Kaitlyn Coogan

Equinox Staff


This year’s 2011 Bradford K. Perry Award was bestowed upon Associate Vice President for Finance, Karen House, along with Finance and Budget Analyst, Melissa Laughner, for their development of a multi-scenario, multi-year financial planning model. This model has been essential for integrating Keene State College’s strategic planning initiatives with financial projections.

In laymen’s terms, this financial plan was a result of the decrease in state funding for public schools in New Hampshire; almost a 50% cut in funding.

House and Laughner gathered their financial knowledge with a variety of different gravities of the budget cuts to create a financial plan that could be easily adjusted to work for different schools and different scenarios.

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“We developed a multi-year financial projection model that integrates a number of different areas of operations for a college and brings them together so that it facilitates decision-making,” House said.

They were asked to see what they could develop and they both had prior experience that they brought in, as well as some ideas from some colleagues at Plymouth State University. They combined these with their own ideas of what they needed. It was an evolutionary process where they used ideas from other financial models from over the years both at KSC and other universities. As the needs for the school changed, they figured out a way to bring the ideas together in a way that was more useful for the schools needs.

A piece of what the model entails came from PSU. House and Laughner had a need that they did not have a tool for so they visited their colleagues at PSU and asked if they were struggling with the same issue and they were. PSU showed them what they were doing and there was an aspect House and Laughner really enjoyed. They asked if they could use that presentation layer and now it is integrated into this new model.

They figured out they won the award at a Board of Trustees meeting where they were presenting a small demonstration of the model. They did not even know they were nominated for it until someone announced it a little later in the meeting.

“Shock and honor; it’s really an honor to both be nominated and to be actually given the award. It was surprising,” Laughner said.

House has won this award three times; the other times they were in large groups but this is the first time she won it in a small, two-person group. “It was pretty gratifying,” House said. The Bradford K. Perry Award winners are people who have created something new, innovative, and creative which solves real problems and concerns for the school.

House, Laughner, and Vice President of Finance and Planning Jay Kahn presented a pre-conference workshop last summer in the Washington, D.C. area that was in large degree explaining to the participants how and why they developed the model. They actually gave them a version of the model for their own use on a flash drive and they walked them through how to use it. They presented these participants with a way to work with their financial difficulties in their schools.

The intent was to allow the financial modeling for different activities of the college that are important to be done individually so they can be looked at and worked with by themselves but also bring them together to see how they work as a whole financially.

The model continues to improve over the course of its use and since it began a year ago it has been adjusted to work for the issues at hand and continues to work with the economic problems facing the school today.


Kaitlyn Coogan can be contacted at kcoogan@ksc.mailcruiser.com.


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