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Tulane University has hired the Huron Education consulting firm to increase university revenues, develop a new budgeting system and cut the school’s annual deficit of $15-20 million, according to an announcement by university President Michael Fitts.

In a message to the Tulane community, posted Jan. 13 on a new website dedicated to the restructuring effort, Fitts wrote that the decision to hire Huron “underscores our commitment to being good stewards of the university’s resources and ensures that we are using them wisely.”

Huron Education, a leading education consulting group in Chicago, has worked with more than 90 of the top 100 research universities in the U.S., according to the company’s website. Fitts noted that the company came highly recommended by other university presidents.

Fitts in December announced that Tulane has begun a campaign to raise $1 billion for its endowment. The goal, Fitts said, was to make Tulane more competitive with wealthier peer institutions like Emory and Duke and to secure its financial future.

In his Jan. 13 letter, Fitts noted that Moody’s Investors Services recently upgraded Tulane’s financial health status from “negative” to “stable,” citing “continued momentum in revenue growth” and “new leadership” focused on boosting performance and revenues.

(For perspective, Moody’s slapped a negative rating on the entire U.S. higher education sector the year before, attributing the dismal outlook to “mounting fiscal pressure on all key university revenue sources.”)

Still, Tulane’s endowment ranks far below that of its peer universities. To help redesign the school’s budget model, Fitts has appointed two internal steering committees, one tasked with operational review, the other with budgetary review.

According to a timeline posted on Tulane’s website, both committees with work directly with the Tulane community over the next six months, taking feedback and building consensus about the future direction of the university.

Fitts, who is preparing to travel to Panama to meet with Tulane’s academic partners and alumni there, was not available for comment on Monday.

Courtesy: nola.com