Fifty faculty members representing all 14 ACM colleges will take a two-day plunge into the world of college finances on June 22-23 at the ACM Institute on College Futures (ICF) in Chicago.
The seminar — the third in a series of four annual Institutes funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation — will begin with a big picture view of the economics of higher education and then progressively zoom in to lay out the financial challenges that ACM colleges grapple with in sustaining academic excellence while balancing budgets.
“ICF is all about increasing the knowledge about college finances on our campuses and helping faculty take a more active, informed role in their colleges’ governance and strategic planning,” said Brian Williams, ACM Vice President and Director of Faculty Development and Grant Programs.
2015 Institute on College Futures
June 22-23 in Chicago
“The goal of this Institute is not simply for participants to come to Chicago and absorb the information for their own understanding, as valuable as that is,” Williams said. “We want to create a ripple effect, to spread the learning by preparing the faculty at the seminar so they can give presentations on this material to faculty and staff on their own campuses.”
As in the previous two seminars, the 2015 Institute schedule features presentations by four ACM college leaders who will outline the broad economic environment in which higher education operates and then focus in on the financial forces impacting private liberal arts colleges, and specifically the ACM colleges.
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Those presentations will be:
- The Economics of Higher Education by Jill Tiefenthaler, President, Colorado College
- The Tuition Driven School’s Dilemma by Scott Bierman, President, Beloit College;
- College Finances 101 by Michael T. Orr, Krebs Provost & Dean of the Faculty, Lake Forest College; and
- Financial Challenges for the Future by David Wheaton, Vice President for Administration & Finance, Macalester College.
Tiefenthaler and Bierman will bring their backgrounds as economists to bear in their presentations, which are structured to provide a foundation for the Institute and to serve as a springboard into the first day’s breakout group exercise, Framing Responses to Commentaries on Higher Education Economics.
In the exercise, seminar participants will engage in small group discussions of several provocative opinion pieces, drawn from The New York Times, The Atlantic, and other publications, on topics related to the cost of college.
“The assignment for each group is to read one of the articles, talk about it, and collectively write a brief response to the argument the author has made,” Williams said. “Then we’ll bring everyone back together and the small groups will report on their responses to the issues raised in the articles.”
The pair of presentations by Orr and Wheaton will explore the dynamics of the liberal arts college financial model, analyzing the major categories of revenues and expenses, explaining concepts such as the discount rate, and looking at factors that affect a college’s financial equilibrium.
In a follow-up workshop session, Wheaton will draw on data from the ACM colleges — for example, tuition and other charges, revenues, discount rate, annual fund gifts, and endowment — to lead seminar participants through a variety of interactive expense and revenue scenarios that demonstrate the challenges that ACM institutions face in balancing their budgets over time.
The 2015 Institute will wrap up with an afternoon devoted to supporting the campus teams as they begin preparing presentations they will give to other faculty and staff at their colleges. During three back-to-back sessions, faculty will draft an outline of a presentation to give on their campus, then share their outlines with faculty from two or three other campuses, and finally gather with the entire Institute group to highlight key ideas and information that teams plan to cover in their presentations.
“At the conclusion of the Institute, we want the participants to be able to articulate the main points presented at the Institute in ways that they think will be meaningful for their campus colleagues within the context of their own institution,” said Williams. “We’ve heard about the interest generated by presentations on the campuses following the 2013 and 2014 seminars, and hope that faculty participating in this year’s Institute will be able to build on that momentum.”