What I Learned at Summer Institute 2011

[This post is the first in a series about the 2011 AAUP Summer Institute. The Summer Institute is an annual event designed to enhance “leadership and chapter-building skills through discussion, learning, networking and brainstorming with fellow higher education colleagues from across the nation.” AAUP chapter leaders from around the country meet to discuss events in their states and on their campuses. The sessions cover a variety of topics from “strengthening faculty handbook language to analyzing institutional financial statements, from implementing a comprehensive communications strategy to fighting legislative attacks on higher education.”

This past summer, CCSU-AAUP sent a handful of its leaders to the Institute in Boston. Each individual self-selected the sessions they attended, which resulted in the accumulation of a wide range of new information. In this series, we hope to share with you some of the lessons we learned. This post includes thoughts from Lisa Frank, Associate Professor of Finance and Treasurer for the CCSU-AAUP Executive Committee. She can be reached by email at franklic [at] ccsu [dot] edu. -@drjasonsnyder].

I had the opportunity to attend the AAUP Summer Institute in the beginning of August this year. The Summer Institute is a four-day event with numerous opportunities for an education in the many facets of being an active member of the union. It also presents a terrific opportunity to meet members from other higher education institutions.

This is my second time attending and I am always amazed at how much there is to accomplish in such a short time. The most difficult part of attending is trying to decide which sessions to attend, since there are generally more than one in each time slot that pique my interest.

This year a session I chose to attend was the “Crash course in Institutional Financial Analysis”. There was a broad overview presented on Thursday evening at the opening seminars. Then, two additional sessions were offered over the course of the next two days. In the morning session we spent time reviewing the financial statements of our own institution (in my case CSU), pulling the data from the statements, and entering it into spreadsheets that were designed to present a thorough analysis.

I was fortunate that, due to its popularity, this set of sessions was offered twice. This allowed for smaller groups in the analysis phase of the course, and gave me the ability to move on to deeper analyses of the financials, which in my case included pulling the figures for CCSU. I learned how to find the financial data from the audited financial statements. This data is available either on the CSU system Web site (www.ct.edu), or on the IPEDS (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System) Web site (http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/).

Although I come from a finance background, this course proved very useful to me. It is important that the analysis focus on audited financial statements, not budgets. The financial statements that I had been most familiar with were those of corporations. University and College financial statements are vastly different, and without some guidance, are not always clear. Howard Bunsis and Rudy Fichtenbaum were terrific leaders, helping all of the participants to understand the nuances of analysis, whether they were from public or private institutions. The documentation that we received and the spreadsheets that we worked in not only proved useful for analyzing the financials at the session, but can be used for the same type of analysis when future financial statements are released.

Note. Creative Commons Flickr photo by Nick Ledford

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