May 4, 2012

Westchester Administrative Staff Council
May 4, 2012
Butcher Suite, Pleasantville Campus

 

The meeting was called to order by co-chair Pat Carolan at 9:02AM.

Guest speaker: Toby Winer, EVP, CFO and Treasurer

Toby Winer started at Pace six years ago and in February became the University’s first female CFO. Among the areas that report to Ms. Winer are Financial Services, Planning & Budget, Risk Management, FIS, and Internal Audit. She also chairs the Financial Aid Review Committee.

Last week Standard and Poors’ raised our underlying ratings to investment grade, indicating quality and confidence in management and low risk of default. We will be eligible for more debt at lower rate, which will be necessary if we are to proceed with our Master Plan.

Six years ago, Pace contracted with many, many consultants in the finance area. We had limited and untimely reporting. Now, management statements look at both the process as well as numbers within departments. Universities can be fined by the Department of Education for management letter comments if there is a process issue. We had 16 comments three years ago; for the last two years, we have had no comments or fines.

Finance is working with departments University-wide. They are coordinating with Facilities, Enrollment & Planning, and OSA, taking the high points and low points in cash flow based on tuition payments into account to determine cash flow for capital projects. They create quarterly GAAP reports (which is atypical of Universities). Once we have the number of registered and paid students, we can determine the projections for the year. Last year, we projected 2 million dollars in revenue for this year, and we are right on target with November’s projections.

Six years ago, there were external auditors here year round. They couldn’t close the books because Banner was new, and they couldn’t reconcile subsystems to general ledgers. Audit fees are now down 40% from 2006 because external auditors are no longer here year round. Ms. Winer meets with the Board of Trustees Audit Committee three times a year. They focus on internal audits and controls; how we do business, and, can we do it better?

As a result of the financial aid overrun, the Financial Aid Review Committee meets weekly. No package goes out without full committee consensus. The committee is chaired by Ms. Winer and includes: the VP for Enrollment & Placement; the VP for Planning and Budget; the AVP of OSA, and the Director of Financial Aid.

Pace is tuition-dependent. The discount rate is looked at before any packages are offered. Pace changed the timing of merit increases (now in January) because we now know year-end numbers by November, so we know if it’s possible to fulfill obligations for merit increases. A 3% merit increase is budgeted for next year; a decision will be made when we know the numbers.

PricewaterhouseCoopers works with our internal audit department and they look at all the areas about how to mitigate risk.

Next year, Finance is budgeting a $1.3 million operating surplus, which is conservative since deposits are 20% ahead of what we projected. There are competing priorities for the use of surplus monies that come in. There is a gap in the competitive salary level of staff and faculty; school initiatives; deferred maintenance; a need to build liquidity; and, the option to let unrestricted net assets grow to be more robust and healthy net assets.

Question: Will there be another early retirement incentive program for faculty? There is not one currently under review. Individuals can discuss this with their dean if they are interested in leaving early.

Question: What is the status of the Graduate Center at Martine Avenue? 1 Martine is being studied along with all University property.

Question: How are we budgeting for the Master Plan?  This is in the capital budget, not in the operating budget.  We have to maintain a financial responsibility ratio per the Department of Education, which is calculated to continue to get Financial Aid in university.

Question: Can you explain the S&P rating process. We provided data in advance (comparison charts, cash balance, operating losses, enrollment data, facilities data, alumni and development) and compiled a book. At the meeting, various Pace staff told stories about things that have happened and how areas have improved.

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Guest speaker: Rick Myers, Director of Risk Management

Enterprise Risk Management Program

The Enterprise Risk Management program comes out of the corporate world, but applies to higher education.

What could happen that could cause problems? What kind of things can happen that will prevent the University from achieving its goals? In the last two years, there have been interviews and analysis conducted with Pace’s deans, president, trustees, vice presidents, etc.

An annual report is issued to President Friedman and the trustees. The data is summarized into a one page heat map graph that shows the potential impact and likeliness of various scenarios.

All staff should consider risk planning. Myers would like to know what keeps us awake at night. Give Risk Management a call, or speak to your supervisor so they know your concerns. Discussion ensued regarding.

  • Missed deadlines
  • Graduate Center status
  • Security issues for IT
  • Quality of managers
  • NYC Department of Health
  • Crimes at universities ; are we monitoring activities to be prepared for potential major crimes
  • What can happen that’s beyond our control


Announcements
Treasurer’s Report:  No change. $5,100 in budget and $2,000 for prizes for picnic contributed by an anonymous donor.
Benefits Committee: There are two slight changes to the benefits package next year: deductibles for non-generic prescription medications, and a higher deductible for out-of-network plans. There also was discussion about women faculty possibly not having same benefits of everyone else because they are working at a later age and have a limited number of years when they can conceive a child.

Tuition reimbursement for children of staff/faculty may be limited to one child per employee in the future.

Picnic Committee: To volunteer, contact Anna Fishman. All departments are encouraged to donate to the raffle.

WASC is accepting nominations through May 15 for co-chair. Send nominations to the Executive Committee.

PLV Commencement is next Friday, May 11. Volunteers should meet at 7:45 AM in Kessel. NYC Commencement is Wednesday, May 16.

The meeting adjourned at 10:16AM.