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In addition to supporting the business of higher education with technical expertise, NACUBO has long worked to champion the business officer profession, providing leadership education for chief business officers (CBOs) and strengthening career pathways that lead to the top business and finance jobs.

Recognizing that colleges may soon face a wave of CBO retirements, NACUBO asked our members about the human resource pipeline to the top business and finance positions at colleges and universities for a recent CUPA-HR webcast.

NACUBO received responses from 150 CBOs about possible successors on their campus. The non-scientific poll was conducted September 9-14, 2020.


The good news is that more than half of respondents believe that there are qualified individuals in the pipeline on their campus. 

The more sobering news involves the work that needs to be done to identify opportunities for people of color to advance to the CBO role. 
It is important for diversity to be visible in college and university financial and business leadership because of the strength these values bring to building knowledge, broadening perspectives, and fostering innovation. The evidence from our poll clearly supports our recently renewed efforts to support diversity, equity, and inclusion in our programming and other resources.  

While these poll results were not a result of scientific polling, the results lead NACUBO to be concerned both about the population of people of color employed in positions that could lead to advancement and the possibility that structural hiring and promotion practices may be unconsciously biased.
NACUBO’s 2016 National Profile of Higher Education Chief Business Officers found that women accounted for roughly 32 percent of CBOs.  In subsequent years, NACUBO has devoted professional development time and attention to building a senior leadership pipeline for female business officers—and we are heartened to see some evidence that the investment has paid off.  


These infographics represent just one example of the flash poll inquiries that NACUBO conducted in 2020 to ensure that our members are receiving the professional development and essential technical expertise they need to support higher education institutions.

NACUBO’s research team conducts three annual surveys on higher education finance and many other studies that inform the higher education finance landscape. In 2021, we will launch a new survey and publish an updated National Profile of Higher Education Chief Business Officers, examining the demographic profiles, career paths, and future goals of today's higher education CBOs.



Liz Clark

Vice President, Policy and Research


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