Managing Higher Education in Uncertain Times

August 2008
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The current economic downturn has raised awareness of particular challenges faced by colleges and universities, which may find themselves facing increased demand for their services at precisely the same time that they are most challenged for financial resources. The imperative for such institutions to manage their resources wisely and efficiently has never been more important; indeed, it may be a prerequisite for maintaining or increasing funding levels from public and private sources.On May 9, 2008, the TIAA Institute brought together senior administrators in higher education, leading academic researchers on higher-education issues and TIAA's senior leadership to examine means for continuing to fulfill the mission of higher education during uncertain economic times through strategic management of finances, operations, the workforce and key institutional relationships. A common thread running through the symposium was that higher education must critically examine all aspects of its operations and even consider possibilities that in the past may have seemed unnecessarily extreme. This paper examines the extraordinary challenges colleges and universities face today, along with the strategic responses many are choosing to make — and the often significant risks inherent in those choices.