When investment returns were going gangbusters years ago, most colleges paid little attention to whether they’d have quick access to cash if a severe economic downturn occurred. The pitfalls of that oversight are now clearer than ever, and a major rating agency is asking colleges to produce ever-more detailed reports about their “liquidity” positions.
Signs of the economic downturn are evident many places you turn in higher education these days: in the exploding demand for student financial aid, the imposition of faculty and staff furloughs, and an upturn in the number of nonprofit colleges being transformed into for-profit institutions.
It’s no secret that for-profit institutions lavishly outspend their public counterparts in marketing. Just look out for their billboards along busy roadways, commercials airing on cable television, or prominent ads on popular websites.
This tends to cause general consternation among community college leaders, many of whom believe their institutions could just as easily serve students looking elsewhere for career advancement or retraining. So why – amid ever-increasing advertising blitzes by for-profit institutions – are some community colleges slashing their marketing budgets?
Maybe punishing every evil company is less practical than supporting corporations that seek to do good. Rather than divest from tobacco companies or those that engage in ethically dubious business in Sudan, Dickinson and Middlebury colleges are trying to steer investment dollars toward companies and managed funds with strong environmental and social records.
Like so many small private colleges, Dana College, a small Lutheran institution on the outskirts of Omaha, has long been precariously close to its death.
“I’ve worried about the college as long as I’ve known the college,” says Myrvin Christopherson, a 1961 alumnus who was Dana’s president from 1986 until 2005. During those 19 years, not only did he weather several years of budget deficits and a fire that destroyed the college’s Old Main, but he also increased the college’s endowment from $1 million to more than 10 times that. “It was always able to pull through.”
SAN FRANCISCO – Colleges do a relatively good job of preventing cashiers and low-level employees from stealing, but they’re largely inept when it comes to monitoring mid- and upper-level managers who are the most likely to perpetrate significant fraud at an institution, an expert on such crimes said at the National Association of College and University Business Officers annual meeting here Sunday.
SAN FRANCISCO – The ever-growing population of college chief financial officers is dominated by well-educated, middle-aged white men who clash with deans and never feel they have enough money for their institutions, according to a survey released today by the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO).
SAN FRANCISCO – With resources drying up and debt mounting at many colleges, the idea of letting private developers finance building projects is increasingly seductive. But these arrangements are not without risks, and ratings agencies are watching some of them develop with skepticism, panelists told a group of college business officers here this week.
SAN FRANCISCO -- The list of problems (and opportunities) facing most colleges is long -- figuring out how to do more with less, setting priorities for investing time and money -- and some of those same challenges make it harder for institutions to solve them. As staffs and budgets stagnate or shrink, day-to-day demands often push aside the sort of strategic thinking and analysis that might pay dividends in the long term -- work for which institutions often turn to outside consultants for help.