lizabethtown College is a small private college in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, with successful professional and trade programs.
“Our motto is ‘educate for service,’” said Jerry Silberman, Vice President for Finance and Strategy at Elizabethtown College. “Many of our students, faculty, and staff have been drawn to the college because of that viewpoint.”
According to Jerry, managing academic program revenues and portfolios can be challenging.
“Our sector in higher education really wasn’t focused on business models,” said Jerry. “We were more focused on student engagement and achievement, and we let the economics take care of themselves.”
However, the college needed to evaluate the performance of its program offerings and identify and discontinue programs that were losing money in order to improve the financial health of the college. Like most colleges, though, Elizabethtown College didn’t have a system in place to easily review individual academic program economics.
“It was a very time-consuming manual process,” said Jerry.
Elizabethtown College needed help analyzing the financial performance of individual academic programs on a broad scale to make data-informed decisions about its program offerings.
Identification of several new growth opportunities
Development and launch of three academic programs
16% reduction in full-time staff
Enhancement of data-informed
Elizabethtown College’s early conversations with Gray DI focused on how the firm could help the college revise its program portfolio. The college wanted to identify both growth initiatives and opportunities to significantly reduce direct instructional costs to ensure the health and viability of the
college. The work was initiated before the COVID-19 pandemic was apparent, and the seriousness of the budget situation increased along with the severity of the pandemic.
First, Gray DI facilitated a two-day program portfolio workshop for faculty and administrative leadership. They assessed potential new programs and existing programs based on the college’s mission, academic considerations, experience, as well as Gray DI’ data on student demand and employment opportunities for graduates.
“Gray DI helped us take a very deep dive into academic program revenues and expenses, so we could identify opportunities to improve efficiencies in our portfolio,” said Jerry. “They looked at our existing programs in regards to our enrollments, the enrollments of peer institutions in the region, market demand, employment opportunities, and other data points.”
After the workshop, Gray DI enabled Elizabethtown College to analyze its program and departmental economics by configuring a program economics platform with the institution’s actual activity, instructional cost, and revenue data. The analysis would determine the relevance and sustainability of the full list of program offerings, as well as identify new growth opportunities in the current market.
Gray DI helped us take a very deep dive into academic program revenues and expenses.
We maintain the bulk of our programs, but we’re able to offer them now in such a way that our cost is lower and, as a result, program margins are higher.
Faculty salary and benefit savings of $2.3 million