You are here

Editor's Note

Your Guide Through Rough Waters

University Business, Jul 2010

Summer is typically a time for relaxing—for most people. In higher education, no one rests for long. Running an institution is often just as time-consuming and intense as at any time of the year, and this summer seems to be more turbulent than ever. As many institutions continue to face the dual problems of booming enrollments and deeper cuts, they must also contend with myriad other issues brought on by new federal regulations in student aid, institutional funding, and health care. Is it a coincidence that there seems to be a rash of higher education leaders stepping down and opting for early retirement?

In recent weeks, I've attended both the NASFAA and NACUBO annual conferences to get a sense of what is on the minds of administrators around the country. It is, perhaps, a sign of the times that attendance at both these conferences was up, as higher ed leaders met with their peers to share ideas and find solutions to their problems.

What issues topped the list? For financial aid administrators, there was much debate—and confusion—about new federal requirements concerning Net Cost Calculators and direct lending laws that took effect in July. For business officers, discussions ran the gamut from sustainability and global education to leadership issues and tuition pricing concerns.

Clearly, higher education is looking for help navigating rough waters. That's where we come in. As our tag line says, our mission is to offer solutions for higher education management.

For example, in this issue you'll read how to avoid the "land mines" that can often derail an otherwise successful leader. It's often said that experience is the best teacher, but we think it is preferable to learn from the experiences of those who have "been there and done that" first.

Is it a coincidence that a rash of higher ed leaders are stepping down?

We also bring you our Annual Directory of Higher Education Consultants. When budgets are stretched to their limits, institutions often come under fire from constituent groups for hiring high-priced consultants. It flies in the face of common sense. But consider the cost of not doing anything.

The consultants featured in our guide are longtime higher ed professionals, many of whom have served as administrators themselves at various schools. They have proven track records of helping colleges and universities develop strategic plans for an uncertain future, boost enrollment and retention, and save money through increased efficiencies.

And speaking of efficiencies, we round out this issue with the second installment of our ongoing Models of Efficiency program. We continue to be surprised at the resourcefulness of the campus departments that have participated to date. Whether through technology or business process enhancements, or both, administrators are finding ways to better serve students and constituents, and we believe you'll find their stories compelling.

As you know, one of the requirements of the program is that the efficiency improvement must be replicable by other institutions, and that rule has paid off. In fact, one of our Models of Efficiency honorees from May recently told me that he hears from two or three institutions a month who want more information on his department's particular solution.

We hope you'll be inspired by what you read, and will share your own stories with us.


Write me at