You are here

Articles: Asset & Investments

Institutions should invest as much effort in “getting to their data” as they do in choosing and installing a business intelligence tool, says Daryl Orts, vice president of engineering technologies at Noetix.

“Good data models are essential, whether you’re doing real-time operational reporting, building a data warehouse, or both,” Orts relates.

Have you noticed colleagues on campus talking more about business intelligence lately? Considering how much these tools have evolved recently, it wouldn’t be surprising.

Henry Ford brought efficiency to the forefront of American business with his assembly line, which introduced automobiles to the masses. “The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed,” he once said. This same mentality has allowed this fall’s Models of Efficiency honorees to improve services provided by their departments, all without spending a fortune—and often while saving a bundle.

Student Loan Default Rates on the Rise

New figures released last month by the U.S. Department of Education show a sharp increase in the rate at which student loan borrowers are defaulting at colleges and universities across the country. According to the report, “two-year cohort default rates” show that 8.8 percent of student loan borrowers who entered repayment in 2009 had defaulted by the end of 2010, up from 7 percent over 2008.

Navigating through the numerous obstacles of a property insurance claim can be a daunting task, especially in an environment as complex and regulated as a college or university campus. Being aware of common obstacles as well as those unique to higher education, and having a claims management plan in place from the onset, will lead to a faster and more comprehensive recovery.

There has been a rash of major embezzlement cases cropping up like a pox at institutions of higher learning all around the country. While employee theft occurs daily at all types of organizations, we have tracked a disproportionate number of significant misappropriations at U.S. colleges and universities. The damage, while significant, is not only financial. Institutional reputation, alumni relations, endowment growth, employee productivity, and even enrollment, can all be negatively affected by a major defalcation.

You can’t just toss an old computer into the corner trash can when it has outlived its usefulness.

Because of the environmental issues involved, special care must be taken in disposing of such equipment. Often, that involves paying for proper disposal. If you do choose to trash aging PCs in a Dumpster, you need to wipe any sensitive data from each one’s hard drive for security and privacy reasons.

Doing more with less is the new normal in higher education. And as college and university administrators work to increase efficiencies, the areas of planning and assessment have grown in importance as strategic tools to manage resources.

Thomas Edison, America's most prolific inventor, once explained his passion for innovation by saying, "There's always a better way." That's the spirit, if not the directive, for the campus departments profiled in the first round of 2011 Models of Efficiency honorees. When it comes to finding ways to streamline business processes or save time and money, the stories you'll read on the following pages will, we hope, inspire you and your department to look for your own ways to better serve constituents.

It wasn't long ago that the longstanding relationship between town and gown in both Pittsburgh and Providence absorbed a shock, as city officials rolled out plans to tax local colleges and universities.

In 2009, the mayor of Pittsburgh proposed a 1 percent tax on tuitions at the city's 11 higher education institutions to shore up the pension fund for city employees. The mayor in Providence, meanwhile, sought legislation to reduce a $17 million budget deficit with a levy of $150 a semester for each student at Brown University, Johnson and Wales University, and Providence College.

As 2010 comes to a close, campus officials still have concerns about economic realities, but as many in higher education have learned firsthand, a department doesn't need an overabundance of budget dollars and staff members to operate effectively. In fact, tighter budgets bring on creative problem solving, and it's entirely possible to save time and money while raising service to a higher level.

Gov. Mitch Daniels recently implored Indiana's public college trustees to maximize efficiencies and cut administrative costs. Instead of coming to the "Statehouse asking for more money," as he stated, trustees should "stay back at the school and find ways to be more efficient with those dollars." As the president of Indiana's largest public college, I applaud the Governor for acknowledging how critical it is to manage costs as our state faces serious budget challenges. And we all have put some recent efforts in place, under the guidance of our trustees, to cut spending.

Educating students to "think critically, reason wisely, and act humanely" is solidly at the core of what we do in higher education. Sometimes it seems, though, that what's at the periphery—including retail, real estate, and public facilities— demands an inordinate amount of our time and energy. In audits and reports, letters to alumni, and press releases, we lump those responsibilities together under "auxiliary enterprises." The diversity and range of what these may be, however, defies categorization.

It is easy to communicate with constituents when you are talking about enrollment growth, a large financial gift, faculty accomplishments and new building projects. But what about when the going gets rough? What then? How do you share bad news with individuals, both internal and external, who are vested in your institution?