What I Wish I Knew before Becoming a Christian Higher Ed CFO

Experienced members of ABACC were asked the question, "What do you wish you had known when you started in the Christian Higher Education industry?"

Technical Issues

  • More accounting and legal understanding.
  • Accurately forecasting the budget based on expected student enrollment.
  • Use, regulations, and policies regarding restricted and unrestricted funds.
  • Various ways college donations are classified, used and reported.
  • Reporting of annual pledges.
  • Legal requirements involved in operating an educational non-profit.
  • Better understanding of the implications of the Americans with Disabilities Act and how it affects the educational process.
  • Benchmarking, financial ratios, and financial analysis.
  • Benefits of comparing benchmarks to reference schools.
  • Understanding, integrating and adhering to the various reporting and filing requirements for governmental reporting, accreditation reporting, association reporting, etc.
  • How to balance tuition pricing and tuition discounting to maximize net tuition revenue.
  • Tax laws, minister’s housing allowances.
  • Fund accounting and financial statements as they relate to private higher education.
  • Accrediting commissions and how they (really) operate.
  • The Department of Education and how they (really) operate.
  • Federal regulations and compliance issues.

Christian Environment Issues

  • How to be a more effective CHRISTIAN administrator and leader in a Christian organization.
  • Limitations of partnering with the for-profit business sector.
  • How much longer it takes to make decisions in a “shared governance” model.
  • The long hours with a different pay scale from the for-profit world and how to level that field.
  • How to handle the stress of the position, compounded by a passion for the ministry and the work required.
  • How to not become identified by your title, but by your place before God.
  • Why and how Christian Higher Education is different from for-profit business.
  • The importance of praying for and with colleagues and staff.
  • The keen awareness that God has placed me in my position to serve others.

Leadership & Management Issues

  • How best to convey information to the Board of Trustees, some of whom are number-oriented and some who aren’t.
  • Understanding the politics of the higher education community.
  • Understanding the faculty mindset; working with faculty committees.
  • Tracking down and integrating the primary resources for Christian Higher Education business officers.
  • Differences between administrative roles, opinions, attitudes and mindsets, including the filters through which each administrator views the educational/institutional process.
  • How vastly important it is to have the president’s full confidence and support.
  • Importance of good relationships with other administrators.
  • Effectively communicating the budget, both “up” to the president and board, and “out” to faculty and staff.
  • Importance of quality business/finance recommendations and good communication, especially during difficult financial times.
  • How to allocate time between work, family, prayer & worship.
  • I wish I would've taken advantage of ABACC's mentor program.  It would have been a great resource for me.
  • How to optimize decision-making and efficiency in a committee-driven culture.
  • The breadth of topics that most business officers must be "up" on.