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Strategic Planning
9/25/2015 12:00 AM
Does your institution allocate resources in a way that encourages student achievement and that is fiscally sound? The first step to answering that question is to calculate the revenue each program generates.

CHICAGO — Does your institution allocate resources in a way that encourages student achievement and that is fiscally sound? The first step to answering that question is to calculate the revenue each program generates.

In a recent session hosted by the annual convention for the Society for College and University Planning, James Liszka, Ph.D., provost and vice president of academic affairs; and Robert Karp, Ph.D., director of institutional effectiveness, from the State University of New York in Plattsburgh discussed the challenges and financial benefits their university saw after they undertook a cost-effective-based program planning operation on campus, using student transcripts and data to calculate how much money each campus program generated. The campus was facing declining enrollment, a lack of resources to develop new programs that might bring in students due to budget cuts and inefficient usage of current resources, and a campus curriculum that was not always well-aligned with student needs and demands. Using the Delaware Study of Instructional Costs and Productivity, as well as a “catalog method” developed by Nate Johnson, associate director of institutional planning and research at the University of Florida, officials at SUNY Plattsburgh were able to determine how to best utilize financial resources to support their most valuable departments and programs on campus.

SUNY Plattsburgh is one of SUNY’s 64 campuses. Plattsburgh serves 5,900 students, houses 34 buildings on campus, and offers 60 programs for undergraduate and graduate study. Liszka said that before implementing their cost-effective program planning measurements, it was difficult to determine exactly who was teaching what to whom and at what cost for the university. “We didn’t have a very good measurement tool for determining internal and external data on faculty teaching loads and instructional costs,” Liszka explained. After undertaking their program project, Liszka and Karp were able to map out exactly how much each credit hour for each student, both graduate and undergraduate, was costing SUNY Plattsburgh.

Determine how to measure your campus

Liszka and Karp defined cost-effectiveness as “based on direct institutional cost, not the full cost of the academic programs” and further defined direct institutional costs as “those costs, such as faculty salaries, benefits and costs other than personnel costs, directly tied to a program or department’s operating budget.” Liszka and Karp used four measures to determine the cost-effectiveness of each campus program:

  • Cost per student credit hour. This serves as an index of efficiency for delivery of instruction, and serves as an equalizer between large and small programs.
  • Cost per student credit hour as benchmarked by the Delaware Study. This provides a baseline to determine whether SUNY Plattsburgh’s programs were in line with national peer averages.
  • Annual net tuition revenue. This determines the net tuition revenue generated through the department or program offerings only.
  • Net revenue based on the cost of degree delivery. This calculates the net revenue generated in offering the entire degree program, including general education, cognate requirements and electives.

However, Liszka and Karp also endeavored to determine program cost and future planning with an eye toward maintaining university strengths and mission — the programs that were found to be not as relatively cost-effective were not necessarily cut or reduced just because of their bottom line. “If you’re just basing [program planning] on cost-effectiveness, you’re going to run into trouble,” Karp said. “We also wanted to emphasize that this is not just cutting costs — this is working to make sure we are allocating resources to the right places.”

Create department profiles to establish baseline and review yearly

First, Liszka and Karp created academic department profiles for each department on campus. These profiles serve four main purposes:

  • They provide key data to measure resource needs, particularly faculty positions.
  • They provide data to measure academic program performance, including cost-effectiveness.
  • They provide transparency for performance evaluations and any resource decisions made.
  • They help to change the culture of the institution toward data-driven decision-making.

These academic profiles include information on how each department figures into the institution’s mission, applications to the department and enrollment in the department, the student demographics, majors offered within the department, degrees awarded each year, recommendations from program accreditation and review, tables indicating the faculty-to-student ratio, and tables on instructional cost and effectiveness. Liszka and Karp also culled student credit hour information from student transcripts for several years for each program, breaking out lower-division, upper-division and graduate credit hours completed within the department. The academic department profiles also noted what support each department lends to other departments on campus and to general education credits.

These profiles are updated yearly and circulated to each department chair for review and edits. Liszka and Karp recommended that these profiles be kept confidential within the university to discourage competition between department programs, although that’s a decision that can be made on a campus-by-campus basis. Using these data and comparing credit hours, students enrolled, and full-time faculty and adjunct instructors, Liszka and Karp were able to determine a cost per student credit hour for SUNY Plattsburgh, which they then compared to the Delaware Study numbers for reference to a national peer average.

Liszka and Karp noted that the information from the academic department profiles is used “primarily for purposes of resource allocation” and included a chart showing what each data type meant in terms of performance and in terms of resources needed. For example, the number of majors offered in each department demonstrates what the student demand is for that department. Growth in that area can trigger new faculty resource allocation if needed.

Calculate cost-effectiveness using student credit hours

Liszka and Karp wrote that calculating “cost per student credit hour is an index of efficiency in delivery of instruction and is an equalizer between small and large programs.” However, even this benchmark might favor larger departments over smaller departments because the calculation comes from the number of student credit hours produced. To neutralize this, Liszka and Karp suggested going one step further with the academic department profiles and calculating the net tuition revenue per student.

According to Liszka and Karp, the easiest way to calculate cost per student credit hour is to use the Delaware Study. A campus can participate in that for somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000. More information about participating in the Delaware Study can be found at

However, Liszka and Karp also provided guidelines for calculating student credit hours if participating in the Delaware Study is not a suitable solution for your campus. To calculate your campus student credit hours on your own, you will need to:

1. Calculate student credit hours produced by degree program or department for a year. Depending on your campus needs, this may involve breaking down hours by undergraduate and graduate or by upper- and lower-division classes.

2. Add together all the direct instructional costs for the department for a year, as defined by the Delaware Study in this link:

3. Divide the direct instructional costs by the student credit hours. This provides the cost per credit hour.

4. To calculate the annual net tuition revenue of a program, determine total tuition actuals per category (undergraduate, graduate, lower and upper divisions). This is the gross revenue.
Subtract the direct costs of instruction (s
ee step 2) to determine the net annual tuition revenue.

5. To determine the net revenue per credit hour, divide the gross revenue (see step 4) by the total number of credit hours (see step 1). The figure that results is the gross revenue per credit hour. Subtract the cost per credit hour (see step 3) to determine the net revenue per credit hour.

6. To determine the net tuition revenue generated by a four-year degree for each program, Liszka and Karp using the Excel steps below. The calculations assume that the average student in each program enrolls with no transfer hours, completes his general education requirements by his junior year, and completes his degree in four years,

  • Create a table that culminates in formula cell E, total degree cost, the summation of the following cells:
    • Cell A: general education costs.
    • Cell B: department requirement costs.
    • Cell C: cognate requirement costs.
    • Cell D: elective costs.
  • Next, create formula cell G, which is the net four-year revenue per student, by subtracting cell E from cell F, the four-year tuition revenue.
  • Formula cell I is the net revenue for a four-year degree program, which is found by multiplying cell G (net four-year revenue per student) by cell H, the average number of majors within a department.

With these tables in hand for each department, Liszka and Karp were able to determine the cost-effectiveness of each program, benchmarking against the Delaware Study, and determining how best to allocate resources across campus.

You can contact James Liszka and Robert Karp at and  

Community Colleges
8/26/2015 12:00 AM

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS — When Barack Obama unveiled his bill for America’s College Promise in January 2015, one of the models upon which the proposal was based came from the example set by the Tennessee Board of Regents, a collection of 13 community colleges and six four-year universities. Recognizing that by 2020, 65 percent of jobs in the United States will require some level of postsecondary education, Tennessee passed the Complete College Tennessee Act in 2010.

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS — When Barack Obama unveiled his bill for America’s College Promise in January 2015, one of the models upon which the proposal was based came from the example set by the Tennessee Board of Regents, a collection of 13 community colleges and six four-year universities. Recognizing that by 2020, 65 percent of jobs in the United States will require some level of postsecondary education, Tennessee passed the Complete College Tennessee Act in 2010.

The CCTA, also known as the Drive to 55, looks to ensure that 55 percent of Tennessee’s population will have a college degree or certification by 2025. One of the key implementation aspects of this plan has been to provide two years of free education via the Tennessee Promise scholarship at either a Tennessee Board of Regents–affiliated community college or at a Tennessee Applied College of Technology. The CCTA, which acknowledges the tension between the need for a more highly skilled Tennessean population while also dealing with less funding for higher education, shifts the focus of educational funding to performance-based outcomes and leveraging a new state funding formula. This funding is based on the principle that investing in a better-educated workforce will ultimately lead to economic gains for the state.

“IQ is not distributed according to income,” said Anthony Wise, president of Pellissippi State Community College and one of the major forces behind the Tennessee Drive to 55 movement. “Education means a better life.” Wise spoke at the American Association of Community Colleges annual convention. The Tennessee Promise, the scholarship that grants free tuition, is available to students who graduate from high school starting this year. To be eligible for the scholarships, students must meet the necessary requirements, including FAFSA completion, GPA maintenance, attendance at a community mentoring program, and community service each semester.

The free tuition component of the CCTA has garnered the most national attention of any of its provisions. But Tennessee has already achieved great success from its initiatives. In the five years since the CCTA went into effect, the community colleges affiliated with the Tennessee Board of Regents have nearly doubled their completion rates, moving from 669 degrees granted in 2009 (out of approximately 10,000 students) to 1,286 degrees granted in 2014 (out of also approximately 10,000 students).

So what are some of the key factors that contribute to Tennessee’s success? Wise explained that officials at the Board of Regents community colleges:

  1. Implemented five-year DACUM curriculum evaluations. One of the immediate considerations for the Tennessee Board of Regents was to ensure that quality was not sacrificed to increase the number of students receiving degrees. Standardized learning outcomes were developed for all colleges during a two-day intensive on Developing a Curriculum, a process that designs curricula based on skills needed for the job markets represented by each major or concentration. Each concentration or major offered at a community college was required to undergo this DACUM training and adjust its curriculum accordingly. Finally, Tennessee has pledged to continue this DACUM training on a five-year review schedule to ensure that all skills and learning outcomes are up-to-date and applicable.
  2. Required FAFSA completion. To be eligible for the Tennessee Promise scholarship, students must complete the FAFSA. In 2014, the FAFSA completion rate in Tennessee was 62 percent, up a full 18 percent from the year before and nearly 20 percent higher than the next highest state completion rate. Indeed, the next highest growth rate for FAFSA completion for any state was 2 percent.
  3. Shifted focus from enrollment rates to completion rates. While enrollment and completion rates necessarily go hand-in-hand, the Tennessee Board of Regents focuses primarily on what it can do to retain students through graduation. Focusing on community factors, such as ensuring that students who begin their associate degree at an urban campus location are able to finish out their degree at an urban campus location, helped increase retention rates. Ensuring appropriate funding for “wrap-around services” that guide nontraditional-aged students or first-generation college students through the admission, registration and enrollment processes also improved retention. These wrap-around services help reduce the transaction barrier some students face with enrollment and/or graduation forms.
  4. Focused on the community impact. A key aspect to Tennessee’s success that is not yet reflected in America’s College Promise is community engagement for both students and community members alike. Tennessee Promise students are required to receive mentoring from a member of the community, as well as provide at least one day of community service for each semester they benefit from the scholarship. Engaging local community members in the Tennessee Promise scholarship helps the community see the ongoing benefits of the CCTA.
  5. Created a pathway of guaranteed admission to university. One of the major incentives for students with the scholarship, besides the promise of free education, is the premium consideration students who complete their associate degree receive for transferring to a four-year university. The University of Tennessee at Knoxville even offers a partnership for success geared to help students complete the associate degree and transition smoothly into the four-year system. College Promise scholarship students who transfer from a community college to a four-year university must maintain an average GPA of 3.2.
  6. Supported learners with appropriate technology. In the Strategies for Teaching Excellence Program employed by several of the Tennessee community colleges, iPads were made available for individual student use while in the classroom. This led to a 50 percent improvement in student grades for STEM classes such as chemistry. Incorporating the use and practice of appropriate technology in the classroom helps to develop the skill sets students might need for future employment opportunities as well.
  7. Engaged adult learners by designing for-credit credentials for employees. The Tennessee Board of Regents has partnered with such organizations as Denso, Keurig and Newell Rubbermaid to develop for-credit certifications for current and prospective employees. These certification programs currently have a 94 percent job placement rate for graduates. By partnering with companies, Tennessee is able to develop curricula that specifically supply prospective employees with the skill sets necessary for career success. For adult learners looking to advance their career, these certifications nearly guarantee future employment opportunities.
Policies & Procedures
7/27/2015 12:00 AM

Under 34 CFR 600.9, all institutions of higher education that seek to recruit and enroll students in states other than those where they are chartered and licensed (their “home states”) must apply — and sometimes annually — for authorization to up to 77 agencies, a number that includes 50 states, nine territories, and the District of Columbia. Sixteen of these states require out-of-state IHEs to register with other offices, like commerce or state departments, and to function as registered foreign agents.

Under 34 CFR 600.9, all institutions of higher education that seek to recruit and enroll students in states other than those where they are chartered and licensed (their “home states”) must apply — and sometimes annually — for authorization to up to 77 agencies, a number that includes 50 states, nine territories, and the District of Columbia. Sixteen of these states require out-of-state IHEs to register with other offices, like commerce or state departments, and to function as registered foreign agents.

The application process and fees are a significant burden for institutions. To further confuse matters, there are some states where online institutions are subject to different regulations and fees than those adjudged to be “physically present,” while others offer blanket exemptions based upon regional accreditation and longevity of business operations.

Readying for State Authorization: A Toolkit

Here are some field-tested tips for approaching state authorization compliance:

  1. Define your online enrollment reach.
  2. Use market studies to determine where you should market and enroll online learners. Keep in mind that the costs of pursuing authorization in some states may outweigh the benefits.

  3. Study “physical presence” and recruiting triggers for your target states.
  4. Some state educational agencies have low regulatory thresholds for defining “physical presence.” Russ Poulin, deputy director of research and analysis for the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education Cooperative for Educational Technologies and its State Authorization Network, says: “We normally think of physical presence as having a building in the state, but it goes beyond that to any activity you might do in the state.” Poulin notes, too, that this isn’t just about distance education: “Authorization is institutionwide, so any activity (even if not related to distance education) must be tracked.” With this in mind, note that “physical presence” of many kinds is enough to require an out-of-state IHE to obtain full authorization to operate in those states. In Georgia, for example, cold-calling prospective students is enough to be considered physically present in that state — but an invitation to an in-state college fair is not. Tennessee, Kentucky and Texas have similar regulations. Always check before you recruit!

  5. Calculate costs.
  6. Some SEAs may charge your institution $5,000 to $10,000 annually to operate in their states. In other cases, you need to contract with and pay a registered agent in addition to receiving approval from the SEA. Is it worth the time as well as the associated costs?

  7. Review your tuition refund policy.
  8. Several states regulate how tuition monies are to be refunded when students withdraw from a program or institution. Some state refund policies are more flexible, and generous, than home state or institutional policies and should be calculated into the overall cost of doing business. Iowa, Oregon, Arkansas and Maryland, among others, require out-of-state IHEs applying to enroll students to abide by their refund policies.

  9. Identify your on-campus state authorization liaison.
  10. Even if your institution offers limited online programs across state lines, you must still identify a point person for state authorization. Ideally this person should report to the chief academic officer (in the event that the officer is not the CAO). Your institution’s state authorization officer should keep apprised of regulatory developments by regularly checking the State Higher Education Executive Officers website, reviewing updates from EDUCAUSE and the WICHE-WCET State Authorization Network, and scanning state legislative bulletins for updates on state-level regulations affecting out-of-state IHEs.

  11. Organize your documentation.
  12. Make certain that copies of the following baseline documents are available, with the understanding that evidentiary requirements will differ from state to state: (a) the IHE’s letter of authority or charter from the SEA in its home state; (b) a copy of your most recent statement of accreditation or letter of reaffirmation of accreditation from your regional accreditor; (c) a copy of the institution’s most recent audited financial statement; (d) the OPE ID Code for your college or university; (e) your institution’s Carnegie classification by size and type; (f) evidence of ongoing accreditation by specialized accreditors for any degree programs that require such; and (g) a copy of your refund policy. Some states, like Montana, also require the institution’s federal Title IV Financial Responsibility Composite Score (on a scale of 0.00 to 3.00).

  13. Involve your director of institutional research.
  14. Some states have begun collecting outcomes data on resident students who enroll in out-of-state IHE distance learning programs. Engage your director of institutional research to make certain that she is kept updated on state-level reporting expectations. The Maryland Higher Education Commission, for example, collects annual enrollment, retention and graduation data on Maryland residents who enroll in distance learning or face-to-face programs offered by non-Maryland IHEs.

  15. Contact state educational and other agencies.
  16. After taking the steps outlined above, and achieving some level of clarity about the states where you will recruit and enroll students, you should begin the process of contacting appropriate state agencies. SHEEO maintains a regularly updated survey of state agencies and lead contacts for purposes of making application for state authorization: Contact the appropriate higher education and department authorities (the latter as required by individual state laws) for the states where you intend to enroll online learners. Write to the state officer who is responsible for the review and approval of out-of-state applications, or go to the state portal. When writing to state officers, be specific. “And it’s not just writing with open-ended questions,” says Poulin. “You should have reviewed what you can find regarding their regulations well enough that you can ask specific questions. If you ask very general questions, you might not get a response at all, or you may be told to ‘read the regulations.’” Several states will grant authorization exemptions to institutions that meet certain criteria, among them regional accreditation by an agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and longevity (e.g., the institution has been chartered and operating without interruption for 10 or 20 years). However, this might change when new U.S. Department of Education rules are published. The U.S. Department of Education has suggested that it might deny states the right to grant future exemptions, which means that all states might be required by federal law to enact proactive authorization procedures for out-of-state IHEs.

  17. File business paperwork and engage registered agents, where necessary.
  18. In some states, like North Carolina and Alabama, an educational institution that seeks to recruit and enroll students is also regarded as a business entity and must submit the appropriate registered agent paperwork and fees. Some states require out-of-state IHEs to maintain registered foreign agents for purposes of delivering legal paperwork and subpoenas on state soil, in fulfillment of consumer protection and other business laws. This can be costly, but there are a number of national companies that can provide these services at reduced cost. Such companies are vetted, appropriately bonded and insured.

  19. Review and disclose your student complaint processes.
  20. Under 34 CFR 668.43, all institutions of higher education that qualify to receive federal funds under Title IV must publicly disclose information about student complaint processes on their websites, and for all prospective students, not just online learners. Regular updates to 34 CFR 668.43 appear in the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations ( A complete checklist of the student complaint process is available on the Wiley Dean & Provost webpage at

    The ED requires institutions offering degree programs, and not just via distance education, to provide all enrolled and prospective students with contact information for filing complaints with regional accrediting agencies and the appropriate state agency in the state where the student is receiving instruction (34 CFR 668.43(b)). An updated list of relevant SEAs and related agencies can be found on the SHEEO website.

  21. Disclose enrollment and non-enrollment states and territories.
  22. The institution should provide a regularly updated list of all states and territories where it will and will not enroll students. If an institution enrolls students who reside in another state but does not seek authorization in that state, then the IHE may be held liable by the federal government for misrepresentation.

  23. Disclose your institution’s compliance with out-of-state pre-licensure requirements.
  24. If you are offering online nursing, education or other professional pre-licensure degree programs to students in other states, it is critical to disclose whether or not your programs meet the professional licensure requirements in those states where potential or current students reside. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing maintains a state-by-state database that details pre-licensure requirements across the country ( Keep in mind that state requirements in professional pre-licensure programs differ from state to state and that these requirements are separate from state authorization requirements — although they are integrally linked. Some SEAs will not authorize a degree program until the state-level professional board approves the program. Clinical experiences and externships may trigger the need for state authorization. Likewise, some states will not accept initial licensure from another state. Some states require national-level programmatic accreditation for program approval (e.g., from CAEP, formerly TEAC and NCATE for teacher preparation).

Lawsuits and Rulings
8/13/2013 12:00 AM

30+ years of law practice are no substitute for scholarship

Case name: Spaeth v. Georgetown University, No. 11-1376 (ESH) (D.D.C. 05/09/13).

Ruling: The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted summary judgment to Georgetown University, dismissing the plaintiff’s age discrimination claims.

Case name: Spaeth v. Georgetown University, No. 11-1376 (ESH) (D.D.C. 05/09/13).

Ruling: The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted summary judgment to Georgetown University, dismissing the plaintiff’s age discrimination claims.

What it means: When a plaintiff claims he was not interviewed for a college or university position because of his age, it’s not sufficient to show that the individuals interviewed and hired were younger than he was. He must also show that he had all the qualifications necessary to obtain a tenure-track position.

Summary: Nicholas Spaeth — born in 1950 — attended Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship. He graduated from Stanford Law School in 1977 after serving as a law review editor.

Following law school, he served as North Dakota state attorney general for seven years, as general counsel to several Fortune 500 companies, and as a lawyer in private practice. He also taught constitutional law as an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota Law School from 1980 through 1983.

In 2009, he decided to pursue an academic career. Ultimately, he obtained a non-tenure-track position as a visiting professor of law at the University of Missouri at Columbia for the 2010-2011 school year.

In 2010, Spaeth submitted a resume to an online resume system in which 172 law schools participated because his visiting professor position was only a one-year appointment.

He also wrote to several law schools directly to indicate his interest in being considered for a position.

He did not write directly to Georgetown University because he didn’t think that he wanted to live in Washington, D.C.

Spaeth was invited to preliminary interviews by only two schools and received no job offers.

He then filed a suit against Georgetown, claiming that its failure to interview and hire him violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act because it ultimately hired three less-qualified candidates who were approximately 25 years younger.

Georgetown filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Spaeth’s online résumé did not reveal any interest or experience in producing the kind of original legal research and scholarship that Georgetown and other top-tier law schools required.

Spaeth countered that Georgetown had no written requirement that scholarship weighed heavily — or outweighed — teaching and service.

However, District Judge Ellen Huvelle said that the lack of a written requirement was irrelevant. She said there was no need to put in writing what everyone knew: that scholarship was — for better or worse — one of the overriding concerns among elite law schools in making hiring decisions.

She recognized that Spaeth strongly felt that law students should be taught by practitioners instead of academics. However, she said that he could not dispute that scholarship was indeed a primary focus of law schools when hiring faculty members, and she refused to interfere with the university’s priorities.

Judge Huvelle found that Spaeth did not demonstrate the necessary qualifications for an entry-level tenure-track position at Georgetown because he had no record of scholarly work and had not shown a potential for producing such work in the future.

She granted summary judgment in favor of the university.


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  • Meet the Editor

    Joan Hope
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    Joan Hope became editor of Dean & Provost in 2007. She brings years of experience in higher education and journalism to her work. She has taught writing and literature courses for eight years at colleges and universities including Indiana University at Bloomington, Clark University, and Houston Community College
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