Faculty members often have limited visibility into university finances and budget processes. As a result, many campuses suffer from broad disagreement and even mistrust around the financial, operational, and strategic choices that leaders make, slowing progress toward institutional goals.
We studied the most common budget misunderstandings that administrators cite among their faculty members, and uncovered four key lessons to help you give faculty firsthand exposure to institutional financial planning and resource management. Download the white paper to learn how to improve transparency and understanding by providing context and illustrating budget trade-offs, or scroll down to explore each strategy individually.
Share the larger economic pressures behind resource allocation decisions clearly with faculty. Faculty members typically lack a larger perspective through which to view allocation decisions, often leading to misunderstanding and conflict with administrators. Providing both industry-wide and institutional context for budget decisions can help academic leaders build buy-in among faculty. It can also help build trust between faculty and the administration as it demonstrates leadership's dedication to transparency.
Even with an enhanced understanding of the institution's financial circumstances, faculty members won't always fully comprehend the impact that their budget requests will have downstream. Limited increases in salary or faculty lines, for example, can dramatically increase an institution's year-over-year expenses.
Demonstrate to faculty how financial decisions rarely occur without secondary effects and complicating factors through budget scenario explorers or interactive sessions to explain how the close interdependence of financial metrics. Faculty members who grasp trade-offs of strategic decisions are more likely to thoughtfully engage with administrators in considering strategic initiatives.
Moving forward, administrators must not only contextualize budget decisions for faculty, they must also proactively build trust. If institutions are to make substantial changes to their budget and business models, faculty and administrators will need to work together. As it stands, however, most faculty and administrators usually find themselves on opposite sides of resource debates. Embed faculty leaders with senior administrators to build faculty confidence in strategic decision-making.
Giving faculty the perspective to understand and cooperate with strategic administrative decisions is important, but the final imperative for enfranchising the faculty is to build the agency of those faculty leaders and department chairs on the front lines of academic decision making.
By providing active, case-based learning to faculty members in positions to drive cost, administrators can equip their faculty leaders to make smarter decisions and implement strategic priorities with increased precision.
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