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2017 Seminar

2017 Institute on College Futures

Institute on College Futures

June 22-23, 2017
ACM office, Chicago, IL

Links to ICF Videos

Watch four brief videos with excerpts from the ICF presentations, plus links to full-length presentation videos!

Seminar Program and Schedule


11:00 a.m. - Registration

11:45 a.m. - Welcome and Introductions by Christopher Welna, President, ACM

Jill Tiefenthaler

Jill Tiefenthaler

Noon - Keynote Address - The Dialogue Begins: The Economics of Higher Education

Presenter:  Jill Tiefenthaler, President, Colorado College

1:00 p.m. - Lunch

Scott Bierman

Scott Bierman

2:00 p.m. - Keynote Address - The Economics of the Liberal Arts Colleges

Presenter: Scott Bierman, President, Beloit College

3:00 p.m. - Q & A for Keynote Presentations

3:45 p.m. - Break

4:00 p.m. - 1st Breakout GroupCommon Challenges and Themes for the Liberal Arts Model


Overview of the Academic Enterprise:
• Ben Wildavsky, “Reinventing the Academic Enterprise: College Leaders Consider the Challenges of the New Era,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2016.
• Matthew M. Chingos, “Don’t forget private, non-profit colleges,” February 16, 2017

• David Oxtoby, “Endowments Are Financial Pillars, Not Piggy Banks,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, September 21, 2015

Discount Rates:
• Rick Seltzer, “Discount rates rise yet again at private colleges and universities,” Inside Higher Education, May 16, 2016
• Peter Schmidt, “Is Tuition Discounting Leading Some Colleges off a Cliff?”, The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 28, 2017

Goal: Building on content from keynote presentations and selected readings, faculty participants will identify the common challenges that all liberal arts colleges face in today’s competitive environment and discuss the themes around which subsequent conversations can proceed.

Approach: In small groups composed of faculty from multiple campuses, discuss and report back on the following prompts:
• Based on the keynote presentations, what do you perceive to be two or three themes related to strategic financial planning that are relevant to ACM colleges?
• What are the challenges and/or opportunities that ACM colleges face in strategically managing their financial resources to maximize the quality of teaching and learning on their campuses?
• Where are the areas of overlap and difference with respect to the challenges and opportunities that ACM colleges face?

4:45 p.m. - Plenary Session Debrief on Breakout Group Discussions

5:30 p.m. - Dinner in small groups, with suggested discussion topics


8:00 a.m. - Breakfast

8:30 a.m. - Brief discussion of Thursday evening dinner conversation topics

Michael Orr

Michael Orr

9:00 a.m. - Presentation - The Liberal Arts College Financial Model

Presenter: Michael T. Orr, Krebs Provost and Dean of the Faculty, Lake Forest College

10:00 a.m. - Break

David Wheaton

David Wheaton

10:15 a.m. - Presentation - Financial Challenges for the Future

Presenter: David Wheaton, Vice President for Administration and Finance, Macalester College

11:15 a.m. - Liberal Arts College Scenarios

Presenters: David Wheaton and Michael Orr

1:00 p.m. - Lunch

2:00 p.m. - 2nd Breakout GroupApplication of New Financial Insights to Case Studies re Liberal Arts College Operations

Resource: Case Study Handout

Goal: Provide faculty participants an opportunity to apply strategic financial planning knowledge to operational decisions/issues that liberal arts colleges face. Create scenarios that reveal the complexity of financial planning and how decisions about one challenge can create unintended financial challenges elsewhere in the college’s business model. 

Approach: In same small groups, faculty will consider the following operational case studies and accompanying discussion questions.

Alpha College Case Studies:
• A suggestion to grow student enrollments by 5% year-over-year for 3 years as a strategy to address and stabilize annual budget deficits.
• A suggestion to borrow $5M at prevailing interest rates to help fund the construction of a new library/academic commons that will better support teaching and learning and possibly enhance student recruitment efforts.
• A suggestion to enhance socio-economic diversity among the student population as a strategy to ensure that the educational experience reflects and acknowledges emerging student demographics.

Discussion Questions:
• What is the full range of financial and non-financial issues/considerations that such a decision raises?
• Of the financial issues, which are operational in nature – i.e., addressed by the annual operating budget? Which issues present questions related to capital expenditures? Which issues create recurring expenses? One-time expenses?
• What additional information will you need to make a recommendation to the administration?
• Thinking back on what you just learned during the Wheaton/Orr presentations:
• How sustainable is the approach that Docking describes?
• What, if any, are the constraints of Adrian’s Enrollment Growth approach?
• What other outcomes and/or parameters, not explicitly described by Docking, might need to be in place for Adrian's approach articulated to work over the long run?

3:00 p.m. - Plenary Session to Debrief on Breakout Group Discussions

3:30 p.m. - Break

3:45 p.m. - 3rd Breakout GroupCampus-Based Group Work on College-Specific Questions

Resource: College-specific data from pre-institute homework assignment

Goal: College-based teams apply concepts learned to contribute, through shared governance structures on their campuses, to the varied financial/economic circumstances that their institutions face.

Approach: Campus-based work groups discuss the following questions in the context of college-specific data (via homework assignment) and then report back to the group.
• What are the real-life decisions and choice sets about financial and budget priorities that the president and faculty at your institution will need to address?
• What information would you need to thoughtfully contribute to the conversations about these issues?
• How do you see what you learned at the ICF helping to address the highest priority choices and real-world decisions on your campus?
• Where in the decision-making process on your campus might this new knowledge about the economics of small, residential colleges be useful and how might you ensure that this information becomes part of that process?

4:45 p.m. - Conclusion