Creating Sustainable Business Models for the Post-Pandemic Campus


​​​March 30, April 6, April 13, and April 27

Institutions suffer from a lack of collective understanding around budget and finance—​where does the money come from, and where does it go? As a result, institutions are unaware of their economic engines and the levers under their control to create more sustainable business models. This need to open up the black box of higher education finance becomes all the more urgent as institutions plan for the post-pandemic campus through shared leadership. This course will share best practices from the field regarding sustainable business models behind academic portfolios, student success initiatives, and administrative services. These best practices will be discussed within the framework of return on investment (ROI). Finally, participants will be invited to create action plans supporting ROI approaches at their own institutions, increasing their chances of moving to a longer-term, sustainable shared future vision.

Learning Objectives and Microcredentials

Learning Objectives

After completing this workshop, participants will:

  • Understand the shift from traditional approaches to resource allocation to a return-on-investment lens
  • Be able to identify the components of ROI
  • Be familiar with best practices in the field for creating sustainable business models
  • Have created and discussed peer and expert feedback on action plans for adopting an ROI approach at their own institution, with an emphasis on moving successfully from survival to recovery to sustainability post-pandemic

Strategic Finance Microcredential

Participants may complete optional assignments and receive constructive feedback from course facilitators on how to improve and shape their work. Those who complete all the assignments will receive an ACE Strategic Finance microcredential⁠–issued as an open digital badge⁠–which they can add to their CV, LinkedIn profile, and Credly Acclaim.

Details and Facilitators

W​ho Should Attend

Because shared leadership and integrated planning are key to building sustainable business models, this workshop is designed for all institutional leaders interested in learning more about higher education finance and its application to decision-making. The workshop will be of particular benefit to faculty and staff who manage institutional resources (people, time, and money). Finally, institutions may want to consider sending a team to participate in the workshop, allowing for cross-discipline and cross-functional experiences as part of the learning model and assignments. 


Donna Desrochers
Associate, rpk GROUP
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Donna Desrochers - Associate, rpk GROUP  -
Donna Desrochers
Associate, rpk GROUP
Katie Hagan
Senior Associate, rpk GROUP
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Katie Hagan - Senior Associate, rpk GROUP -
Katie Hagan
Senior Associate, rpk GROUP
Rick Staisloff
Senior Partner, rpk GROUP
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Rick Staisloff  - Senior Partner, rpk GROUP -
Rick Staisloff
Senior Partner, rpk GROUP

 Session 1: Moving from Spending to an ROI Lens

March 30, 2021, 1:00-2:30 p.m. ET

In this session, we introduce the shift from traditional budget models focused on spending to a new approach based on return on investment (ROI). Participants will explore how the ROI approach better responds to changes in the external environment.

Special guest: Jon Turk, director of research at ACE, will share new Pulse Point survey findings on the biggest financial pressures colleges and universities are facing.

Session Activity

  • Participants will debate the following: 1) Is higher education ready to adopt an ROI lens?; 2) How different is the ROI approach?; 3) What would change at your institution as the result of a shift to an ROI approach? 
  • Participants will also capture what they consider to be the top three best practices when shifting to an ROI lens. ​

 Session 2: Deeper Dive into ROI

April 6, 2021, 1:00-2:30 p.m. ET

In session two, we'll take a deeper dive into the application of an ROI lens. Case studies will be used, examining academic portfolios, student success initiatives, and administrative services.

Session Activity

  • What challenges would you likely face in applying an ROI lens at your institution, and how might those challenges be addressed?
  • In what ways does the application of an ROI lens differ when used for academic, student, and administrative services?

 Session 3: Creating an ROI Action Plan

​April 13, 2021, 1:00-2:30 p.m. ET

Participants will build on the skills from Sessions 1 and 2 to consider an action plan for applying an ROI lens. Facilitators will share pitfalls to avoid and strategies for implementing change management approaches. 

Session Activity

  • Participants will identify the components necessary to create an action plan for implementing an ROI lens at their own institution.

 Session 4: ROI in Action

​April 27, 2021, 1:00-2:30 p.m. ET

This session will provide general feedback on the action plan creation and allow participants to engage with practitioners in the field.

Special guests: Members of a strategic finance leadership group convened by rpk GROUP and ACE to map an agenda for the field. 

Session Activity​

  • Participants will capture key best practice for implementing an ROI lens.

Registration Closed

Registration for this workshop series is now closed.