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Articles: Asset & Investments

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?

WHEN LYNNE SCHAEFER STARTED HER position as vice president for administration and finance at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 2005, the institution's financial reporting tool left much to be desired. Developed internally to pull data from UMBC's PeopleSoft ERP, the tool has produced complex reports that make it "hard to find exactly what pieces of information you're looking at," she says. "This creates frustration, especially for the untrained eye. ... I'm sure in some cases it has resulted in people throwing up their hands and just hoping it all goes ok."

Determining the fair value of assets and liabilities on a university's financial statement has become increasingly stringent, particularly under the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Accounting Standards Codification Fair Value Measurements and Disclosures (Topic 820), formerly FAS 157. Since compliance with accounting regulations is an undeniable part of a CFO's responsibility, it is important that accounting professionals in higher education are aware of the new standards under Topic 820.

THE NEWS COMING OUT OF higher education these days can seem like an endless stream of updates on shrinking endowments, rising tuition costs, and across-the-board budget cuts. The recession is hitting higher education hard; it seems no one is being spared.

IN THE CURRENT ECONOMIC environment, it comes as no surprise that some higher ed institutions are beginning to wonder whether a radical strategy like reducing sticker price would be the best way to maintain market share. This spring, deposits were lagging at many private IHEs, even at campuses where admit numbers were up. More families were appealing financial aid awards, and more institutions were responding to those appeals. Officials are concerned students may “melt away” before fall.


JULY 1 WILL MARK THE START of the new budget year in most institutions across the country. Nothing new, as that’s the regular budget cycle of higher education. But new this year are the deep cuts some budgets have undergone due to the economic situation.

Twenty years ago, projectors had three "guns," weighed between 80-120 pounds, were the size of a coffee table, and took a crew of technicians a couple of days to install and converge. They were dim, expensive, and finicky machines, but the one advantage they had over today's bright, ultra-portable, and inexpensive projectors was that you could come into the classroom or lecture theater and pretty much count on still finding them, on the ceiling, where they were yesterday. Theft wasn't an issue.


TODAY’S JOBS MEAN NOTHING without tomorrow’s education. To be sure, stimulus dollars should be deployed to create jobs now. But that deployment also represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in the expansion of our nation’s educational capacity and facilities.