University Business - September 2008 - (Page 12)

BEHIND the NEWS High Gas Prices Hit Campus Hard TALKING ABOUT GAS PRICES IS almost as cliché as talking about the weather. Although the national average for unleaded regular finally slipped below $4 a gallon in August, the winter months could bring new surprises. Higher energy costs are affecting everything from dining services to construction costs. Higher ed institutions spent the summer implementing programs to give staff and students some relief. A number of IHEs had four-day workweeks during the season, including Eastern Kentucky University, Misericordia University (Pa.), LeTourneau University (Texas), Oakland University (Mich.), and El Camino Community College/Compton Center (Calif.). “We recognize it’s an issue,” says Reagan Romali, chief business officer at Compton Center. “We’ve heard other institutions are increasing their online options [for students].” “There is already a lot of anecdotal evidence that enrollments online have increased, particularly at the community college level,” agrees I. Elaine Allen, director of research with the Sloan Consortium. A 2008 Sloan survey will ask “whether gas prices have impacted online or face-toface enrollments and/or the number of [planned] course and program offerings.” Rose State College (Okla.) eliminated Friday classes for students in January in an effort to save its all-commuter population money. The new schedule will continue this fall and spring, says Lisa Pitsiri, executive director for institutional advancement, since there was no sign of gas prices dropping when the new schedules were set. Public transit is another solution. University of Denver (DU) students, faculty, and staff can receive a free pass to the public transportation system, which stops in front of campus. Student requests jumped from 5,415 passes during the 2006-2007 school year to 7,399 passes in 2007-2008, with a U Accountability— Old World Style THE COMMISSION ON THE FUTURE OF HIGHer Education helped to accelerate the urgency of the discussions of accountability that have long been taking place. Adding to the conversation, the Institute for Higher Education Policy has released “Learning Accountability from Bologna: A Higher Education Policy Primer,” the second in a series of reports looking at higher ed in a global context. The report examines an ongoing effort in Europe that started in 1999 and offers suggestions for applying findings to U.S. institutions. Recommendations include: developing a degree qualification framework, adding a rating of academic challenge for each course’s credits, and developing a diploma supplement that summarizes individual student achievements. Although challenging, the European effort proves that the suggestions can be implemented. And they won’t diminish an institution’s uniqueness, says Clifford Adelman, an IHEP senior associate. He believes that if implementation starts in a few states, others will follow. For instance, negotiating credit ratings might be easier at the state rather than national level. He agrees that capturing information for the diploma supplements will be labor intensive, but points out that France has developed software to aid the process. “The message is to open your eyes beyond your borders … [and] to think about solutions from different perspectives,” says Adelman. The full report is available at —A.M. Compressed natural gas is allowing DU to lower both costs and emissions. 58 percent increase from May to July. DU has also converted several campus vehicles to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) and installed a campus pumping station. CNG is better for the environment and less expensive. At press time Allan Wilson, director of building services, reported that they had paid $3.68 per gallon to fill the regular unleaded fueling station; the CNG equivalent was $1.25 per gallon. What about the effects of gas prices on campus construction? Ronald Hall, executive vice president/San Diego for McCarthy Building Companies, says he hasn’t seen any campus projects that were ready for bid get postponed. But he has noticed companies adding fuel surcharges to projects. Luckily for campus clients, fewer construction projects in general leads to increased competition, which might help even costs out. Hall says higher prices for steel, copper and aluminum are having more of an effect on campus construction projects than high gas prices. Perhaps the lesson for today’s times is this: if it’s not one thing costing more, it’s another. —Ann McClure 12 | September 2008

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of University Business - September 2008

University Business - September 2008
College Index
Company Index
Advisory Board
Editor's Note
Behind the News
Sense of Place
Human Resources
A Virtual Visit Welcome
Development Directors Speak Out
NACUBO in the Windy City
Facilities Focus
Money Matters
Financial Aid
Endowment Management
What's New
End Note

University Business - September 2008