Two ways to engage academic leaders with finances

Chief business officers are increasingly focused on improving financial data communication with campus stakeholders. While boards are often the primary audience of these efforts, academic leaders would also benefit from better financial data communication. Faculty leaders often remain at one institution for decades, so the positive effects of engaging them with financial data—or the downside of excluding them from this information—can be long lasting.

1. Deploying one financial dashboard across multiple audiences

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Academic leaders and board members, however, engage with financial data in different ways. Many university finance executives wonder if they should build a separate dashboard for academics, tailored to their unique needs. However, most institutions have found this approach is not worth the effort. The existence of multiple dashboards creates unnecessary complexity for administrators to maintain and can lead to distrust, as stakeholders perceive different dashboards as providing different accounts of financial health.

2. Supporting academic leaders beyond the dashboard

Fortunately, board-level dashboards can be converted for consumption by academic leaders with minimal adjustments to formatting and deployment. In fact, some business leaders deliberately share their unaltered board-facing dashboards with their colleagues in academic leadership in order to demystify board proceedings and build a culture of trust and transparency.

CBOs should consider the needs of their academic leaders when sharing financial data. The image below offers tried-and-tested solutions to various challenges in engaging academic leaders in institutional finances. For example, to ensure its academic leaders understand financial dashboard data, the University of South Carolina’s Academic Leadership Development Program trains rising academic leaders on institutional finances.

USC

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