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Articles: Financial Services

Reverse auctions have, by some accounts, proven to save institutions more than 40 percent on goods and services.

Seconds tick by. Vendors submit bid after bid in real time, battling it out to win the business of the campus procurement office. The opposite of eBay, this reverse auction format results in the price going down with each bid.

Picture the amount of paper associated with almost 42,000 travel reports and 300,000 procurement card transactions. That’s how many expense-related documents the University of Colorado’s four campuses generate in a single year. Besides the sheer challenge of filing and storing so many receipts, a few years ago there also were major hurdles for reconciling and auditing.

Customization and automation are key elements  of the new administrative system developed for the Distance Learning Center, located in Ullsvik Hall.

In the past, University of Wisconsin-Platteville staff had to manually enter the records of any student pursuing an online degree. With more than 2,500 students enrolled, this was no easy feat—especially considering staff also had to manually enter course registration, financial aid and even basic contact information. This effort required approximately 500 hours of staff time each semester—or 1,500 hours a year—to accommodate the university’s three-semester system.

When you think about the blinding pace of technological change, it’s a wonder the University of Iowa’s student information system worked for as long as it did.

More than 30—yes, 30—years old, Iowa’s SIS was less an integrated series of data processing functions and more a collection of individual siloed systems that didn’t work very well together. Because the underlying technology and architecture were so old, enhancements were difficult. Data were redundant and difficult to synchronize. And manual, paper-based processes frustrated users.

The University of Puget Sound has received a series of bitcoin donations.

The University of Puget Sound in February became the first higher ed institution to accept a gift of digital currency, when alumnus Nicolas Cary gave the Washington school 14.5 bitcoins—equal to $10,000.

Jeffrey G. Eisenbarth is vice president for business and finance as well as treasurer for Rollins College.

Central Florida is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, so it makes sense that hospitality enterprises can be counted on to provide a financial boost—even to higher education institutions.

The University of Wisconsin’s all-you-can-learn, competency-based flex program—designed for adult students—started in January. Students can pay $2,250 for a three-month, all-you-can-learn subscription, or just $900 to work on a single set of competencies, says Vice Chancellor Aaron Brower, the interim provost of the UW Extension School.

Tuition covers assessments and faculty mentoring, and students’ get help organizing their studies from an academic coach—a new role that combines duties of an advisor and tutor. All work is graded by University of Wisconsin faculty.

Gene Wade is CEO of University Now, parent company of Patten University.

Since last June, students at the for-profit Patten University have been able to take all-you-can-learn, competency-based programs online and at the institution’s campus in Oakland, Calif.

Undergraduate tuition is $1,316 for a four-month term or $350 for a month. Students can take as many classes as they can fit into their schedule. The average student takes three classes per term, says Gene Wade, CEO of Patten’s parent company, UniversityNow.

Institutions are increasing efforts to equip those in a broad array of campus leadership positions with the skills they need to identify and woo potential donors.

The University of Florida’s last fundraising campaign, completed in October 2012, surpassed its $1.5 billion goal and finished nine months ahead of schedule at $1.72 billion. Despite this tremendous success, the next campaign will deploy a new tactic—a fine-tuned army of the university’s leaders prepared and practiced in the strategies of fundraising.

A high-demand winter course at Long Beach City College will cost residents $225.

California has been experimenting with charging higher tuition rates for high-demand courses offered during the winter and summer. The accompanying infographic breaks down what students are paying.

Workforce development has long been a bastion of the community college environment. But with student-loan debt topping $1 trillion and enrollments falling, many four-year colleges and universities are devoting more attention to the area, in part as a way to boost their own relevance within a challenging global economy.

A Toyota workforce study revealed: Within 10 years, at least 200 employees in their Indiana manufacturing plant would retire.
Action: Partner with university to launch the Toyota Advanced Manufacturing Technician Program

Part-time students and their needs need not get lost when continuing education gets decentralized. Fairfield U reaches out to its part-timers, many of whom have young children, with events such as the Halloween-themed “Night at the Museum,” held this fall on campus at the Bellarmine Art Museum.

With funding cuts, falling enrollments and increased competition from MOOCs and other low-cost online programs, higher education has been under enormous pressure in recent years. But pressure often leads to positive change, and many schools are looking at continuing education as an ideal area for that change.

Construction budgeting software allows Southern Methodist U to maintain a digital record of projects and ensure future projects have adequate funding for site development and other line items.

A Midwestern state university budgeted about $12 million for a major addition to its library several years ago. At the time, there was not a tightly controlled project planning process at the institution and the library’s plaza—already a major central gathering space on campus—was not included in the project budget.

Sidewalks weren't part of the construction project budget for the Hurvis Center at Lawrence U, but that piece was still planned ahead, through a local landscaper.

In some cases, colleges and universities will opt to fund some site development items, such as landscaping, as an operational cost instead of a capital cost.

But the decision depends on owner needs and should still be made in advance, during the budgeting process for the entire project. Here’s how two institutions have approached the decision: