Finance and Administration

Mission

The Finance and Administration Division oversees the financial planning activities and results of the College and ensures that the College has the appropriate financial and physical infrastructure, services, and oversight to support the academic mission of the College. 

Goals

Ensure the financial resiliency of the College through oversight, care, and custody of all funds held by the College, including endowment, operating cash, gift planning assets, and retirement plan assets [Investment Office]

Provide the College community diversified business services, including processing financial transactions and protecting monetary assets by maintaining a robust control environment  [Business Office]

Provide students with access to financial resources to make up the difference between the direct and indirect costs of annual attendance and what students, and their parents, are able to contribute [Financial Aid]

Conduct research to support effective planning, assessment, and decision-making across the College [Institutional Research]

Manage the general legal affairs of the College, and evaluate and monitor institutional risks.  [General Counsel]

Ensure a safe campus for the entire community through patrol, emergency response, crime prevention education, and individual safety escort.  [Public Safety]

Plan, construct, manage, and maintain Swarthmore's buildings, grounds (gardens, lawns, athletic fields, and natural woodlands), housing units, and infrastructure (electricity, sanitary, water, data infrastructure, heating and cooling plants including distribution and energy management) with attention to environmental sustainability [Facilities Management]

Provide a range of additional services that enhance the quality of campus life for students, faculty, and staff, including dining, OneCard, Campus and Community Store, post office, print services, event management and non-academic summer programs, and operations of the Inn at Swarthmore [Auxiliary Services]

Planning and Assessment at the College

The Finance and Administration areas embrace the principles of a sound financial position and financial resilience and equilibrium. The College seeks to have balanced budgets with a sustainable reliance on endowment support. The College desires to have a financial position that reflects an allocation of resources in alignment with the priorities of the College's mission. It recognizes that the College's resources are not just financial, but also include its human resources (faculty, staff, and students), as well as its physical assets (buildings and land). It seeks to sustain these resources over time so that future generations of the College will have the same benefits as present generations. This is accomplished through processes that clearly tie budgeting and decision-making with planning. For example, it is the College's practice to assume no increases for departmental budgets or in faculty or staff positions. Although the annual budget does, in fact, have some funds available for increases and additions, these funds are pooled centrally. Departments must submit a specific request for any increase. After meeting unavoidable cost increases, this practice has resulted in a gradual reallocation of resources to the most compelling, high priority needs as identified in our annual planning process.

 

Some of the resources, tools, and strategies used by these areas to assess financial and institutional effectiveness are:

  • The College hires Cambridge Associates to provide comparative endowment data. It also participates in the annual Commonfund endowment survey. These services provide data on both the endowment investment return relative to peers, along with data on operational trends and best practices. The College also hires specialist consultants for specific asset classes in the endowment.
  • As an issuer of bonds in the public debt markets, Swarthmore receives bond ratings from both the Moody's and Standard & Poor's rating agencies. These agencies provide detailed comparative data for a number of financial and operating ratios.  The College has hired Yuba Consulting to provide independent financing advice and comparative peer information on an ongoing basis.
  • The College participates in a consortium of selective private institutions and has access to extensive institutional data and survey information from this group. Using data from this consortium and other sources, the Institutional Research Office prepares reports for senior leadership and Key Performance Indicators used to facilitate Board discussions
  • The College administers numerous surveys to students (incoming, enrolled, graduating), alumni, parents, and faculty on a regular schedule.
  • Long-term financial projections are prepared on a regular basis to test the resiliency of the College's financial structure and conduct sensitivity analyses of key underlying assumptions.
  • The Board has long-standing, effective committees for Finance, Investment, and Audit & Risk Management. An Admissions & Financial Aid committee began in 2012.