FRANKFORT, Ky. – The James Graham Brown Foundation of Louisville, Kentucky has awarded a grant of up to $690,000 to the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities to help Kentucky’s private nonprofit colleges and universities engage in a strategic analysis of their core academic operations and enhance their viability.
The James Graham Brown Foundation has long been a major supporter of Kentucky’s nonprofit private colleges. With this grant the foundation sought to look beyond its previous capital and programmatic funding efforts to support a more systemic process designed to improve colleges’ long-term sustainability.
James Graham Brown Foundation president, Mason Rummel, noted, “We were looking for opportunities to assist private higher education in Kentucky achieve greater success. We believe this program will benefit not just the institutions, but will have greater impact on the state and its image.”
Under the three-year grant, AIKCU will partner with The Higher Education Practice, led by Ken Hoyt, PhD, to provide an opportunity for all AIKCU members to engage in the Optimizing Academic Balance (OAB) analysis process. OAB is a data-driven, multi-year process that helps colleges better understand their academic business models. The ultimate goal of OAB is to provide information college administrators and boards can use to “redirect scarce resources to increase enrollment, maximize the value of the curriculum, and strengthen institutional viability.”
“We appreciate the James Graham Brown Foundation’s support of our members’ ongoing efforts to become more effective and efficient,” said AIKCU president Gary S. Cox. “Participating in the Optimizing Academic Balance process will help our members better understand what they do especially well and how they can build on their successes in the most cost-effective manner. We are pleased to partner with the Brown Foundation so that all of our members will have this opportunity to take a deep dive into their data and then use that new understanding to strategically focus their resources on meeting the needs of their students.”
The Optimizing Academic Balance process uses an institution’s own data collected throughout the academic lifecycle – from admissions inquiries to successfully completed credit hours – to develop a thorough understanding of the costs, benefits, and long-term viability of each academic major and the general education program. It helps identify both opportunities for growth and for cost containment, providing colleges and boards with the information they need to assist their long term strategic planning efforts.
This James Graham Brown Foundation grant is designed to remove financial barriers to the process by covering 75 percent of the costs of the OAB process for each AIKCU institution that chooses to participate. The grant also provides additional supports for colleges that need assistance during the internal data collection process.
AIKCU will hold information sessions for members on the Optimizing Academic Balance process and the grant in the coming weeks, with implementation to begin soon thereafter.