Strategic Finance Learning Studio: Workshop


Some in higher education lack understanding around ​budget and finance at their institution—where does the money come from, and where does it go? As a result, staff are unaware of the campus 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 more urgent in light of institutional responses to COVID-19. At this workshop, learn best practices from the field, including 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 exposed to approaches for creating action plans to move from the immediate response to COVID-19 to a longer-term, sustainable shared future vision.

Sessions will take place on September 16, 23, and 30 from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m ET.

What to Expect

During this workshop, participants will:

  • Dive into research on the financial impact and possible responses to COVID-19 compared to the Great Recession of 2008
  • Examine the shift from traditional approaches to resource allocation to a return on investment lens
  • Explore the components of ROI
  • Review and discuss best practices in the field for creating sustainable business models
  • Be exposed to best practices for adopting an ROI approach at their institution, with an emphasis on moving successfully from survival to recovery to sustainability in light of COVID-19
Session Details

 Session 1: COVID-19 vs. the Great Recession—How Should Higher Education Respond?

​In this session, we contrast the likely financial impact of COVID-19 to the last economic downturn higher education faced—​the Great Recession of 2008. Particular emphasis will be placed on levers available to institutions as they seek to move from an immediate response to COVID-19, to a period of recovery through fall 2020, and ultimately the creation of new sustainable business models.

 Session 2: Moving from Spending to an ROI Lens

​In this session, we examine 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. Case studies will be used, looking at the application of an ROI lens. These case studies will examine academic portfolios, student success initiatives, and administrative services.

 Session 3: Creating an ROI Action Plan in Response to COVID-19

Participants will build on the skills from Sessions 1 and 2 to consider an action plan for applying an ROI lens as they respond to the financial impacts from COVID-19. Facilitators will share pitfalls to avoid and strategies for implementing change management approaches.