As financial departments at colleges and universities around the country struggle with the economic impact of COVID-19, we are reaching out to Registry members for insight and advice.
Janet Waldron, who is serving as Interim VP Finance and Administration at Paul Smith’s College, recently shared her thoughts on the challenges institutions are facing.
1. What is the single most important piece of advice that you would offer to a new Interim CFO about developing a budget in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis?
Waldron: Budgeting is one aspect of overall Financial Planning. Understand fully all the institutional assets, liabilities, and legal obligations.
2. Thinking in the short term, what is the most serious challenge financially posed by the pandemic for your, and other, campuses?
Waldron: In times of uncertainty such as those resulting from COVID-19, disruptions to operations, having in place a tiered list of financial contingencies tied to a sensitivity analysis with clearly identified actions and timelines to execute in covering shortfalls or other unexpected events is critical and good financial practice in general.
3. How will this pandemic change the way CFOs and Presidents lead their campuses, particularly related to financial planning and management?
Waldron: Encourage individuals to bring forward problem areas so that they can be understood and resolved as appropriate; stay transparent and accessible without judgement or blame so as to maintain trust. Above all, keep a sense of humor and stay flexible!