Skip to content Menu

(Washington, D.C.)—A triennial report from the National Association of College and University Business Officers provides new insight into who is leading higher education business offices, how they're advancing their institutions, and how many plan to retire in the next few years.

The 2016 NACUBO National Profile of Higher Education Chief Business Officers (National Profile) surveyed 713 business leaders at colleges and universities across the higher education sector. Results show today's higher education CBOs are still predominantly white males, averaging 56 years old, as past editions of the National Profile have found. About one-third of current CBOs are female, up about two percentage points from 2013. The percentage of CBOs of color has risen slightly as well but remains very low, hovering around 12 percent.

The vast majority of CBOs report that they are perceived as the "primary guardian of the institution's financial resources" - and that they actually handle much more. Beyond their responsibility for budgeting and accounting, chief business officers today often oversee bursar services, endowments and investments, and public safety, among other areas; nearly one third reported that strategic thinking and decision-making is the most important aspect of their job after financial resource management. Their typical salary ranges from $150,000-300,000, varying significantly with years of experience and institution type.

CBOs report they have satisfying jobs—many of which will be vacant in the next few years. More than 43 percent say their next career move will be retirement, with about 44 percent of those respondents planning to move on in three years or fewer. That leadership exodus is coming much sooner than many in higher education expect, the National Profile notes—and 37 percent of CBOs report their institutions do not have any type of succession plan in place.

"CBOs are visionary leaders tasked with steering the fiscal future of their institutions, as results of the 2016 National Profile confirm," said John Walda, NACUBO president and CEO. "NACUBO is committed to strengthening and diversifying the business office talent pipeline and continuing to advance these pivotal roles at colleges and universities."

Several NACUBO talent development efforts are already underway. The new NACUBO Fellows Program will prepare aspiring chief business officers to rise to leadership roles, and an upcoming collaboration with Prairie View A&M University will convene aspiring leaders from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Annual workshops including the New Business Officers and the Future Business Officers programs, as well as the jointly produced Women's Leadership Institute, also equip rising stars with the resources, guidance, and support to advance.

The 2016 National Profile report is available at no cost online and provided with support from TIAA. To speak to an expert about the findings and NACUBO initiatives, please contact Katy Hopkins at

NACUBO, founded in 1962, is a nonprofit professional organization representing chief administrative and financial officers at more than 2,100 colleges and universities across the country. NACUBO's mission is to advance the economic viability, business practices and support for higher education institutions in fulfillment of their missions. For more information, visit 

Related Content

NACUBO On Your Side: November 7–13, 2023

The Department of Education reminds higher education of requirements to address on-campus discrimination, NACUBO comments on proposed overtime rules, and more.

NACUBO On Your Side: November 14–20, 2023

Congress avoids a federal government shutdown this month through a two-step continuing resolution, the IRS releases proposed rules on donor-advised funds, and more.

NACUBO On Your Side: November 21–27, 2023

A Perkins Loan Program reporting deadline is quickly approaching, the IRS proposes energy investment credit rules, and more.