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Communicating at the Crossroads

By Jeffrey Shields posted 06-26-2018 09:36 AM


CEO Notebook |

Business officers have long undertaken myriad “other duties as assigned.” Campus communicator is one that could pay dividends this summer.

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Jeffrey Shields, FASAE, CAE
NBOA President and CEO

Some business officers don’t like to write much, and others don't enjoy public speaking (this was clearly on display when Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, was a hit at the 2017 NBOA Annual Meeting). And yet returning from last week’s 2018 Business Officer Institute, I am struck by how much the faculty of seasoned business officers stressed the importance of good communication.

Frank Aloise, CFO at Springside Chestnut Hill and former NBOA board chair, told a story about a student at his school who was so grateful for the guidance he received from his track coach, he contacted the development office to see how he could contribute and honor his mentor. The development officer said the school needed a new track and could name it after the longtime, widely admired coach. When the student asked how much it would cost, the officer answered “250.” 

BOI Woodman Center
The theater space of Woodman Community and Performing Arts Center at Moses Brown School, host of the 2018 Business Officer Institute. The building was the first project of the school’s $56 million capital campaign.

The next morning, the student popped back into the development office declaring, “I’ve raised the funds!” Soon after, he handed over a check for $250, not the $250,000 the development officer needed. You’ll be glad to know that the miscommunication was cleared up and the necessary funds were eventually raised.

Attendees meet with their Professional Learning Network, the first of several PLN meetings and outdoor gatherings — the weather was kind to us.

Whether or not they like it, business officers are key campus communicators. Shaun Buckler, director of finance and operations at Moses Brown School, the conference’s host campus, led a session on capital campaigns, which outlined how his communications with advancement colleagues helped the school both raise nearly $40 million (and counting) and deploy the funds fruitfully. Donna Pacchioni, interim CFO at Kentucky Country Day School, underscored the role of communication with admissions officers in budgeting and messaging for financial aid and enrollment management. The same could be said for sessions on endowment management, construction, legal issues, auxiliary programs, facilities and the all important head of school and business office partnership that kicked off the week.

BOI small group
An informal gathering in the hallway of the Woodman Center with BOI faculty member Dean Sidell of Tower School (left). This space was sometimes occupied by summer campers, a reminder of the myriad auxiliary programs at Moses Brown, run primarily to boost school enrollment and support the local community.

“Clear communicator” is just one of many hats you will likely wear at your school this summer. As you communicate with your colleagues on campus, remember to reach out to your fellow business officers across the country. When I asked attendees what was most useful about the Institute, a common response was, “Connecting with folks at other schools who share similar challenges.” To that end, and as always, I encourage you to ask and answer questions in Connect, see what’s brewing on Facebook or Twitter, even leave a comment or two here on Your colleagues would love to hear from you.

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Follow NBOA President and CEO Jeff Shields @shieldsNBOA.
From Net Assets NOW, June 26, 2018. Read past issues of CEO Notebook.

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