Assistant Editor at SAIS Washington
The state of SAIS’ financial union is one of sweeping change — contouring on varied issues of budgets, debt, fundraising, philanthropy, new academic programs, organizational restructuring and leadership changes.
On October 22, in an email to the SAIS community, Dean Vali Nasr shared news on several “ongoing efforts to improve administrative functions at SAIS.” Topping the list was budget and strategy, an administrative function that aims to balance and integrate budgets across campuses. Leading this effort is Bart Drakulich, currently the director of finance and administration for SAIS Europe at the Bologna campus, “who will [now] take on additional duties as a special adviser for SAIS budget strategy and integration,” wrote Nasr.
As a member of SAIS’ financial team, Drakulich will be working closely with Senior Associate Dean for Operations and Finance Myron Kunka, Budget Officer Vivian Walker, and Hopkins-Nanjing Center (HNC) American Co-Director Dr. Jason Patent, among others.
“Dean Kunka has fiduciary responsibilities for the finances of all three campuses, but he is also in charge of operations,” Drakulich said. “In order to increase collaboration between the campuses Dean Kunka asked me to look into the different budgeting and accounting practices across the school and find ways to better integrate our financial structures to create a more seamless experience for our students.”
These recent efforts are taking place against a backdrop of a serious budget deficit last year — a $3 million budget loss — at the time when newly arrived Nasr took the helm as dean.
Marking the monetary canvas then in July 2012 were walls that siloed campus budgets across SAIS DC, SAIS Europe, and HNC. This hindered agreement on budget overlap and streamlined decision-making, and caused uncertainty around roles and responsibilities of finance directors across campuses.
Complicating the situation has been the timing of new leadership last year with new Associate Dean for Development and Alumni Relations Lori Cwalina at the same time as Nasr, and this year with the exodus of campus directors in Europe and Nanjing.
Beyond restructuring the financial team, several other spokes are moving SAIS’ financial wheels forward.
On the fundraising front, SAIS is taking part in the landmark “Rising to the Challenge” campaign, an ambitious initiative out of the Baltimore campus that aims to raise $4.5 billion for the larger Hopkins community.
“We have a goal of 160 million [dollars] to raise, and that goal is for all three of our campuses combined,” said Lori Cwalina on SAIS’ share of the fundraising effort. This money will flow into six buckets at SAIS: fellowships (25%), faculty (25%), research and centers (25%), facilities (14%), programmatic initiatives (6%), and unrestricted funding (5%). Together, these categories will enrich the overall quality and competitiveness of the SAIS experience. Major sources for this funding will include alumni giving, individual donations and philanthropy from foundations. The campaign aims to finish by June 2017.
One might also notice the emails and bright pamphlets surfacing on new graduate programs ramping up, such as the Master of International Economics and Finance (MIEF) degree — these efforts aim to continue offering diverse academic opportunities to various cadres of students while also improving SAIS’ financial position with additional revenue streams. Other initiatives include an English Language Summer school in Nanjing — set to commence next summer — and an Energy, Resources, and Environment (ERE) concentration in the future at Nanjing.
On organizational restructuring, SAIS continues to build out its “One SAIS” motto reflecting its global nature with three campuses.
“We are trying to look at ourselves as the one school three campus conceptual approach.. and financing is a major part of that,” Kunka said.
In this light, SAIS administration is moving away from the siloed multi-campus entity model toward a “one administrative approach, one way of doing things, one set of processes [where] you can really save resources.”
Also working behind the scenes is a faculty senior administration committee that is looking at the budget administration, ensuring proper resources and efficiency. In tandem with these efforts, SAIS administration is also focusing on four main priorities: increasing the size of full-time faculty, increasing financial aid, continue enhancing the SAIS experience, and improving facilities.
“It is also transition period,” noted Kunka on leadership changes. Underway right now are searches for a new American co-director in Nanjing and a new director in Bologna. “All of this is happening at the same time, so we are making sure that we have got the right processes in place, that we look at things from a global perspective, we are always looking to utilize resources in the best way possible.”
With Drakulich’s new appointment to lead budget and strategy integration — in concert with new initiatives around fundraising, academics, leadership, and organizational priorities — the administration believes that SAIS finances are in a better position for management, debt reduction, and efficient allocation of resources. “We are financially and structurally sound,” Kunka said. “[And] our goal is to break even, every year.”