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Articles: Revenues

There was just one problem with State University of New York at Cobleskill’s otherwise successful plan to boost revenue by focusing on noncredit-bearing professional education programs and community-based programming.

That was finding a better way to get students signed up for classes, yet one that was cost-neutral so as not to wipe out the revenue gains.

In his 2011 State of the Union message, President Obama proclaimed that the "first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation." The Bayh-Dole Act, which I co-sponsored with Senator Robert Dole in 1980, has done just that. I've watched with great interest as the Bayh-Dole Act has established our university technology transfer system as a model for the world by permitting universities, small businesses, and nonprofits to own and manage patentable inventions arising from research conducted in their labs using federal funds.

Across many college campuses, one of the most innovative, yet sometimes controversial, initiatives in recent years has been the embrace and development of online programs. While avoiding the philosophical debate between online educational delivery and traditional on-campus programs, it is more critical to discuss the philosophy of the creation of online learning and its relevance in American economic growth.

America knows higher education. No other country in the world possesses the breadth and depth of comprehensive educational delivery like our uniquely American system.

Interest in collecting payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs) from higher ed institutions and other nonprofits is likely to grow as cash-strapped municipalities seek additional revenue, according to a new report by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. But the recommendation for cities and towns is to collaborate with colleges about the payments to ensure greater consistency and transparency.

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?

Over the past two years, Arizona State University has opened two new schools at its campuses in the Phoenix area. But these educational additions are not training future social workers, lawyers, or business executives. They'll be turning out qualified future college students, many of whom—ASU officials hope—will populate the state's universities years from now.

Are you watching all the for-profit universities'; stocks soar as their online programs grow by double-digit percentages?

Have you been reading about private equity firms buying failed private colleges and "preserving the mission,"; but developing online programs? Do you wonder how the University of Phoenix grew to more than 400,000 students? Do you believe that you could develop online programs, market them nationally, capture a small share of those online students, and add millions to your bottom line?

WHEN IT BECOMES HARDER TO raise funds and the notion of success is coming up with just 90 percent of last year's revenues, fundraisers must get smarter--by better understanding their donors and the different tools and approaches to connecting with them. Colleges and universities of all sizes now have the opportunity to influence and motivate a new generation of donors and get them in the "habit of giving," but it's an uphill climb. The competition for every second of attention and each dollar is frenetic.

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.

In 2000, the University of Washington School of Medicine sought a project model to build new laboratory space beyond the traditional UW campus. Their goals were to construct a high quality lab building that provided space in alignment with the national reputation of the institution—and to provide that space quickly. To accomplish those goals, the school sought alternative, market rate financing outside of the lengthy six-year State of Washington capital development process and a sophisticated team to deliver it.

Hardly a day goes by without a college announcing jobs, programs, or spending cuts. You would think with all the brainpower at our colleges and universities they would be able to come up with better solutions than lopping off people, sections and services to students. But they don’t seem to. Why not?

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