A large, public R1 institution faced a number of strategic headwinds – capped enrollment, flat tuition, loss of international student revenue, and a series of state-mandated but unfunded priorities that were sapping resources. On top of this, there was lack of internal understanding about the scale of these challenges exacerbated by lack of confidence in the abilities of both the communications function and the finance and budgeting function. The school’s new president turned to BMCG for help in launching a critical and strategic budget realignment while at the same time re-energizing the institution’s academic, healthcare and research mission.

Actions / Recommendations:

  • Developed the structure and goals for a year-long initiative to:
    • a) increase understanding of budget challenges, and
    • b) empower a series of taskforces to identify opportunities to save money, increase revenue, and remove internal barriers to success.
  • Developed a clear strategic positioning for the president’s year one initiatives through the dual lenses of a focus on openness and collaboration, a sea change from previous leadership.
  • Worked with the finance team to develop clear and accurate budget information to facilitate stronger decision-making.
  • Led all communications activities and developed all materials for the launch of their strategic budget initiative including a series of virtual town halls, a comprehensive website, and key presidential video and email messages.


Despite occurring at the height of COVID-19; the new openness, collaborative approach, and detailed (albeit difficult) information about the financial challenges the institution faced, led to an overwhelmingly positive response by faculty and staff. Internal survey data showed a high degree of satisfaction with the president and the approach. The various task forces generated hundreds of new ideas which were then prioritized, aligned, and initiated. And the model of engagement developed by BMCG became the hallmark for the president’s leadership style. The second year saw the application of this approach once again as the university undertook a broader strategic planning process built on the foundation of the financial sustainability work completed in year one.