Professional Development Brown Bag Series
Northwestern's Financial Vision:
Programs in Action - Athletic Sponsorships and NU
March 17, 2010 in Norris University Center, Lake Room
Amy Potter, General Manager, Northwestern Sports Properties
Ryan Chenault, Associate Director for Sales and Marketing
Learn about some of the financial programs at Northwestern Athletics
- Athletics revenue - tickets sales, donations and corporate sponsorship
- How we work to increase revenue – attendance to games, corporate partnerships,etc.
- Big Ten Networking and visibility for NU
AHEAD@NU’s three-part Professional Development Brown Bag Series on “Northwestern’s Financial Vision” concluded with a presentation by Amy Potter, general manager of Northwestern Sports Properties, and her colleague Ryan Chenault, associate director for sales and marketing. Amy and Ryan discussed how revenue is generated in NU’s athletic department along with ways NU collaborates with other universities in the Big Ten Conference.
By way of reminding us about the importance of being well grounded, Amy began her presentation with the athletic department’s mission statement, which is to provide world class student athlete experience in the classroom and on the field of play. We learned that Big Ten athletic departments rarely operate in the black, but that varsity athletics can support and enhance a school’s image and reputation, which in turn supports overall student recruitment and fund-raising efforts. NU, for example, is known to have rigorous academic standards for its student athletes, and consistently has one of the nation’s highest graduation rates. We also learned that all Big Ten schools participate in a revenue-sharing program, so NU benefits from some of the other schools’ big-time sports programs (e.g., Ohio State).
Amy and Ryan also talked about the Corporate Partnership Program, designed to supplement revenue from ticket sales, media rights, and ancillary sales such as concessions and promotional items. NU has 72 corporate partners, and Amy and Ryan work with all of them to determine what kind of partnership works best for both parties. Harris Bank, for example, wanted to reinforce its commitment to community service, so Ryan Field now has several “Harris Bank Helper Stations” that serve as a kind of concierge service for fans.
We learned from Amy and Ryan that athletics is about increase the exposure of the University and bringing in the revenue to the programs, but that athletics knows its place within Northwestern’s main mission of academic and research excellence.
Northwestern's Financial Vision:
Exploring Links Between Central Administration and the Schools
February 22, 2010 in Norris University Center, Northwestern Room (Second Floor)
Suzanne Peterson, Senior Budget Analyst, in the Office of Budget and Planning
and Gretchen Talbot, Director of Financial Operations, in Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences delivered a well-coordinated demonstration of their collaboration in developing, administering, and managing the WCAS budget as part of the second seminar in the Professional Development Brown Bag Series. Their presentation illustrated the close ties and coordination between a central unit and a school, and they emphasized the need for cross-silo connections as a way for staff to build networks and get ahead.
Peterson and Talbot began with an overview of their respective departments and specific responsibilities within the framework of the budgeting process. While Talbot ensures that budgetary decisions support strategic initiatives in WCAS, Peterson looks at the big picture to monitor the bottom line of multiple schools and units. However, they collaborate when it comes to budgetary requests; the Office of Budget and Planning will work with and advise schools on how best to present their request in order to increase their chances of securing funding approvals.
Following Talbot’s slide showing the proposed 2011 WCAS budget, the audience delved into some sophisticated questions. One AHEAD@NU participant asked whether the carry-forward balance carried forward from year to year. Talbot explained that it does carry forward even when not used in a given year. In fact, WCAS recently created a quasi-endowment from carry funds kept in reserve to ensure long-term future success for the College. Another participant asked about the F&A process, which was met with a joint answer from Peterson and Talbot about the complexity of the F&A Recovery Sharing Program and their knowledge regarding the current initiative to improve the understanding and transparency of F&A allocation.
Peterson and Talbot closed with some advice on how to get AHEAD at Northwestern including relating work to the big picture, thinking about the issues that are a step above you, and being honest when assessing your own strengths and weaknesses. Following the presentations, participants had an opportunity to mingle and network.
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Northwestern's Financial Vision
January 26th, 2010 at 12:30pm in Norris University Center, Big Ten Room (First Floor)
Jim Hurley, Associate Vice President for Budget and Planning, Northwestern University
AHEAD@NU hosted the first seminar in the Professional Development Brown Bag Series. The speaker was Jim Hurley, the Associate Vice President of Budget in Northwestern’s Office of Budget and Planning made a presentation outlining the process of developing Northwestern’s 1.6 billion dollar annual budget. Attended by over 85 staff members of the university, attendees learned about the university budgeting process, where Northwestern stands financially, and current and future projects in development.
Particularly interesting to the audience was Hurley’s explanation of the changes in Northwestern’s financial picture since the onset of the economic recession. Although Northwestern experienced a budget gap of $37 million dollars, we have faired much better than our peers, says Hurley. While many of our peer institutions were dipping into their endowments to finance capital projects and no-loan student aid packages, Northwestern was much more fiscally conservative. Northwestern maintains 3% of its annual budget for contingency expenses, 2/3 of which is allocated to the non-recurring budget for capital projects, faculty start-ups and other one-time expenses. Additionally, Northwestern’s endowment reliance (the percentage of our annual budget that comes from endowment payouts) is much lower than that of our peers.
Northwestern’s financial situation has allowed us to meet our financial obligations without hiring freezes, layoffs, salary freezes and delays of capital projects that many of our peers have experienced. Of course, he did make sure to note some exceptions in the different schools at Northwestern.
Members of the audience asked questions including how President Obama’s proposed 3-year freeze on non-security discretionary funding may impact the University. Hurley responded that such a freeze would likely impact the University’s ability to get research funding. Hurley was also asked about the financial implications of Northwestern’s Qatar campus and how the financial situation would differ if Northwestern were a public rather than a private institution.
Special Topics in Higher Education Series
We are currently working on scheduling future special topics events, please check back for new updates. If you'd like to recommend a topic or speaker, please contact us at AHEAD@northwestern.edu
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