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Small Institutions Roundtables 2010

January 13, 2010 - The NACUBO Small Institutions Council hosted a roundtable discussion for chief business officers from similar institutions. Henry DeVries (Calvin College), Sally Mayhew (McKendree University) and Jeff Spear (Mount Vernon Nazarene University) facilitated the conversation. The following topics were discussed:

  • When considering funding for new student housing, evaluate third party financing thoroughly. The 2009 presentation by Franklin and Marshall College (PA) Preserving the Neighborhood with Student Housing was recommended as a resource.
  • Keeping the workforce positive is challenging. Solutions shared were to hold brown bag sessions to review the budget and explain why certain decisions were made; make clear the connection between enrollment and revenue, and explain external forces such as state funding; if fall enrollment surpasses predictions, reward faculty and staff with a one-time bonus; avoid increasing health-care premiums if possible; add vision insurance at a minimal expense, if possible. Model a positive attitude.
  • Cloud computing is under consideration for potential cost savings—or, more likely, cost reallocation to other IT projects—particularly as a result of remote backup and storage of e-mail. Don’t expect it will reduce the need for staff.  Training everyone is key, as well as enabling faculty to communicate with students’ g-mail addresses. See the summary article The Appeal of Cloud Computing or full presentation, Partly Cloudy: What a CBO Should Know about Cloud Computing.
  • New 403(b) requirements are leading to increased audit fees. Many institutions advise that these fees should be negotiated.
  • The expense of intercollegiate athletics is under evaluation. Some institutions are increasing fund raising for athletic programs. Sports continue to be used as a recruitment tool.
  • The new Truth in Lending Act provisions will require some institutions that provide loans to provide students with new forms and counseling. There is a checklist available from NACUBO as well as a webcast on Complying with the New Truth-in-Lending Act Rules for Education Loans

February 16, 2010- Karen Goldstein (retired, Davidson College) facilitated the conversation. The topic was budgeting. The conversation included:

  • Multi-year budgeting up to five years, forecasting enrollment, endowment, student aid and depreciation
  • Setting enrollment targets
  • Outsourcing administrative operations, such as payroll and information technology
  • Financial modeling software versus Excel
  • Managing board-level finance and audit committees, communications between meetings
March 17, 2010 - Jim Main (California State University-Monterey Bay) facilitated the conversation. The following topics were discussed:
 
  • The burden of compliance, for example the many provisions of the Higher Education Opportunity Act. NACUBO created a checklist to help keep track of key compliance obligations. NACUBO eGroups are another resource.
  • Calculating the contribution margin for a program (expenses relative to revenue)
  • Communicating total compensation to employees, especially important when salaries are frozen
  • Renting out campus facilities to generate revenue and considering the impact of UBIT.
  • Planning for healthcare, salary, and retirement expenses
  • Learning management systems
  • Board-level compensation committees
  • Enterprise risk management