Finances, Facilities, and Administration Furman University

Without money, there is no mission. Without mission, there is no money. Furman needs an inspiring and altruistic articulation of its identity and mission, which will drive admissions and financial contributions. Through a blend of stronger admissions and enrollment management practices and invigorated fundraising, all driven by the appeal of the mission, more resources will be available to reinvest in strategic improvements aligned with the mission.

  • Budgetary strategy

      Furman will change its business model and budgetary practices through the adoption of four new principles and practices involving enrollment management, the creation of a strategic improvement fund, a change in the use of annual fund contributions, and the enhancement of the reserve fund.

      1. Enrollment management strategy

      (a) Enrollment management net revenue targets. Enrollment management practices, involving the management of tuition rates, financial aid discount rates, and student body size, will transition over a five-year period to significantly increase net tuition revenue. This revenue will be divided between contributions to the Reserve Fund and reinvested in strategic quality enhancements through the creation of a new Strategic Improvement Fund.

      (b) New financial aid structures. A more disciplined financial aid system will be implemented in which controls will be put in place to prevent overspending the unfunded financial aid budget (that portion of the financial aid budget not backed by endowment or annual gift resources). Simultaneously, the entire approach to need- based and merit-based financial aid will be revamped through an "award to mission" strategy, so that aid is repurposed and repackaged to the end of attracting a diverse and engaged student body.

      (c) Student body size. One critical variable in the enrollment management picture is the size of the student body. At some universities, a strategic plan may include a hard "target number" for increasing the student body size. But modest upward increases in the size of the student body, accompanied by appropriate commensurate increases in faculty and staff positions (to maintain, for example, the student/faculty ratio at strong levels), will put Furman in a stronger financial position and generate resources that may be reinvested in quality enhancements. There are two critical variables that will need to be tracked as Furman engages in an ongoing effort to arrive at an "optimal" future student body size:

      • The admissions market and application numbers. Perhaps the most critical variable in enrollment management is the admissions market itself, including the number of quality applicants. Furman will not increase the student body size at the expense of quality. Thus a principle variable is "what the market will bear." As marketing efforts and application numbers increase, Furman will be able to modestly increase student body size, while maintaining the goal of attracting a vibrant, engaged, and diverse student body.
      • Housing stock. Furman is committed to a policy of remaining 100% residential. Thus housing stock capacity acts as a hard upper ceiling on student body size. That ceiling is not itself an absolute, however, because it may be influenced by the spillover capacity at The Vinings (which Furman treats as an extension of campus housing), as well as by the changes, upward or downward, in existing capacity in Furman's current residential housing stock as that stock is remodeled, particularly in the new "Freshman Village" or "Residential College" models being considered for South Housing.

      2. Creation of a strategic improvement fund

      A Strategic Improvement Fund, consisting of a blend of a share of the additional net revenue resources generated through new enrollment management strategies and contributions from new approaches to annual fund budgeting, will be created. A rational and transparent process will invite proposals for strategic improvements, to be prioritized and funded through a University-wide committee consisting of the President's Cabinet and additional faculty, staff, student, and alumni appointments, to make annual strategic improvement expenditure recommendations for the annual budget submitted to the Board of Trustees for review and approval.

      3. Changing Annual Fund Contributions

      Annual fund contributions to Furman will not be included in the underlying operating budget resources, but will be segregated and principally earmarked for the newly created Strategic Improvement Fund, with the annual fund contributions to the Strategic Improvement Fund reserved for non-recurring strategic improvements only.

      4. Reserve Fund

      Furman will increase its allocation to the Reserve Fund as contingency and buffer for future economic contingencies, with a near-term goal of creating a fund of approximately 1.5% of budget.

  • Facilities and landscape

      1. The physical landscape

      The Furman community takes great pride in the physical beauty of the campus. The campus landscape is uplifting to all who learn and work on the campus, and is often an important factor in decisions by applicants to attend Furman. Furman will remain committed to maintaining the beauty of its landscape. Special attention will be placed on the health of the landscape, especially the trees and lake that grace the campus.

      2. Sustainability

      The pursuit of sustainability is an important global imperative. We have a moral obligation to be good stewards of the earth for future generations. The universities of the world are appropriate leaders in encouraging the pursuit of scientific advances, and wise political and cultural policies, in the collective quest to ensure a sustainable planet. Furman is justly proud of all that it has done in the pursuit of sustainability in our management of our University and as an educational and service goal, including our leadership and ongoing pursuit of the goals set forth in the national President's Climate Commitment. The Shi Center is, in substance and symbol, a recognition of these ongoing efforts.4 As the political and business leaders in the greater Greenville area continue to place a high priority on sustainability, Furman will be well-positioned to contribute to the prosperity and quality of life in the community by partnering with local business, political, and civic organizations to advance the community's broader sustainability goals. Furman's ongoing commitment to sustainable practices in the management of its own landscape and facilities will remain a governing imperative.

      3. Enhancement of the student experience

      The Student Life Master Plan includes the enhancement of residential quads, student recreational spaces, and social venues designed to align the upgrade of facilities and landscape with the overall goals of enhancing the student experience at Furman.

      4. Information Technology

      Furman's "virtual landscape" will be as impressive as its physical landscape. Furman is a learned community in which the flow of information and connectivity to the global community is central to daily operations. Furman will undertake a comprehensive effort to upgrade the Information Technology infrastructure of the University. A first iteration of a new Strategic Plan for Information Technology is an attachment linked to this Report.

      5. Deferred maintenance

      Furman will direct additional budgetary resources to deferred maintenance.

  • Administrative practices

      1. Furman as a community

      A powerful element of Furman's identity is its sense of community, often articulated through the phrase "Furman Family." Furman must follow "best practices" as an employer and a non-profit business. At the same time, those practices must always be informed by the values of humanity, dignity and support for all those who comprise the community. Provision of child- care facilities, flexible scheduling options, appropriate salary and benefit structures, and fair working environments are among the types of administrative practices to be continually followed and enhanced as manifestations of these values.

      2. Fostering a culture of excellence

      Furman will foster a culture of excellence within the workplace, encouraging and supporting managerial and human resources practices that include meaningful assessment, accountability, merit-based compensation adjustments, other work-quality incentives, and training and development opportunities for talented employees.

      3. Administrative reorganization

      (a) University-wide organizational assessment. Furman will engage in ongoing assessment and refinement of its administrative organization and structure, to improve efficiency and enhance transparency. All administrative departments within the University will undertake their own internal strategic planning processes, including reorganization plans, consistent with the larger strategic goals of the University and the values of efficiency and transparency.

      (b) Presidential cabinet governance structure. A first iteration of these reorganization efforts is presented in an attachment linked to this Report. A principal feature of the administrative reorganization is a move to a "Presidential Cabinet" form of central administrative governance in which the position of Provost and the position of Vice President for Enrollment have been eliminated, with a cabinet chaired by the President charged with collective and collaborative administrative leadership. In its present form the Cabinet consists of the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean (the Chief Academic Officer of the University), the Vice President for Finance and Administration, the Vice President for Development, the Vice President for Student Life, the Vice President for Marketing and Public Relations, the Vice President and Director of Athletics, the Associate Vice President for Admission, and the Associate Vice President for Financial Aid, all of whom are direct reports to the President. The Cabinet shall also include a member of the faculty appointed by the President in consultation with the Faculty Chair.

      (c) Commitment to academic freedom and shared governance. Furman reaffirms its longstanding commitment to principles of academic freedom and shared governance as guiding principles in the administration of the University.