Masters of Our Own Destiny
Colleges find creative revenue streams amid shrinking budgets
BY TONY ZEISS
They say necessity is the mother of invention. In my 42 years with community colleges, it has never been more necessary to become proactive at raising revenue. The economic recession has adversely affected our colleges as never before. Across the nation, enrollment growth is unprece- dented, as are budget cuts. Such imbalance presents a challenge for community and technical college leaders. Will we hunker down
and wait for the economy to improve, or will we change the funding paradigm,
which for too long has made us dependent upon unpredictable tax-based revenue?
Times call for a clear focus on how we intend to raise alternative revenue and operate our colleges. College leaders and boards must rethink how colleges are funded,
how they can operate more efficiently, and how they will thrive in the future.
Relying on tax-based revenue to fund college operating budgets is naïve and
risky. Even though community colleges can make the case that they are critical to
the nation’s economic revival as providers of dislocated worker training and small-
business development programs, it doesn’t change the fact that public revenues,
not to mention taxpayers, are stretched
to the brink. We can bewail the budget
cuts and criticize policymakers, or we
can take positive measures that will save
the day by placing the destiny of our
colleges in our own hands.