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Insightful Learning

October 2016


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Prep for New Leaders

In the session “Ushering in a New Era of Leadership” three CBO’s discussed the growing number of senior-level retirements and the importance of retaining and developing new talent in order to fill the gap. Speakers agreed that the most important core competencies for the effective CBO are communication skills and the ability to create a sound strategic plan. With nearly 44 percent of senior-level administration leadership retiring within the next three to five years, it is imperative that institutions create succession plans that prepare them for the next chapter.

Speakers—Kim Kvaal, chief financial officer and vice president for financial affairs at St. Edward’s University, Austin; Connie Kanter, senior chief financial officer and vice president, finance and business affairs at Seattle University; and Ken Mullen, vice president for business and finance, University of the Pacific, Stockton, Calif.—shared key tips for effective recruiting strategies.

The speakers identified gaps in their institutions’ succession planning efforts and described steps that they are taking to ensure that staff and new hires know the culture, history, and strategic objectives of their respective universities.

The panel summarized by noting that there has never been a period in higher education with such a large number of transitioning business officers. Creating succession plans will make recruiting a less arduous process.

KHESIA TAYLOR is associate editor of Business Officer, 

Funding for Performance

Like it or not, the trend toward performance-based funding is real, confirmed Jeff Boudouris, senior vice president and chief financial officer of Sinclair Community College, Dayton, Ohio. His state is among the list of 30 and growing that, as of FY16, were developing or implementing some form of a performance-based funding model for higher education. Currently, there is still wide variation in types of models and in terms of what portion of an institution’s funding is tied to set performance standards.

In broad strokes, most performance-based funding models seek to shift the focus from volume of enrollments to successful enrollments—from inputs to outputs—where progression and completion with a credential are what matter more than the number of students enrolled. While most models begin with a statewide goal and clear policy priorities to expand student access and success, the formulas to drive these goals can be complex and may include factors for specific subgroups such as adult learners, at-risk and underrepresented students, and ethnic and minority students.

In his session “The Journey to 100 Percent State Performance-Based Funding,” Boudouris outlined some of the core components of Ohio’s model for community colleges (the state’s four-year colleges and universities have different criteria). These include metrics for course completion, achievement of thresholds (e.g., 12, 24, and 36 college-level credit-hour completions), and completion milestones (degrees and certificates earned, and transfers).

Institutional Goals

As for most community colleges, focus on student success and completion has always been core to Sinclair’s mission. According to Boudouris, the college’s response has been to focus on system redesign, holistic advising, wraparound student services, and competency-based education. This includes developing guided pathways to reduce confusion among students about course of study, mandatory student advising, academic mapping for each student, career coaching, reducing credit-hour requirements for graduation, and an emphasis on reducing course withdrawals.

Controversial Methods

With greater scarcity of public resources and heightened scrutiny of the ways those resources are allocated, performance-based funding is seen by advocates as a tool for increasing the percentage of citizens with a postsecondary credential. As with most models, this approach is not without critics. When Ohio began this journey four years ago, Boudouris admits his concern about how this would impact Sinclair, given the potential for increased competition with other community colleges across the state. In fact, the question of how to ensure that such competition among institutions doesn’t inhibit the sharing of best practices was a common concern. Other questions that remain for many regarding performance-based funding include how to administer the process without it leading to reduced access, diminished quality in credentials and programs, or redistribution of funding away from institutions that need to invest more to help at-risk students get to the finish line.

Currently for many states, outcomes remain a relatively small element of state support to institutions, but this shift toward performance-based outcomes nonetheless can influence activity and drive institutional behavior, causing institutions to re-examine resource allocations on campus, evaluate programming, and pursue alternative delivery models for education. And that can be a good thing, argued Boudouris. He suggested that, as a sector, “if we want to make a strong case to legislators for more funding, we need to show we are moving the needle.”

KARLA HIGNITE, New York City, is a contributing editor for Business Officer.

Top Quality Disaster Preparation

In April 2011, 16 tornadoes struck Alabama, and a category F4 tornado ripped through Tuscaloosa, home to the University of Alabama. Six students and one employee who lived off-campus lost their lives. “It forced us to test our emergency management program,” said UA’s Donald Keith, director of emergency preparedness, and one of the presenters at the session “Accreditation for Comprehensive Emergency Management Programs.”

The efforts in analyzing and improving the university’s emergency management program —a plan that helps in coordination, prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery efforts, while providing for the emergency needs of employees, students, and visitors—resulted in the plan earning 2015 accreditation by the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP).

The disaster planning readiness helps with the safety of the university’s 37,100 enrolled students, nearly 6,700 employees, and 301 buildings.


Sarah Johnston, emergency preparedness manager, said that in implementing an emergency management plan, institutions need to answer these questions:

The Value of Accreditation

The University of Alabama opted for accreditation from EMAP, an independent nonprofit organization that focuses on improving emergency management, because it helped bring together all of the institution’s emergency-related planning into a single guiding document, explained Johnston. EMAP’s criteria are based on best standards and practices from emergency management practitioners. Therefore, the process of accreditation allowed the university to validate the quality of its emergency management plans against current best practices, Johnston said, adding that the program also remains current due to maintenance and reaccreditation requirements.

Other accreditation benefits include:

PREETI VASISHTHA is deputy editor of Business Officer.