Budget Management

General Management

Budget management is a tricky balance between using resources to maximal effect (money in the bank is not working for you) and staying within the allocated budget. I have always balanced my budgets, but have also had the mirror challenges of having large budgets to expend effectively, and managing substantial cuts.

At Radford and FHSU, I was responsible for the Academic Affairs budgets, both of which exceeded $65 million annually.  The vast majority of these budgets were expended on salaries and thus non-flexible.  At Stony Brook I managed the $7.5 million annual budget of the Teaching Learning & Technology division, the majority of which was discretionary in nature.  When I assumed the position there was a positive balance of $3 million dollars in the account which had been generated by an annual fee that should have been expended for its purpose each year. I was charged with spending this down - a pleasant task but challenging to do so in a responsible and effective way. 

Budgeting in my division was very complex at Stony Brook, as revenue came from the general fund, student fees, and from service charges, each of which had a unique set of management rules.  The University system was not up to this task and I was charged with chairing a taskforce to select a new system, a task from which I learned a great deal about the process.  In addition, I was also running my own business at the time and taught myself to run Peachtree accounting software, and manage payroll and tax returns.

I am experienced at planning new budgets having developed the initial 3 year multi-million dollar budget for the Creighton online pharmacy program.   I also developed and managed the $750,000 yearly budget associated with the Creighton student laptop program. This involved negotiating the purchase and lease, budgeting for support, self insurance, maintenance and replacement costs. 

Managing for Growth

Funding new initiatives in an institution that is growing is relatively easy as new revenue is uncommitted and can be allocated to these projects.  In situations where there is no new revenue, or revenue is declining, funding must be found by reallocation of existing resources.  The most challenging and expensive aspect of this is personnel reallocation.  For example, at FHSU I developed a risk and growth rate based model using key metrics from each department, which was used to determine allocation of new lines, and shifting of existing lines from declining or phased out programs.

For an organization to adapt and grow, an entrepreneurial culture should be established.  Budgeting and financial incentives must be managed at, and benefit the local unit level to empower this. For example, at FHSU we implemented a student credit hour based financial return to the departments that developed new online programs.  This was partially responsible for the significant growth in this area. I have also been investigating responsibility centered budget management as a mechanism to increase entrepreneurship. This freedom and flexibility brings with it the need to define clear expectations, use data to make decisions, and define metrics to determine success.

Managing Budget Cuts

During my time at Stony Brook, New York State budget cuts amounted to nearly 25%,  While Provost at Fort Hays State, State appropriations were cut by three percent annually.  As a result I have had to cut services, freeze positions, and reallocate resources.

Performance-Based Funding

The State of Kansas established a performance based system for funding of Higher Education in 2014. FHSU exceeded its annual goals and was awarded complete funding in each year that I served as Provost.