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?"
- 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.