After a two-year hiatus, the annual National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) meeting took place under the theme, The Power of Together. The conference was held in beautiful Denver, Colorado, and supported both online and in-person sessions. Members of the HelioCampus team and partners connected with other leaders from across the country—demonstrating our commitment to working together to tackle and solve the complex challenges that lie ahead for higher ed and the students they serve.
NACUBO 2022 provided ample opportunities for attendees to network and interact with one another through sessions and events in the exhibit hall. The opening speaker, Linda Bernardi, shared some fascinating stories on unleashing Artificial Intelligence (AI) to disrupt the status quo and provoke change.
On Monday, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel that included our member institutions, New Mexico State University (NMSU) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison). Dr. Ruth Johnston, Vice Chancellor and Strategic Chief Financial Officer, and Dr. Lauren Goldstein, Organizational Development Specialist in Office of the Chancellor at NMSU along with Paul Seitz, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Salima Currimbhoy, Institutional Policy Analyst II both within the Vice Chancellor’s Office for Finance and Administration at UW-Madison, shared their case studies on how they use data to inform their strategic planning processes.
Both institutions presented on how they were able to combine key benchmarking data with HelioCampus’s Administrative Quality Satisfaction Survey (AQSS) data results to enable more comprehensive decision-making and strategic planning. By first using the benchmarking data to examine staffing, they were then able to determine if this had any impact on the delivery of service. For example, benchmarking data may reveal that an institution’s IT staffing is over the benchmark average. However, if according to survey results the quality and satisfaction of the institution with that service are excellent, the costs are well justified. In addition to using the data and survey to examine IT staffing and satisfaction, NMSU also used the data to help inform their strategic planning process by shaping their priorities and KPIs. Given all the changes over the past few years, the NMSU team also highlighted the need for a satisfaction survey post-COVID to inform change and ultimately improve the student experience. By including and students, faculty, and staff in the survey, they were able to find common pain points highlighted in the qualitative feedback, allowing them to take action. Finally, by sharing the benchmarking and survey data with leadership, they were able to support continuous improvement processes at NMSU, contributing to overall institutional effectiveness. The UW-Madison team tied their survey findings directly to strategic initiatives on campus, like addressing technology/systems, data availability and more, offering evidence of how live data could be used by university stakeholders in real-time. Both institutions plan to run the survey again over the next 1-2 years and re-examine the data to support their institutional quality and growth.
The various sessions that took place throughout NACUBO showcased many of the common problems facing higher education today. They also highlighted the strategies and tools leaders are employing to address them. Ultimately, there were three key takeaways found compelling from this year’s meeting:
Despite the HEERF (Higher Education Emergency Relief Funding), there will continue to be enrollment and revenue concerns for institutions. We could see a vast shift in the way higher education does business over the next 10 years from both a programmatic and administrative level.
Institutions need to realize their goal of taking action: 81% of institutions surveyed reported they had difficulty in acting on their data. However, there are resources available through NACUBO and other firms to help them bridge this gap.
Higher ed institutions are eager to collaborate and learn how to solve problems collectively, which will be needed for future sustainability of the industry.
I am looking forward to discovering more opportunities to put the theme of this meeting into action. By sharing best practices from our consortium members with other higher education institutions, like those presented by New Mexico State University and UW-Madison, we can begin to collectively innovate and solve critical challenges. Data can bring people together. And leveraging data to better understand how you are meeting your mission of serving students, and helping them achieve their academic and career goals, can greatly impact your value proposition for today’s learners and tomorrow’s leaders.