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There is rarely a perception in colleges and universities that everyone owns the financial plan. Deans, department chairs, and division heads are most concerned with their own budgets, rather than the aggregate. Mythologies about how the academic and financial sides of the house operate create artificial divisions and compromise the development of shared responsibility. Driven by myth, each side tends to view the other as a threat to its values and priorities. These views often stereotype the other in ways that become self-fulfilling prophesies. For example, Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) believe that academics are inefficient and that CFOs, with their particularly keen grasp of reality, are better suited to set institutional priorities. They believe that, as in the for-profit world, finance is the language and measurement of success, and everyone should be fluent. And from the academic side of the house comes the conviction that those who work in finance are unable to comprehend the essence of higher education and that CFOs will arbitrarily take away needed resources. In a recent discussion NERCHE’s Chief Financial Officers Think Tank approached the task of finding ways for the CFO to help dismantle these myths and build partnerships with academic administrators.


The following Brief from the New England Resource Center for Higher Education (NERCHE) is a distillation of the work by members of NERCHE's think tanks and projects from a wide range of institutions. NERCHE Briefs emphasize policy implications and action agendas from the point of view of the people who tackle the most compelling issues in higher education in their daily work lives. With support from the Ford Foundation, NERCHE disseminates these pieces to a targeted audience of higher education leaders and media contacts. The Briefs are designed to add critical information and essential voices to the development of higher education policies and the improvement of practice at colleges and universities.


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