Outside the circle of higher ed facilities managers, it’s the shiny new campus buildings that get all the glory. Yet what facilities insiders know all too well is that existing buildings are in dire need of attention.
“Parents need a thorough understanding of the costs related to college and the options for paying college expenses. The need for timely, understandable information is especially acute in households with no previous experience with the going-to-college process. Colleges often assume parents already have knowledge about budgeting for college, the cost of student loans and effective repayment strategies, so they often don’t address these issues when they provide parents with information.”
—George Covino, vice president of consulting, USA Funds
Loan default rates and an expanding focus on student success have made strong student financial literacy efforts a higher ed norm. But as students and their parents continue to grapple with paying for school, money management lessons from colleges are becoming a family affair.
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.
The uncovering of outrageous abuses of travel policies, along with tight budgets and public skepticism of tuition increases, are leading to scrutiny of every penny spent on travel. Long gone are the chauffeured limousines, $1,200-a-night hotel rooms and other lavish expenses of traveling administrators at some institutions that have grabbed news headlines.
Roughly six years ago, David Lewis served on a team that was designing policies for a new college in the Middle East. As president of OperationsInc., a national HR consulting and outsourcing firm, he met with seven top U.S. higher ed institutions to review their policies, including travel.
To Lewis, travel has now become “a game”—with institutional officials figuring out ways to prevent employees from manipulating policies.
To help convert rogue employees into team players, he offers the following tips:
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?
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.
Those involved in securing credit card data used in higher ed transactions need to be aware that banks are beginning to exercise greater scrutiny over these activities. It’s more important than ever that campus officials get a firm hold on, and a clear understanding of, this aspect of their operations.