Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Sweet Briar’s Demise Puts New Pressure on College Trustees

The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 5th, 2015


Before I came on the board," says Lee D. Ardell, a trustee at Austin College, "I thought, It can’t be that hard."
She soon realized her mistake.
Although she’s a 1974 graduate of Austin, in Sherman, Tex., Ms. Ardell found she knew little about the nuts and bolts of the 1,300-student college’s operations. "You think there’s a formula — if we have so many students and charge this much and discount this much and raise this much. But it’s such a complicated picture for a small college, and you work on such small margins."
Now, as chair of the board’s financial-health committee, she’s acutely aware of those margins. She keeps a close watch on the latest numbers from the college’s admissions office, because if accepted students’ deposits don’t match expectations, her committee will have to consider adjustments in next year’s budget. "With what happened to Sweet Briar," she says, "you’re really trying to know as much as you can."


Before I came on the board," says Lee D. Ardell, a trustee at Austin College, "I thought, It can’t be that hard."
She soon realized her mistake.
Although she’s a 1974 graduate of Austin, in Sherman, Tex., Ms. Ardell found she knew little about the nuts and bolts of the 1,300-student college’s operations. "You think there’s a formula — if we have so many students and charge this much and discount this much and raise this much. But it’s such a complicated picture for a small college, and you work on such small margins."
Now, as chair of the board’s financial-health committee, she’s acutely aware of those margins. She keeps a close watch on the latest numbers from the college’s admissions office, because if accepted students’ deposits don’t match expectations, her committee will have to consider adjustments in next year’s budget. "With what happened to Sweet Briar," she says, "you’re really trying to know as much as you can."
- See more at: http://chronicle.com/article/Sweet-Briar-s-Demise-Puts/229877/#sthash.uqzsrL1z.dpuf

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