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Where planning comes together. T​he power of SCUP is its community. We learn from one another, sharing how we’ve achieved success and, maybe more importantly, what we’ve learned from failure. SCUP authors, produces, and curates thousands of resources to help you prepare for the future, overcome challenges, and bring planning together at your college or university.

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Published
December 2, 2020

Book Review: How University Budgets Work

This book serves as a primer for establishing a baseline by which academic leaders can participate in conversations regarding finances at their institutions.

From Volume 49 Number 1 | October–December 2020

Abstract: by Dean O. Smith
Johns Hopkins University Press
Baltimore, MD
2019
200 Pages
ISBN 9781421432762

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Published
July 17, 2020

Academic Deans Reveal Their Leadership Styles

Annual Budgeting Becomes an Exercise in How Authority is Enacted

Academic deans adopt one of three approaches when developing the annual budget report for their colleges: distributed authorship, delegated authorship, or dominated authorship. Depending on the approach they select, deans can include and collaborate with their senior teams—or exclude, ignore, and alienate them. Their choice demonstrates how they lead.

From Volume 48 Number 4 | July–September 2020

Abstract: Few studies have investigated how academic deans enact their authority in Responsibility Center Budgeting (RCB), despite its widespread adoption. In this article I explore findings from a study that investigated how deans crafted a confidential annual budget report at an American university. Ultimately, deans adopted one of three approaches to crafting the report: delegating, distributing, or dominating authorship. Deans who distributed authorship collaborated with their senior teams to establish a shared sense of priorities for their colleges. In contrast deans who delegated and dominated authorship ignored and alienated members of their senior team during the budget review, engendering confusion and frustration.

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Published
March 5, 2020

A Guide for Optimizing Resource Allocation

Link Assessment, Strategic Planning, and Budgeting to Achieve Institutional Effectiveness

By connecting assessment, strategic planning, and budgeting processes, the real needs and priorities of an institution are revealed. Colleges and universities can adapt the provided, step-by-step framework to their own institutional structure and methods.

From Volume 48 Number 2 | January–March 2020

Abstract: The article presents a framework for integrating assessment, strategic planning, and resource allocation at all levels of an institution. For that purpose, data are collected from academic departments and non-academic units. They are then integrated with strategic planning metrics into an assessment report that identifies the resources that need to be allocated, and to evaluate progress toward developing a strategic plan. The framework can be applied at the departmental or unit level, as well as at the institutional level. It provides valuable input for the budget process and can be used for updates in strategic planning.

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Planning at Mesa Community College

Integrated and Informed for Our Improvement

Within the span of a year, it’s possible to make significant progress toward achieving and institutionalizing integrated planning and budgeting.

From Volume 45 Number 3 | April–June 2017

Abstract: In an era of heightened accreditation expectations, declining resources, and increasing competition, tools such as integrated planning and budgeting, evidence-based decision-making (EBDM) processes, an overarching continuous quality improvement (CQI) framework, and up-to-date technology solutions for managing planning processes are no longer optional. While Mesa Community College (MCC) has a long history of planning, the integration of planning and budgeting was limited and our planning system was outdated (as in beyond end-of-life outdated). Additionally, planning and budgeting processes lacked EBDM practices and an overarching CQI framework. MCC’s Strategic Planning Committee set about remedying all of these issues and did so within the span of a year.

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Organizing Financial Information to Support University Planning and Analysis

Before investing in complex and costly new technologies, first consider whether your institution would benefit from a redesigned chart of accounts.

From Volume 45 Number 3 | April–June 2017

Abstract: As colleges and universities plan efforts to improve financial reporting and analysis, which often entail making costly investments in new systems and tools, they should first evaluate whether to redesign the institution’s chart of accounts. The chart of accounts is the DNA of financial reports and is used to track financial activity across the institution. This article proposes a planning, evaluation, and design process for a new chart of accounts and identifies key considerations for leaders undertaking this effort.

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No-Brainer or Brain-Twister?

Linking Planning and Budgeting

While there is no one right way to link planning and budgeting, there is good practice: what works to influence behavior in the direction of institutional goals, supported by strong leadership.

From Volume 45 Number 3 | April–June 2017

Abstract: This article presents a range of approaches for linking budgeting to planning. After briefly discussing the natures of planning and budgeting, it presents four conceptual categories of ways to link the two. The article defines these as structural, adaptive-incremental, devolved, and holistic/advanced. No one approach will be correct for all institutions. Even where there is a system in place to link planning and budgeting, this is unlikely to be enough unless there is firm, skilled, aligned, and distributed leadership to keep the system on track toward institutional goals.

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Responsibility Center Budgeting and Management “Lite” in University Finance

Why Is RCB/RCM Never Fully Deployed?

Despite its promise of revenue generation, cost reduction, and a host of other benefits, what is it about RCB/RCM that leads universities to deploy it only partially?

From Volume 45 Number 3 | April–June 2017

Abstract: After its first application nearly 40 years ago, responsibility center budgeting/responsibility center management (RCB/RCM) is now in place at nearly 70 major North American universities. An unstudied fact is that despite its popularity RCB/RCM is rarely deployed to its fullest extent. Instead, it usually exists in parallel with conventional planning and budget models. This study asks why, instead of fully implementing RCB/RCM, universities have chosen to apply it partially. The study finds multiple explanations. On the revenue side, some universities hold back a portion of income to create funds that are used to underwrite institution-wide strategies or subsidize mission-central academic programs that cannot be fiscally sustained under RCB/RCM. In other cases, revenue is held back to fund shared “public utility” services, while in still others the practice of holding back revenue for allocation by some other means is due to difficulty in drawing a functional line between the “academic” and the “non-academic.” On the cost side, some universities have limited the application of RCB/RCM in order to limit market behavior and forestall “fragmentation” (Burke 2007). The study points to several problems in both the practice and theory of RCB/RCM. For example, models meant in theory to complement RCB/RCM may in practice compete with it or promote monopolistic behavior.

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