Leadership, finance, and the revival of St. Edward's College: New ideas and models for higher education financial reform

Marie Elizabeth Thornton, Fordham University


This study combined both qualitative and quantitative research methods to explore the revitalization efforts of a college over a 6-year period. The research had three major foci: leadership, organizational change, and financial management. As a means to perform the analysis of the finances of the institution, the researcher developed the Higher Education Finance Model (HEFM) to analyze the revenues and expenditures of a college or university based upon Source, Function, Location, and Time. The finances of one private college in the Northeast were used to determine the efficiency and effectiveness of the model. This college was selected because it had experienced a radical revival in a short period of time. The HEFM further utilized Functions, Subfunctions, and Detail Functions to provide in-depth analysis of each area of the college. In conjunction with this financial analysis provided by the use of the HEFM, this study also investigated the leadership decisions made by the college president over the same time period. This analysis utilized the work of Goulliart and Kelly (1995) on the transformation of organizations as a background. The study of the president's leadership strategies as well as the organizational redesign included his efforts to create the vision, achieve mobilization, build the measurement system, construct the economic model, reconfigure the physical infrastructure, redesign the work architecture, achieve market focus, create a reward system, and develop the organization. Each of these areas was examined in depth. The results of the qualitative data indicate the ability of this and any institution to rebound from financial crisis if appropriate financial information is available to the leadership. It further demonstrated the need for courageous leadership in making decisions about organizational change. The combination of these two components enables an institution to be transformed. The financial implications of the president's decisions were evidenced through the figures. The study identified a substantial multi-year surplus, continued growth in enrollment and in the academic quality of the student body, and an increase in services to students with less overhead. In sum, the college was “right-sized” and continues to flourish. The financial implications of certain strategic decisions were studied further (e.g., the elimination of residence space and the elimination of certain central administrative functions). In addition, this study offers practical recommendations to other institutions facing similar problems and gives suggestions on how the college or university should proceed in an attempt to “turn around” a negative situation.

Subject Area

Higher education|School administration|School finance

Recommended Citation

Thornton, Marie Elizabeth, "Leadership, finance, and the revival of St. Edward's College: New ideas and models for higher education financial reform" (1999). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9923446.