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Business Officer Magazine

Business Intel

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

Community Colleges Complete Self-Critique

As part of its 21st Century Initiative, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) produced Reclaiming the American Dream, a report commissioned by Walter G. Bumphus, AACC's president. "This is a brutally honest report," said Bumphus, when the report was released at the association's annual conference in late April. "For years we have been focused on access, and now we need to turn our attention equally to student success. It takes courage to say that we can do better."

A Redesign for New Times

The AACC report finds that student success rates are unacceptably low, employment preparation is inadequately connected to job market needs, and disconnects inhibit the transition between high schools, community colleges, and baccalaureate institutions.

Much of this is caused, assert the report findings, by the fact that "community colleges, historically underfunded, also have been financed in ways that encourage enrollment growth, though frequently without adequately supporting that growth, and largely without incentives for promoting student success."

What's to Be Done?

The 21st Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges used the report to suggest a framework for change grounded in the "three Rs"—redesign students' educational experiences, reinvent institutional roles, and reset the system to create incentives for student and institutional success. Here are the framework details.

Redesign education.

  • By 2020, increase by 50 percent the completion rates of students earning community college credentials (certificates and associate degrees), while preserving access, enhancing quality, and eradicating attainment gaps associated with income, race, ethnicity, and gender.
  • Dramatically improve college readiness: By 2020, reduce by half the number of students entering college unprepared for rigorous college-level work, and double the number of students who complete developmental education programs and progress to successful completion of related freshman-level courses.
  • Close the American skills gap by sharply focusing career and technical education on preparing students with the knowledge and skills required for existing and future jobs in regional and global economies.

Reinvent institutional roles.

  • Refocus the community college mission and redefine institutional roles to meet 21st century education and employment needs.
  • Invest in support structures to serve multiple community colleges through collaboration among institutions and with partners in philanthropy, government, and the private sector.

Reset the system.

  • Target public and private investments that can create new incentives for education institutions and their students, and support community college efforts to reclaim the American dream.
  • Implement policies and practices that promote rigor, transparency, and accountability for results in community colleges.

To implement these goals, community colleges will need to collaborate with other areas of society, such as philanthropy, elementary and secondary education, government, and the private sector. The kind of metamorphosis the commission envisions will require more than just "tinkering around the margins," says Kay M. McClenney, co-chair of the commission and director of the Community College Survey of Student Engagement at the University of Texas, Austin. "Let it not be said that community colleges are setting the bar low," she says. "We are setting it quite high."

NACUBO RESOURCE To access Reclaiming the American Dream, go to

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By the Numbers


Voluntary Support for Nonprofits Suffers

Total donations to American nonprofits reached $298.4 billion in 2011, according to the Giving USA 2012 report. Produced by Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy, this year's report indicates that decreased donations from individuals accounted for the lower overall growth rate.

The 0.9 increase over 2010 results, coupled with 1.3 percent the previous year, represents a 2.2 percent increase (in inflation-adjusted dollars) from 2009 to 2011—the second-lowest performance reported by Giving USA since 1971. Support for education fared better during this time period, with donations for educational institutions growing 5.2 percent. On the other hand, the gain for education lagged behind that of organizations focused on international affairs and relief efforts (9.9 percent), human services (7.2 percent), and public-society benefits (6.4 percent). For a complimentary summary report, go to the Giving USA Web site.

Geographic Graduation Numbers Shift

According to an Education Indicators in Focus report released by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), about 40 percent of young postsecondary degree holders in leading countries will come from China and India by 2020. The United States and several European Union countries will collectively produce about 25 percent of higher education graduates by that time.

The gap between China and the United States, the two leading producers of graduates in 2010 (with 18 and 14 percent respectively) will grow even larger by 2020, with the OECD report projecting that China will produce 29 percent of the world's higher education graduates while the U.S. graduates 11 percent of that total. By comparison, India—which graduated 11 percent of all postsecondary achievers in 2010—is anticipated to overtake the United States by increasing that share to 12 percent by the end of this decade.

Yale Reunions Go Platinum

Offices of sustainability on college campuses continue to play an important role in energy efficiency, and at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, green meetings are taking the spotlight. This year, the Yale College Reunions were awarded a platinum-level certification for significantly reducing the carbon footprint of the two 2012 reunion weekends, May 24–27 and May 31–June 3. The on-campus events are the largest gatherings to receive the highest level of green-event certification, an honor awarded by the Yale Office of Sustainability and intended to encourage, recognize, and celebrate voluntary sustainable efforts to reduce environmental, social, and financial costs of events.

Do it together. Teamwork is a hallmark of the Yale Reunions, and this year's partnership among the Blue Goes Green alumni group and the dining services, printing and publishing, and sustainability departments resulted in some key changes. Main areas of focus included improved transportation methods, renewable products, locally produced food, and careful waste disposal.

Make choices that matter. More than 6,900 Yale College alumni and guests returned to their alma mater during the two event weekends, attending lunches, dinners, lectures, panel discussions, and outings. Attendees found a number of opportunities to go green, including:

  • Using composting and recycling stations.
  • Drinking water from reusable water bottles provided at numerous water stations.
  • Coordinating transportation schedules to match adjusted operating schedules for Yale biodiesel shuttles.
  • Registering through the paperless online registration Web site.

In addition, "All front-of-the-house aspects of food and service were planned and executed under zero-waste assumptions," says Rafi Taherian, executive director of Yale's dining services. The department sourced local, organic produce wherever possible, and ensured that all tableware for more than 28,000 meals was compostable, recyclable, or otherwise reusable. Julie Newman, director of the sustainability office, concludes: "This reunion success helps accelerate a trend now beginning to spread more broadly through the Yale community."

For more on Yale's green event certification, go to:

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Ensuring the Viability of Research Universities

Expressing concern that American universities are at risk, the U.S. Congress asked the National Academies to assess the competitive position of the nation's public and private research universities. The question to be answered: What are the top 10 actions that Congress, the federal government, state governments, research universities, and others can take to assure the ability of the American research university to maintain the excellence in research and doctoral education needed to help the United States compete, prosper, and achieve national goals for health, energy, the environment, and security in the global community of the 21st century?

To get at the answer, the Academies' National Research Council established a committee of leaders in academia, industry, government, and the national laboratories. The committee's report, Research Universities and the Future of America, published in June, summarizes its findings and lists the top 10 actions it recommends. Available in a no-cost downloadable booklet, the study also highlights several examples of ways university research has contributed to discovery and progress.


"The proportion of the adult U.S. population with some type of a postsecondary credential or degree increased by a half a percentage point between 2008 and 2010-from 37.9 percent to 38.3 percent. Although the movement is in the right direction, these increases remain below those that are needed to reach the goals of 55-65 percent of the population with some postsecondary credential by 2020."

April 2012 newsletter, National Association of System Heads

Critical Pressures

In evaluating the current state of research universities, the committee identified the broad challenges that are affecting the institutions' future potential:

  • Unstable revenue streams. Federal funding is declining at a time when other countries have increased funding for research and development. State funding for higher education has been eroding for more than two decades and has been further cut during the recession.
  • Demographic shifts in the U.S. population. This trend calls for strategies to increase the success of underrepresented students.
  • Changes in the organization and scale of research. The cost of sponsored research is not fully covered by those who procure it, which means that universities have to cross-subsidize the activity from other sources.
  • Shifting relationships among research universities, government, and industry. Large corporate research labs that drove American industrial leadership in the 20th century have largely been dismantled. Companies have not fully partnered with research universities to fill the gap at a time when innovation is needed more than ever by society.
  • Increased competition from counterparts abroad. While American universities have long attracted outstanding students from around the world, other countries are rapidly strengthening their institutions to compete for the best international students and for faculty, resources, and reputation.

Ten Strategic Actions

The game plan of 10 action points takes the form of three broad goals:

Revitalizing the partnership. Four of the actions are pointed at reactivating the power of partnership among universities, state and federal governments, philanthropy, and the business community. The intention: to revitalize university research and expedite the development and delivery of innovative products and services.

Strengthening institutions. Three ideas are focused on improving the productivity of research operations within the university.

Building talent. The final three actions are designed to ensure that the pipeline of future talent in science, engineering, and other research areas remains creative, leverages the national talent pool, and attracts the top students from around the world.

For a detailed review of the study and specific explanations of the committee's suggested strategies, go to

Flashback ... 20 Years Ago

In a March 1992 Business Officer article about management change ...

"Perhaps the best example of administrative growth is the expansion of the internal audit function. At Virginia Commonwealth, an increase in the internal audit staff from 0 to 17 over the past 12 years demonstrates the priorities of the 1980s. Accountability and compliance with regulations have taken precedence over academic excellence."

DONALD C. BRUEGMAN, senior vice president for administration, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond

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