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Articles: Asset & Investments

Public-private partnerships are a growing trend that allow universities to fund the construction of new buildings and, if desired, turn over maintenance and operations to skilled partners. Structuring these decades-long partnerships for a successful outcome involves careful planning on the big decisions and the details.

In 2016, news outlets across the nation reported several accidents and inconveniences in private student housing developments.

In Baltimore, a Morgan State University student was fatally stabbed in such a housing complex. At the College of Charleston in South Carolina, a student fell over a sixth-floor railing and was taken to the hospital in critical condition.

And on the eve of finals, 80 UNC-Charlotte students were evacuated from a private housing complex because their building was sinking and deemed unsafe.

Although Granville Towers, located across the street from UNC Chapel Hill’s campus, was built in 1964, it has been refurbished and updated multiple times by EdR, which manages the 1,327-bed residence hall. Student amenities include weekly housekeeping services for in-suite bathrooms, on-site dining hall and fitness center, a community kitchen, study lounges and a gift-wrapping station.

“What advice do you have for administrators about making long-term relationships with firms like yours beneficial for both parties?”

“Colleges and universities must clearly define their primary objectives and maintain a degree of flexibility with respect to their approach in ultimately determining the business relationship with their private sector partner. By their very nature, P3s are not ‘business as usual’ and therefore require clarity of purpose and flexibility in approach.”

Barbara Ross-Lee is VP for Health Sciences and Medical Affairs at New York Institute of Technology and  founding dean of NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University.

The U.S. may be short nearly 95,000 doctors within the next 10 years. That shortage is projected to be most acute in Southern states. In response, private medical schools—even institutions hundreds of miles away—are looking to open satellite locations on the campuses of public universities.

Campus leaders across the country are working to spend money with businesses owned by minorities, women, veterans and other underrepresented groups. An equally important goal shared by many institutions is helping these business owners develop the know-how to compete in the wider economy.

Many higher ed librarians say they have found new ways to navigate the journal-subscription system.

Librarians and their advocates are also pushing for systemic change: a transition away from the subscription-based model of scholarly communication and toward open access. This transition to free availability of published research is one librarians say university administrators should work to accelerate.

Leigh Greden is advisor to the president, and Russ Olwell is interim director of government and community relations at Eastern Michigan University.

Programs to help employees purchase housing near campus have gained favor in the past decade. A housing program that improves neglected areas only increases the profile and potential of the entire campus community.

The Venture Development Center has all the hallmarks of a typical startup: Computers running equations, whiteboards covered with revenue projections and caffeine-fueled meetings about venture capital in glass-walled rooms. But it's more than that: the center is also a University of Massachusetts, Boston incubator that houses dozens of fledgling bioscience and computer science firms.

Talent, technologies and capital converge at TechTown Detroit, an incubator formed by Wayne State University in partnership with General Motors and the Henry Ford Health System. Since 2004 TechTown has been housed in a 1920s-era building contributed by GM.

It takes more than good intentions and extra space to be successful in starting an incubator.

Here are three tips to to help campus departments of economic development go from idea to execution:

Herman Bulls is vice chairman of JLL Americas, specializing in delivering comprehensive real estate solutions to federal, state and local governments, nonprofit organizations and higher education institutions.

The phrase “town and gown” is rooted in the notion that universities and the surrounding communities are naturally at odds. But forward-looking colleges and universities are finding deep value in blurring those lines, and instead are leveraging mixed-use developments to improve the community and campus alike.

Revenue alone doesn’t drive every real estate initiative. Higher ed institutions involved in development, typically off-campus, also consider the economic revitalization of a blighted surrounding neighborhood and initiatives that support the core mission.

Intentional Endowments Network supports investment practices that produce financial returns while addressing environmental, social, governance and sustainability factors.

With college students increasingly calling on schools to divest endowments from fossil fuels, Becker College in Massachusetts became the first institution to mandate that all of its investments generate a positive impact on society—and a targeted financial return.

Being able to draw from the endowment is important for an institution like Berea College because of its no-tuition promise. Students are required to work as they attend school, with assignments such as greeting guests at the Historic Boone Tavern Hotel.

On average, academic institutions spend between 4.5 and 5 percent of their endowments annually. But when endowment returns are way down, it’s not exactly prudent to spend the same percentage of the endowment with the assumption that target investment payoff percentages will return.

It’s certainly not black or white for investors.

“The discussion around the table in investment committees is: How do you allocate risk across various investment options available to optimize returns for five to seven years? There isn’t a neat, pat answer,” says Bill Jarvis of the Commonfund Institute.

Officials at the University of Missouri in 2012 looked at the business troubles of its academic press and decided the most prudent path forward was to shut it down. The community disagreed, lobbying against the closure, and the university recanted.

The whole affair emphasizes that academic publishing is not about dollars, but about the proliferation of scholarly and research-based writing, says David Rosenbaum, director of Mizzou’s press.

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