Strategy: Don’t Rely On Endowments, Diversify
FAYETTE, Iowa (Feb. 1, 2010) – Upper Iowa University (UIU), Iowa’s largest private college, continues to grow despite the recent turbulent economic times. The source of its success is its diversified business model, which is piquing the curiosity of many in the higher education industry as well as a record number of students.
“There is no doubt we are bucking the trend right now,” said Dr. Alan Walker, president of Upper Iowa University. “We are in the best financial situation we have ever been in, enabling us to continue to offer students the education and resources they need to graduate, then succeed in such a competitive job market.”
Throughout his 30 years in higher education, Dr. Walker has never seen such broad economic challenges. States across the country are reducing support to state institutions, while private colleges are struggling to maintain the portfolios of large endowments they rely on for their operating budgets.
UIU has never had a large endowment, despite being a private, independent university. Instead, it depends on a revenue stream that is diversified with 18 U.S. and international centers and a thriving online program. UIU’s online program is the university’s fastest-growing area, increasing 25 percent a year to make it the most profitable revenue stream.
“It’s not surprising to see a few for-profit institutions doing well during a recession,” said Dr. Walker. “But as a non-profit university, Upper Iowa is really in a league of its own.”
The combination of economic stability and diverse academic opportunities has attracted a record number of students. UIU has seen an 11 percent overall growth in enrollment over the past year, and enrollment on the Fayette campus is up 40 percent from five years ago.
UIU is not only growing its student ranks, it is also growing the local economy. Dr. Walker and other Upper Iowa leaders recognize that economic development for its city and region is critical to continued success and is devoting resources to that cause. For example, UIU is offering up to $40,000 in grants to businesses willing to relocate to Fayette, Iowa, or for existing businesses to expand. Upper Iowa is also helping local businesses develop their e-commerce capabilities.
“UIU is proud to be part of the Fayette community,” said Dr. Walker. “Helping to revitalize the region is a responsibility and hopefully one way to help the economy get back on the right track.”
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