Shh… I’m going to let you in on a secret. Academic Leaders, want to know how to get your business office to love you forever? Go to their office at some point this spring, and ask: So, I know that we put in huge investments in order to make this school-year-unlike-any-other work… how can we maximize those investments as we head into the future?
I know, I know… we aren’t used to talking about investments and money, generally. But, as the COVID-19 pandemic raged, Academic Leaders started asking questions that never crossed their lips before:
These are the questions that our business offices deal with every day, but to get the most accurate and actionable answers, they can’t answer them alone. As Academic Leaders, we need to collaborate with our campus leaders in facilities, security, technology, and finance as never before. Our schools were better because of that collaboration, and that’s not something we want to lose post-pandemic.
Business offices in schools also are often the most outward facing of the departments within a school, because they have to be. They are constantly engaging with outside vendors (banks, food service, construction companies, etc.) that give them a window into the ways that culture and industry are changing. This also gives them insight into trends that will affect how schools operate and what that will mean for the student experience, sometimes years before it’s visible in the academic program. That wider perspective is important information for Academic Leaders to have, as we increasingly build competencies in our students that prepare them for life, not just college.
Collaboration with the business office and other outward facing offices (such as enrollment and advancement) might also help us think expansively about what our classrooms might look like in the future and what new opportunities are present in a post-pandemic world to reach more students in more equitable ways.
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Brad Rathgeber (he/him/his)