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Mainstream Minneapolis

April 2017

By Khesia Taylor

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Ease into the flow of collaborative learning at the NACUBO 2017 Annual Meeting, July 29–August 1, in Minneapolis. The city, hometown to cultural luminaries such as Thomas Friedman, Garrison Keillor, Michele Norris, and—of course—the legendary Prince, serves as a wellspring for innovative change in higher education.

Minneapolis, one of the Twin Cities, along with St. Paul, lies on both banks of the Mississippi River, and at the junction of the Minnesota River. Known as the City of Lakes, it is home to more than 20 lakes, as well as wetlands, creeks, and waterfalls. The city, sized at 59 square miles, is almost 7 percent water.

In part because of its numerous waterways, Minneapolis was once the world’s flour milling capital and hub for timber. It is now a booming business center, with Minneapolis proper containing the fifth-highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies. The city serves as headquarters for Target, General Mills, U.S. Bancorp, Dairy Queen, and many others. As of 2015, these corporations were the largest employers in Minneapolis, in addition to Hennepin County Government, Ameriprise, RBC Wealth Management, and the Star Tribune.

With such corporate presence in the area, it makes sense that Minneapolis can claim many of the country’s top higher education institutions: 12 colleges and universities, including the University of Minnesota, the largest institution in the state.

In addition, according to the Atlantic, Minneapolis is a desirable location for young people under the age of 35. Based on the most recent census figures, the city scores highest in the nation in college graduation rates, median earnings, and the employment rate for 18- to 35-year-olds. And, when compared to other major U.S. cities, it has some of the most affordable housing in the country.

Although it’s known for its brutal winters, Minnesota also supplies months of nicer weather that allow residents and visitors to enjoy a multitude of outdoor activities, such as walking, biking, and running in the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway, and even fishing in the city’s Chain of Lakes. Cultural venues include the Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, the Weisman Art Museum (designed by Frank Gehry), and the Mill City Museum—site of the NACUBO opening event.

The city boasts four professional sports teams—Minnesota Lynx (WNBA), Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA), Minnesota Twins (MLB), and the Minnesota Vikings (NFL); draws multitudes of visitors to Mall of America, where you can find shopping, dining, and an amusement park;  and was the birthplace and permanent residence of  singer and songwriter Prince (1958–2016). His debut movie Purple Rain—and album of the same name—were both filmed and recorded in the city. His Paisley Park private estate is now open to visitors.

“Minneapolis” translates to “water city,” and is the perfect place to host this year’s NACUBO annual meeting, themed “Currents of Collaboration.” Through educational sessions, preconferences, and professional networking, attendees will better understand the role of the chief business officer in navigating connections and steering diverse teams toward a shared vision for the future.

Network, Engage, and Collaborate

Check out the annual meeting website at to see a list of options for targeted learning opportunities in small group meetings.

Roundtables and forums. These sessions offer unique opportunities for attendees to identify and share pressing challenges, explore potential solutions, and learn from the experiences of colleagues. Choose from the roundtables for senior leaders at comprehensive or small institutions, or community colleges. Topics include women’s and diversity issues, global operations, and ways to serve minority students.

Preconference programs for future and new business officers. In conjunction with the annual meeting, NACUBO will offer two preconference workshops that will benefit both aspiring chief business officers and those who have less than three years in their new role. (For details, see sidebar “Exploring Leadership at Interactive Preconference Workshops.”)

Listen and Learn

Again this year, the guidance of NACUBO’s four constituent councils resulted in a collection of concurrent sessions designed to provide insight into focused topics and ideas within the framework of the comprehensive annual meeting program. You can customize your learning experiences by selecting from a rich menu of presentations that target the needs of NACUBO’s primary member segments: community colleges, small institutions, research universities, and comprehensive and doctoral institutions. Here is a brief sampling of the programs:

A New Age: The Impact of Banking Trends on the Millennial Generation. In a time where the average student loan burden is $29,000 and student banking choices have significantly narrowed, finances have become the No. 1 reason why students drop out of college. During this session, speakers will discuss the tools, programs, and workshops that have been put into place to make banking better for the millennial generation by eliminating branches and leveraging mobile technology to lower the cost of banking.

The discussion will focus on understanding students’ perspective of finances and banking, and what tools colleges and universities of all sizes can provide to support those efforts today.

Collaborate to Achieve Cents and Sensibility. There’s a myth that the cost of implementing sustainable practices is too expensive, with little return on investment. However, many universities are discovering that investing in sustainable practices today produces healthy returns, both in future dollar savings and improved campus experience.

During this session, attendees will learn to identify potential opportunities on their campus to implement sustainable practices, rethink the traditional definitions of costs and returns, and gain insight on engaging campus partners in sustainable initiatives.

Collaborative Budget Planning to Enhance Shared Governance. College and university leaders are facing difficult challenges from both inside and outside their institutions. Institutional costs are rising while sources of revenue are not. During this session, speakers will describe and share successful models of collaborative budget planning as one element in building shared trust and financial responsibility across the institution to respond successfully to today’s challenges.

How to Start a Grassroots Movement: UCR’S Organizational Excellence Initiative. The University of California Riverside created a radically different grassroots version of organizational excellence (OE) that has faculty and staff excited about streamlining and standardizing practices. In this session, learn how to introduce OE to your campus, secure support for it among leadership, cultivate ownership of organizational excellence within the broader campus, create staff champions, and promote professional development at all levels.

Lessen the Confusion About Higher Education Accounting and Auditing 2.0. Best practices for internal controls will be the focus of this session, where new accounting standards, financial statement issues, depreciable vs. expendable, bad debt methodologies, and more will be discussed. Attendees will be able to understand accounting practices that affect their institutions and learn how to maximize the role of the institution’s audit committee.

Lessons From TIER—Efficiency Review Conducted at Iowa’s Public Universities. College and universities are challenged daily to make the necessary transformations to strategically position themselves in the dynamic higher education environment. Hear how one state’s public institutions undertook a comprehensive review of their operations to identify key strengths and challenges, develop strategic priorities, improve delivery service, and reduce costs.

Leveraging Private Capital for Campus Development: A Case Study at Boise State. Like many institutions, Boise State University had multiple goals and numerous initiatives, but limited resources. The university turned to the public-private partnership model and selected Educational Realty Trust (EdR) for the development of new student housing, in a purpose-built, mixed-use facility anchored by the Honors College. During this session, which will be an interactive case study, presenters will provide an overview of the project and deal structure, and how the project facilitated solutions to real issues at Boise State.

Linking Operational Scorecards and Financial Statements to Improve Performance. College and university departments are struggling to meet the challenges of budget cuts and reduced funding. This presentation will show how to create a model of the strategy that allows all employees to clearly see how they contribute to the organization’s success and provide ways for them to actively impact their unit’s performance. The presenters will share how one business unit at The Ohio State University developed and integrated financial reports, operational scorecards, and Lean Six Sigma tools to strategically identify and implement costs savings with minimal impact on service delivery.

New Ways to Lead, Collaborate, and Succeed with IT Investments. With technology playing an important role in both institutional growth and health, business officers are looking for practical ways of collaborating, evaluating, and monitoring IT investments. During this session, a panel of IT experts will explain how a campus can leverage technological advancements to achieve true business value, significantly improve the quality of student life, and empower colleagues so that they can do a better job.

Partnering With HR to Drive Strategic Change. To improve performance, colleges and universities must align human resource strategies with the overall mission of the institution. Learn how Clemson University developed a dashboard that provides university leadership and the board of trustees with data and metrics to aid in decision making. The panel will explore how to integrate HR into the development of strategic and operational goals of the university.

Recruiting and Retaining an Ethnically and Economically Diverse Student Body. The demographic shifts and economic turmoil of recent years have highlighted the challenge of not only recruiting, but also retaining, a more diverse student body. A successful retention program must identify risk factors, monitor student progress, and document enrollment and financial return. This session will examine how two distinctly different institutions use predictive modeling techniques and tracking software to continuously improve student performance and retention.

Spending Strategies for the Future. Given the outlook for muted returns in the coming years, what tools can finance teams and investment committees use to chart a smoother path into the future? This presentation will cover a practitioner’s view on spending and will offer different spending methodologies oriented around maintaining a portfolio’s purchasing power.

Using Multiyear Forecasting to Assess Financial Strength and Engage Stakeholders. This session will focus on the value and benefits of developing a strategic, multiyear forecasting process, which can strengthen institutional financial management. This presentation will include perspectives from the system office, campus, and consultant, each describing their journey through the process and identifying major elements of a forecast.

Explore and Discover

NACUBO’s annual meeting provides several opportunities during the conference for you to engage with your peers through fitness, community service, tours, and more. Take a look at the events lined up for this year:

Meet us at the Mill—the opening event. This year’s annual meeting experience will kick off on Saturday, July 29, at the Mill City Museum, located on the historic Mississippi River waterfront. You’ll enjoy food and drinks in a museum that has been built on the ruins of what was once the world’s largest flour mill.

Attendees will have the opportunity to explore the complex and learn about the former flour mill’s history, the largest and best-preserved of its water power facilities, and enjoy the view from the rooftop deck overlooking the Mississippi River waterfront.

Golf Outing. Join your peers and industry partners for a day of friendly competition at Stonebrooke Golf Club. An early morning shotgun start on the Champion course is a great way to kick off the annual meeting. With its magnificent landscape, elevation changes, mature trees, and unique mix of great holes, Stonebrooke is considered “the perfect Minnesota golf experience,” regardless of skill level. There is an additional fee to participate. Reserve your spot or sign up as a group of up to four people.

Navigating NACUBO. Those attending the annual meeting for the first time are invited to a special breakfast designed to help navigate their experience. This is a great opportunity to meet board members and key individuals from the association’s leadership team.

NACUBO Fitness. Evidence has shown that exercise has profound benefits on brain function in the areas of learning and memory. NACUBO wants to help you stay on top of your game by offering fitness options each day of the annual meeting. Join your colleagues for yoga on Sunday and Tuesday mornings.

Happy Hour in the Expo. Relax and enjoy some refreshments while visiting the exhibitors during the Expo Happy Hour.

5k Fun Run. Early Monday morning, the truly dedicated of NACUBO are invited to participate in the NACUBO 5k at Loring Park, home to biking and walking paths that wind around the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway. The perfect location for summer in Minneapolis, participants can warm up with a short 10-minute walk from annual meeting hotels. Advance sign-up is required.

Campus Tours. The opportunity for local institutions to showcase areas of innovation and sustainability practices has been a popular enhancement to the annual meeting experience. Colleges and universities have featured various campus components, such as multiuse facilities, student housing, a dining hall, classroom space, and historical architecture. This year, tours will be held at Augsburg College and the University of Minnesota. Space is limited and advance sign-up is required. Visit for more information.

Four walls, a soundboard, and a stage. Close out the NACUBO annual meeting at First Avenue, the epicenter of live music and entertainment in Minneapolis. Popularly known as the primary setting in the movie Purple Rain, this historic building has been the longest continual entertainment and music venue in the Twin Cities. The walls—known as The Stars—of First Avenue are filled with the names of famous performers who have graced their stage. There will be food, music, and dancing—a night you don’t want to miss.

Meet the First Registrant

This year’s first annual meeting registrant was Karen Canup, vice president for business and finance at Sherman College of Chiropractic, Boiling Springs, S.C. Canup has been at the college for five years, and this is her fifth time attending the NACUBO annual meeting.

She first attended in 2013, after being promoted from director of finance to vice president for business and finance. Unfortunately, her late registration did not permit her to participate in the campus tour offered that year.

She also missed the campus tour the following year in Seattle and was determined to make early registration a priority on her to-do list. Her campus has spent the last few years heavily engaged in developing a master facilities plan, so she really wanted to take advantage of experiencing what other campuses have done. Finally, in 2015 and 2016, she was able to attend the campus tours at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, and McGill University, Montréal, respectively. Impressed with both tours, she hopes to be able to attend the campus tour whenever it is offered.

This year, when it was time to register, she was working late on January 31, and as she reviewed her February to-do list, she noticed that registration would open on February 1. Since registration was open, she went ahead and took care of it immediately, which included reserving her spot on the tour.

As this year’s first registrant, Canup received a destination-themed gift box from NACUBO’s director, annual meetings, courtesy of Meet Minneapolis.

Serving the Community

On Saturday, July 29, NACUBO will host its annual service project event, to be held at Washburn Elementary School, in conjunction with HandsOn Twin Cities, the U.S. Green Building Council, and Washburn Elementary. The project will consist of constructing an outdoor environmental learning center. This outdoor classroom will allow Washburn students the opportunity to experience the benefits of environmental learning, including improved health and grades, reduced stress, better overall behavior, and more.

Specific projects will include building a shaded structure and 15 benches for the classroom, installing mosaic stepping stones, assembling a free “little library,” making an outdoor classroom/garden sign, installing dry river bed(s), mulching, and other projects.

Recalibrating Your World View

This year’s general session speakers will tackle many complex issues facing the world, and as a result, affecting higher education. As political, racial, social, and cultural issues continue to arise on campus, these thought leaders will share with business officers how to move into a space that promotes collaboration across the campus.

Best-selling author and columnist. Thomas L. Friedman, best-selling author of The World Is Flat (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2005) and New York Times foreign affairs columnist is renowned for his direct reporting and sophisticated analysis of complex issues facing the world. According to Foreign Policy magazine, “Friedman doesn’t just report on events; he helps shape them.”

Winner of three Pulitzer Prizes, Friedman will kick off the first general session on Sunday, July 30. His presentation will be informed by his voluminous reporting and writing. Friedman has covered, since 1981, monumental stories from around the globe for The New York Times. Vanity Fair called him “the country’s best newspaper columnist.”

In his new book, Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2016), Friedman offers a blueprint for overcoming the stresses and challenges of a world being transformed by technology, globalization, and climate change.

Friedman’s The World Is Flat has sold four-and-a-half million copies and won the inaugural Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award. In 2012, Friedman updated From Beirut to Jerusalem (Harper Collins Canada Ltd, 2000), which was a National Book Award winner, adding a fresh discussion of the Arab awakenings and Arab/Israeli relations in a new preface and afterword.

Friedman’s Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution—and How It Can Renew America (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2008), was a No. 1 New York Times best-seller. Friedman’s other best-sellers include Longitudes and Attitudes: The World in the Age of Terrorism (Anchor, 2002) and The Lexus and the Olive Tree (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1999),  which Kirkus Reviews called “simply the best book written on globalization.”

In awarding Friedman his third Pulitzer Prize, the Pulitzer Board cited his “clarity of vision, based on extensive reporting, in commenting on the worldwide impact of the terrorist threat.”

Look for Business Officer’s May issue, in which Friedman provides an advance interview and a preview of his remarks at the upcoming meeting.

NPR host and founder of The Race Card Project. Michele Norris is an award-winning journalist with more than two decades of experience. Previously, Norris served as co-host of NPR’s newsmagazine All Things Considered, public radio’s longest-running national program, with Robert Siegel and Melissa Block. She began hosting the program in December 2002, and stepped away from her NPR duties during the 2012 presidential campaign. While on sabbatical, Norris spent time traveling the country and developing two successful initiatives: The Race Card Project and NPR’s Backseat Book Club. (See the interview with Michelle Norris, “Islands of Civility.”)

In September 2010, Norris released her first book, The Grace of Silence: A Memoir (Vintage, 2010), which focuses on how America talks about race in the wake of Barack Obama’s presidential election, and explores her own family’s racial legacy. Using her memoir as a catalyst for conversation, Norris has addressed thousands of students through campus One Book programs, encouraging discussions about the history of race relations in the U.S.

Before joining NPR, Norris was a correspondent for ABC News, a post she held from 1993 to 2002. As a contributing correspondent for the “Closer Look” segments on World News Tonight With Peter Jennings, Norris reported extensively on education, inner city issues, the nation’s drug problem, and poverty. Norris has also reported for the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and Los Angeles Times. Her Washington Post series about a six-year-old who lived in a crack house was reprinted in the book Ourselves Among Others (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000), along with essays by Václav Havel, Nelson Mandela, Annie Dillard, and Gabriel García Márquez.

Norris has received numerous awards for her work, including the 2010 Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award for her program “The York Project: Race and the 2008 Vote,” which she co-hosted with Steve Inskeep; the 2009 Journalist of the Year award from the National Association of Black Journalists; the National Association of Black Journalists’ 2006 Salute to Excellence Award, for her coverage of Hurricane Katrina; the University of Minnesota’s Outstanding Achievement Award; and the 1990 Livingston Award. In 2007, she was honored with EBONY magazine’s eighth Annual Outstanding Women in Marketing and Communications Award. Norris also earned both an Emmy Award and Peabody Award for her contribution to ABC News coverage of 9/11.

Hear Norris’ address during the general session on Monday, July 31.

Humorist and Best-selling Author. Best-selling author, Bill Bryson has established himself as one of the world’s most beloved and prolific commentators, by finding delight in the minutiae of travel and the subtleties of culture. He has chronicled everything from hiking the Appalachian Trail in the immensely popular, A Walk in the Woods (Broadway Books, 1997), named one of TIME magazine’s “All-Time 100 Best Nonfiction Books,” to capturing the zeitgeist of the Roaring Twenties in One Summer: America 1927 (Anchor, 2013).

Bryson shot to prominence in the United Kingdom with Notes from a Small Island (HarperCollins, 1995), a humorous travel book that takes readers on an exploration of Great Britain, which was also adapted for television.

“Bryson could write an essay about dryer lint or fever reducers and still make us laugh out loud,” says the Chicago Sun Times of the man known for his quirky observations.

For all the acclaim, the award-winning Bryson is as unassuming as any Iowa-born, British citizen can be.

The film adaptation of Bryson’s popular book A Walk in the Woods, starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte, was released in September 2015.

Hear Bryson on Tuesday, August 1, during the final general session of the annual meeting.

KHESIA TAYLOR is associate editor for Business Officer.