders begin to see their role as environmental stewards, they can model that behavior for students." Rowe went on to note that campus leaders are already doing a lot of this, but they are not calling attention to their activities. She admonished: "Start making sure that your signage is up."
Keeping a Technical Jewel Structured and Spontaneous
Established in the 1800s, Stevens Institute of Technology is a jewel of a campus tucked away on the shores of the Hudson, within a bird’s eye view of New York City. The university has a rich technical history and prides itself on an entrepreneurial culture. The culture is informal--meaning no provost and very few decision makers. Several years ago new leadership began to consider the prospect of growth. The challenge: come up with a new plan and increased structure without stifling the time-honored tradition of creativity and the industrious spirit.
The challenge of growth at an historic technical institution provided an interesting backdrop to a session on the internal control maturity framework. This framework is a continuum, with informal to standardized controls at opposite ends. It’s not unusual for higher education institutions to reside close to the middle but lean towards standardized controls. A deeper analysis would likely reveal research-intensive institutions much closer to the standardized end of the scale. As a technical institution with research as a staple, Stevens Institute resided on the informal end of the framework. In early 2005, the chief business officer began constructing a growth plan. The strategy was to grow by tripling the research base, aiding the institution in recruiting high-caliber faculty and continuing to enhance reputation. With increased research as the goal, a related objective was to move toward the standardized position on the framework.
The business office developed an implementation work plan in two phases. The first included assessment, a list of challenges, a list of risk areas, a prioritization of risks and challenges, and broad-reaching communication of the discoveries, priorities for changes, and tactics for achieving results. In this phase, communication involved both internal and external efforts. Stakeholders were identified, focus group sessions held, and a change management communication plan developed. It was deemed important to reach across campus and communicate with all departments, as well as all committees of the board of directors. External communication involved greater interaction with auditors and reaching out to the rating agencies. To prepare for increased research activities, it was necessary to reduce risk and enhance controls through new positions in key areas: internal auditing, information technology, budgeting, and accounting.
The second phase involved rebuilding business processes and procedures, completing the revitalized staffing plan, using an “all in” budget approach, writing policies and procedures, establishing compliance with OMB Circular A-133 (Office of Management and Budget standard that guides federally funded research), completing a risk assessment, and ongoing communication between the controller and external auditors.
The activities involved were extensive. The results? Reduced risk, increased efficiency, uncompromised collegiality, shared governance, increased capacity for compliance, improved documentation, enhanced internal controls, and increased federal research dollars. Stevens Institute is on a path toward growth with entrepreneurial tradition intact.
Keeping It Legal
Practical challenges of the e-environment, public records laws, and the continued emergence of state Sarbanes-like legislation were the focus of the presentation “Future Shock? Legal Issues for the Campus of the Future.” Moderated by Presley Pang, associate general counsel at the University of Hawaii, the session was presented by Christine Helwick, general counsel at California State University, and Georgia Yuan, general counsel at Cornell University.
Records management in the e-environment. The speakers highlighted the keys to developing effective records policies that can help campuses face the new sets of legal issues stemming from digital records, including the management, reproduction, and authenticity of such records. Knowing how to define what a record is, documentation of a campus records policy (including why you have one), and the development of clear retention schedules are important for positioning your institution for legal inquiries and federal and state government information requests.
Trends toward more sunshine. Also discussed was the increasing tendency of state and federal laws to require public disclosure. Public records laws are broadly defined in most states, and public institutions in particular need to be aware of what they are required to provide upon request. Public records laws are applicable to electronic and hard-copy records.
Sarbanes-type state efforts. Helwick and Yuan stressed the importance of institutions getting involved early in the drafting stages of state legislative initiatives to improve accountability. This is not only to be effective in voicing higher education’s perspective, but also to help policy makers craft rules that make sense in the institutional context.
Hitting the Internet Running
“Going the Distance: Building Success Into Your E-Learning Program” pinpointed the small margin for error in the online delivery marketplace. From presenter Bruce Chaloux, director, Electronic Campus, Southern Regional Education Board, here are tips for not letting that hamper your institution:
- Know your regional, specialized accrediting requirements.
- Research state licensing and approval requirements.
- Know your market.
- Understand learner needs.
- Have responsive systems.
- Commit to serving the online learner.
- Be aggressive and competitive.
- Do your homework before developing a plan of attack.
Budget Shortfall Spurs Integrated Strategy
The new millennium brought a new dean--and a 40 percent reduction in state funding--to the Medical University of South Carolina's College of Health Professions, said Kristi Beeks, CHP’s assistant dean of finance and administration. In their presentation "Integrated Academic, Financial, Strategic, and Facilities Planning," David Ward, associate dean of student affairs and planning for CHP (one of six colleges in MUSC's comprehensive academic health sciences center), and Beeks detailed the development of a game plan that, across seven years, would deliver state-of-the-art facilities, an inclusive campus culture, educational excellence, and a strong bottom line.
As an example of the integrated approach to facing the college's challenges, Ward explained how the strategy called for tying faculty performance directly to organizational goals. A faculty workload analysis quantifies work--be it teaching, lab work, research, or publishing--while a salary-generation requirement commits all faculty members to raising research funds and grants to support the work of their respective departments. "We were focused on changing the culture of the college to include a broader focus on the bottom line," said Ward. "And, while people said it couldn't be done, every faculty member achieved the goals."
As for the bigger picture, Beeks and Ward attribute organizational achievements to a combination of factors, particularly those related to integration of all stakeholders in the planning process:
- sharing of financial goals, responsibilities, and results;
- engagement of faculty and staff in decision and policy making;
- increased communication across the campus, led by the dean; and
- securing of corporate partnerships to deliver state-of-the-art facilities.
"In the end," said Ward, "integration of financial, academic, strategic, and facilities planning enabled our significant outcomes."
Smile While You Work
Do your colleagues enjoy working with you? If not, your chances of succeeding in your career are significantly reduced, contends Tim Sanders, author of The Likeability Factor. Sanders, a leadership coach and Yahoo consultant, gave attendees conference-closing food for thought about what truly moves people forward and upward: talent, work ethic, and likeability. ”Likeability,” he explained, “reflects your personal capacity to consistently produce positive emotional experiences in other people.”
In other words, if you’re likable, you will bring out the best in other people. People who work for you will work harder and more effectively because they will want you to succeed. And you’re more likely to get a positive annual review.
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“Highly likable leaders can attract Generation Y and keep them,” Sanders noted. “It’s the emotional compensation package that attracts Generation Y. Generation Y’s motto is: Financial freedom is freedom not to work for a jerk. If you want to attract and retain the next generation to your organization, you need to make the organization emotionally attractive.”
So think friendly. Build bridges. Make a sincere effort to see things from the perspective of others. Be a deep listener, and be a powerless listener, Sanders said. Don’t tell people what they want to hear, or always say “yes,” or withhold constructive feedback. When you need to say “no,” say “I’m sorry”--period. Don’t say, “I can fix it” or “Don’t feel that way.” Sanders added, “The reason we love our pets so much is that they can just understand our feelings and not try to change them. Do you have that skill? If not, develop it.”
In addition, to get people on your side and keep them there, Sanders advised, be in the moment. Don’t bring Blackberries to meetings. Be honest with people, and follow up on your promises.
And, for goodness sakes, smile.
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Tuesday, March 28, 2017 1:00PM ET
- WEBCAST: Legislative Lunchcast: A 30-Minute Washington Update from NACUBO
Friday, March 31, 2017 12:00PM ET
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- WEBCAST: Update to Strategic Financial Analysis for Higher Education, 7th Edition: Corrections, Clarifications, and Consistency of Application
Monday, May 22, 2017 1:00PM ET