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Year-end statements for pensions, 403(b) accounts, and mutual funds aren't as frightening to open as they were this time last year. University endowment managers usually wait until their fiscal year ends in June before they really look at their statements, but interim surveys indicate that performance has improved.

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."

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.

It's too early to prescribe a tried-and-true methodology for meeting Donor 3.0 actively. There's still much change and experimentation happening, and each college or university will have to tailor its strategy to the peculiarities of that community. But laying a strategic groundwork will help cut through the hype, navigate among options, and recognize (even create) new, less obvious opportunities.

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.”


Charles Dickens penned the opening lines of “A Tale of Two Cities” to describe French Revolutionary times, but they could easily apply to the modern world of student refunds. Or, more specifically, to two of the primary alternatives to paper checks. One is simple, secure and smart. The other can be convoluted, controversial and painful for students.

Student Union Building, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Universal design requires a lot of communication across the building’s users. Here are pointers from Elizabeth Watson, director of the Center for Students with Disabilities at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and Sean Vance, director of The Center for Universal Design and an extension assistant professor at North Carolina State University’s school of architecture, on how to ensure you say the right thing:

It’s not just students who should be educated in fire prevention. College and university employees may need to brush up on what to do in the case of an occurrence. “All too often we find that the faculty, and to some extent staff, are woefully unprepared, misinformed, or plain naive about fire safety,” says Paul Martin, vice president for The Center for Campus Fire Safety.

Following the fatal Seton Hall University dorm fire in 2000, legislation required all New Jersey colleges and universities to retrofit their residence halls with sprinkler systems. It’s a move being made by institutions across the country as well.

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