College analyzes budget strategically

An important aspect to the decision making process of the college is deciding what portion of the budget an area of the college will receive.

Vice President of Strategic Finance Dr. Gary Brown plays an important role in making these decisions at Mercyhurst College.

As part of strategic finance, Brown is in charge of “analyzing what budgets were, what budgets are and where the college needs the budgets to be,” he said.

Strategic finance involves making future plans. In order to do this, certain assumptions must be made, Brown said.

The college’s finances are generated by enrollment.

Graduate students, adult students, traditional students and associate degree students all generate money for the college. Each group of students generates a different amount of money, Brown said.

Brown plans what the college’s approximate budgets will be by calculating what the current revenue is, what it is going to be based off projected enrollment and what the expenses of the college are.

Based on how much money the college has to spend, administration decides the budgets for every area of the college.

Brown explained that academics receive the most emphasis in terms of funding.

“We want other things to be good, but we want academics to be best,” Brown said.

Since the college cannot increase the budget of every academic program, administration has to decide which programs receive more money.

“We can’t be excellent at everything,” Brown said. “We have to pick and choose what to be excellent at.”

Brown explained how to choose which programs the college should increase the budgets of in order to improve them.

The Intelligence Studies program is an area that the college should increase the budget of because many students are enrolled in that major.

“From a strategic standpoint, we know we need to invest more money in that program,” Brown said.

The science related programs and health programs, such as nursing should have more money invested into them, Brown said, “due to growth in enrollment and strong regional and national reputations.”

While the Intelligence Studies program and science majors are popular now, Brown said that this could change in the future. If this changed, the amount of funding each program receives would also change.

Other areas of the college that should receive more money, according to Brown, are graduate programs.

“More graduate programs need to be developed and supported to grow this area of the college’s enrollment,” he said.

Technology is another aspect of the college that should be emphasized, Brown said.

“Funds need to be added to IT, marketing, new program development and the website to keep up with ever changing technologies and to help grow the college’s enrollment,” Brown said.

While Brown is a key person at the college in determining which programs receive more money, there is not a single person at the college who is responsible for saying “this is what should be cut,” Brown said.

The same is true for starting a new program on the campus.
The different departments of the college are responsible for making calculations on how much revenue they will have.

When a new program is started, the college will have to spend money on the new program, which means there will be less money to spend on something that already exists. The only other alternative is to raise tuition.

College administration is involved in making these strategic financial decisions.

As a group, “we decide what we believe is the right decision,” Brown said.