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Articles: Asset & Investments

Steven H. Kaplan is president of the University of New Haven in Connecticut.

For centuries, colleges and universities have been exempt from paying property taxes, and there’s no good reason to change. But that’s not stopping people from trying.

From Connecticut to California, critics are questioning property tax exemptions while arguing that colleges are getting a free ride on the backs of taxpayers.

There is an opportunity that many universities are unaware of that can provide immediate tax cash savings. If you have conducted renovations to your buildings in the past, you may be in a position to take advantage of recently released Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) regulations. The following provides a brief background of the opportunity, outlines the characteristics of entities that can benefit, and also provides a roadmap for how to take advantage of this benefit.

A biomass plant opened on Middlebury’s campus in 2009, marking a significant step toward the college’s pledge to become carbon neutral by 2016.

Fossil fuel and private prison divestment may make the biggest headlines when it comes to how colleges invest endowment funds—but it’s not actually that common a practice. A growing number of colleges and universities now seek bigger impacts—and substantial financial returns—with a strategy known as “ESG.”

When a school hears from the FBI, the news is not likely to be good. Two years ago, FBI agents informed Maricopa County Community College District administrators that data from the 10-college system in Arizona had been posted on the internet. With a possible data breach underway, the system’s website was shut down immediately and school officials began to investigate.

While it can be risky for people with physical disabilities to navigate between facilities outdoors, tunnels on campuses such as Wright State U allow for smooth building-to-building movement.

Rumors about the nearly two miles of tunnels that lie beneath Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, often revolve around its location near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Some people have suspected the tunnels were designed as an Air Force/Wright State bomb shelter—or even that top-secret military experiments have been conducted in laboratories there.

Finance professor Jeffrey R. Brown's new book is "How the Financial Crisis and Great Recession Affected Higher Education," with co-editor Caroline M. Hoxby, a Stanford economics professor

In How the Financial Crisis and Great Recession Affected Higher Education, Jeffrey R. Brown, a finance professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and co-editor Caroline M. Hoxby, a Stanford economics professor, examine universities as complex economic organizations that operate in an intricate institutional and financial environment.

Working together, campus buyers and facilities staff can ensure that dollars for equipment needs are wisely spent.

Who would ever think that replacing simple lightbulbs could end up costing a university hundreds of thousands of dollars? Or that a piece of equipment destined for a building’s basement could nearly cause the destruction of an exterior wall, with an associated price tag in the tens of thousands of dollars, because the system was too large to fit through a doorway and too heavy to ride on an elevator?

A fresh look: When the library at Grand Valley State U was remodeled, useable furniture got new life on other parts of campus rather than being placed into storage.

Furniture asset management has been a big efficiency win for institutions. Facilities managers say inventory tracking, storage, and reusing or repurposing every piece of furniture an institution owns are keys to the process.

The latest NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments shows college increasing spending from their endowments. (Click to enlarge)

U.S. colleges and universities last year paid for operations with bigger chunks of their endowments to compensate for declines in key sources of revenue, particularly tuition and public funding.

The good news is that the average rate of return rose for the second straight year, from 11.7 percent in FY2013 to 15.5 percent in 2014, according to the “NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments,” released in January.

Student success and retention, along with recruitment and enrollment, lead the way among the many areas that will see a fresh commitment of funding and other resources over the next 18 months.

Colleges and universities of all types and sizes are planning new investments in virtually all areas of operations as economic recovery entrenches itself in higher education, according to a University Business survey of campus leaders.

William M. Courson is president of Lancaster Pollard Investment Advisory Group.

Monetary policy in the United States took a dramatic turn with the introduction of quantitative easing after the financial crisis of 2008.

Although it achieved its primary objective by forcing down long-term interest rates, it also increased the supply of money in the economy, which has contributed to inflationary pressures in the past.

While we are fortunate to have witnessed a lengthy and very low inflationary environment, as money supply increases, the probability of higher inflation also increases.

Education is now one of the top five industries for reported cases of occupational fraud.

What do a private liberal arts college, a public community college and a high-ranking national university all have in common? Each recently reported six-figure occupational fraud losses.

At RIT, barcodes adorn all tech equipment, so when the internal auditing group conducts an asset audit, additional equipment beyond what is already tracked is rarely discovered by the team.

Tracking IT assets across a higher ed institution is tricky business. Depending on the college or university, it may be done by an internal audit group or IT, or a combination of both.

IT asset audits are important from a risk management perspective because they help schools track compliance with software licensing agreements, as well as state and federal requirements, and help them be more efficient.

In the life of an institution, the chief financial officer helps drive the big narrative, but also digs down into the day-to-day. A CFO is strategist and analyst, decision-maker and inspirer, and protector and possibility-seeker all in one.

Education is an industry undergoing exciting and dramatic transformation. Some recent trends and developments in the space include: Common Core Standards, MOOCs (massive open online course), game-based learning, blended learning, marketing, recruitment, and a host of ancillary specialized services. These industry changes, along with advances in technology, have stimulated the growth of educational companies and have spurred the interest of private equity investors.