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Mercer University Finance in Higher Education Interview Discussion

DISCUSSION Interview with a professionalI want you all to interview your supervisors (or someone responsible for budgets). I want you to ask them where their revenues come from, where do they spend their money, how they were trained to do their budgets, and what they wish they had known before having their supervisory positions. Be sure to include some of the most poignant quotes – those are very powerful to read. This will be open to ALL of you at the same time so you can read each others posts to learn more about how the university functions. Don’t be surprised if they don’t give you REAL numbers, but do what you can. Most of you are newbies, BUT ask and get whatever you can. Remember to think about your readings and synthesize what you learned from your supervisor and your readings. Have fun with this one!!!!!! YOU DO HAVE TO GET THE IRB SIGNED. Hello,This interview discussion assignment is about FINANCE in HIGHER EDUCATION. I want you to make up this interview. We are interviewing someone in a position that he is responsible for budgets in ( Al Jouf University in Saudi Arabia ) his name is dr. najm Alhusaini. I will attach the interview questions to use, and THE IRB to be signed. NOTE: make sure to have the information correct about where their revenues come from, where do they spend their money? You need to research it online!Also, we need to reply to two posts of my classmates interviews!The interview post should be 2 pages and the replies should be half page each ( 200 word each ) so the total is three pages.The interview should be three parts: Part one:Who are you interviewing and the reason you conducted this interview?Part two:The interview questions and answers. Part three:Your reflections/ feedback about this interview, and how you describe this person management style and what leadership style this person is?

Assignment Description
DISCUSSION Interview with a professional
I want you all to interview your supervisors (or someone responsible for budgets). I want
you to ask them where their revenues come from, where do they spend their money, how
they were trained to do their budgets, and what they wish they had known before having
their supervisory positions. Be sure to include some of the most poignant quotes – those are
very powerful to read.
This will be open to ALL of you at the same time so you can read each others posts to learn
more about how the university functions. Don’t be surprised if they don’t give you REAL
numbers, but do what you can. Most of you are newbies, BUT ask and get whatever you
can. Remember to think about your readings and synthesize what you learned from your
supervisor and your readings. Have fun with this one!!!!!! YOU DO HAVE TO GET THE
IRB SIGNED.
Hello,
This interview discussion assignment is about FINANCE in HIGHER EDUCATION. I want
you to make up this interview. We are interviewing someone in a position that he is
responsible for budgets in ( Al Jouf University in Saudi Arabia ) his name is dr. najm
Alhusaini. I will attach the interview questions to use, and THE IRB to be signed.
NOTE: make sure to have the information correct about where their revenues come from,
where do they spend their money? You need to research it online!
Also, we need to reply to two posts of my classmates interviews!
The interview post should be 2 pages and the replies should be half page each ( 200 word
each ) so the total is three pages.
The interview should be three parts:
Part one:
Who are you interviewing and the reason you conducted this interview?
Part two:
The interview questions and answers.
Part three:
Your reflections/ feedback about this interview, and how you describe this person
management style and what leadership style this person is?
Before you start the discussion, please read the students posts so you can get the idea how
they did it and how it should be done.
HERE ARE MY CLASSMATES POSTS THAT WE NEED TO REPLY TO:
Post one:
Gina,
I interviewed Dr. Jeffrey Waldrop, Dean of the University Library and Associate Professor of
Church History at Mercer University, and all I can say is WOW. His perspective of running
finances and how he created an organized and efficient system is very impressive. He was
very considerate of giving me an hour of his time. When you walk into the lobby of his
office, you’re welcomed by a smaller version of the library, as seen in Beauty and the Beast –
his personal collection. It’s really cool.
I want to apologize for not recording my conversation with Dr. Waldrop; I was so intrigued
by the conversation I would forget to take notes, haha. We were talking about his history,
his finance management, and leadership style; I ran out of time to ask the assigned questions,
but I think you can get a sense of the type of financial manager he is based on the
information I will be sharing.
Since Dr. Waldrop has only been at Mercer for less than a year, I’m going to speak about his
previous role as the Associate Provost for the Library and Assistant Professor of Church
History at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California since that is where he gained
his financial management skills.
Fuller Theological Seminary is the largest multidenominational seminary with





over 3500 students from 90 countries and 110 denominations
22 centers, institutes, and initiatives
6 online degree programs
16-degree programs in 3 languages (English, Spanish, Korean)
3 schools
During his time at Fuller, he held different leadership positions at the library, and he
recognized a paradigm shift of online classes; therefore, he worked on building the textbook
inventory of online eBooks and helped to update policies for faculty to use online sources. If
the school didn’t have it, then he would buy the missing eBooks or buy them from Amazon.
He successfully grew the textbook library to 85%. He was able to do this by dissecting the
budget and figuring out how to serve the students. At Fuller, his staff shrunk from 33 to 20.
One of the things we talked about was his view on customer service. When he was working
in a mid-level position at Fuller, the Spanish speaking students were having a hard time
locating books in Spanish because the library organizational system grouped English and
Spanish books together in the Dewy Decimal Classification System because the books use the
same Roman letters. So, he spoke with his boss and devised a plan to pull all of the Spanish
books (don’t remember how many he said but I think it was 5000 books) and create their
section in the library. The school offers 16-degree programs in English, Spanish, and Korean,
so it was fitting to add the Spanish section since there was already a Korean and English
section.
Dr. Waldrop’s wife has family in Atlanta, and they knew they would be relocating here. He
applied to the open position and was appointed as Dean of the University Library at Mercer
University on July 1st. Mercer University Provost Dr. Davis says, “Dr. Waldrop has an
excellent track record as a scholar and as a library administrator, and he embraces Mercer’s
mission. I believe he will reinforce the University’s tradition of superior library and research
support for students, faculty, and other library patrons on the Macon and Atlanta campuses
and the regional academic centers.”
When we spoke about working with budgets, Dr. Waldrop was transparent about it and
noted how difficult it could be, especially with the restricted funds by donors. At Fuller and
Mercer, he inherited an unorganized mess of finances, and he had to start over new, which is
where his own internal auditing Excel filing system (with color-coding) came in handy.
Coupled that with his ability to comb through all the finances and understand how those
funds can be used, he began to think outside of the box in how to use the library funds
efficiently and deliberately. He knows exactly where the money is coming and going and is
even able to catch when the finance department doesn’t pay a bill.
His ten-year-old filing system proved to be successful at Fuller and planned to use it at
Mercer as well. Dr. Waldrop oversees 47 employees, and he realized there was a lack of
awareness of basic technology and taught his staff how to utilize technology resources such
as Google Docs. There are 26 mini budgets within the library budget, and he ended recalling
all the p-cards. There was a lack of oversight of priorities, and aside from turning the library
budget to be more financially responsible, there is the human component of getting everyone
on board with the changes. He also had to figure out how to adjust the staff accordingly
based on strengths and advising them in having their own independent fiscal responsibility.
For example, the Mercer, Macon, and Regional Academic Center Libraries each has a
department that does outreach activities, and they were emailing Dr. Waldrop every week
for permission to buy something. He created their budgets and told them this is what you get
for the school year, and if you use all of it too soon, you will not be given more funds. This
made them more accountable in their choices, and I think it gives them a sense of pride to
know that they made it happen.
He made Wendy, Administrative Assistant to the Dean of the University Library at Tarver,
the Budget Manager, and he assigned himself as the Budget Administrator. When he arrived
at Mercer, he found a $32k charge on phones and was able to receive $7500 in credit. How
long has this been happening?
He has been asking everyone to submit an original invoice prior to payment, and he would
file them electronically. Other departments the library has relationships within terms of
goods and services would ask for payment or the account number to charge the payment, and
Dr. Waldrop would say no and ask for an invoice so he can review what the library was
being charged for and have a record. As a former administrator for a popular restaurant in
Buckhead, I was shocked to learn this had been standard practice prior to Dr. Waldrop’s
arrival. When the library pays a large bill, they must walk over the invoice and payment in
person, and he would also send a follow-up email stating the payment for the invoice was
submitted on date and time. To get a handle of the financial situation, Dr. Waldrop had to
make sure that any money being spent had to go through him and Wendy.
The library revenue comes from operating, personnel, and gifts (I think I have personnel
wrong, can’t read my handwriting, sorry!). There is also a




Building Operations Fund
Tarver Book Fund produces book funds every year
Tarver Operations Fund: operation needs
Tarver Enhancement Fun: a one-time gift which they want to use to remodel the 24/7
basement study area in Atlanta
to name a few. Gifts go to different things, and sometimes you can use gifts intended for
specific uses for other things as well. For example, A Christian singer-songwriter (I
misspelled his last name and can’t find the evidence of his gift) donated his music collection
to the Tarver library and pays for the collection and maintenance of the collection which
also ended up paying for the support of the archives the musical collection was placed in.
What I think is most exciting is learning that Dr. Waldrop will be assisting with next year’s
budget; his ability to dissect administrative puzzles will benefit the institution greatly!
I hope my recap of our discussion describes his fiscal management style.
Post two:
Sabrina,
I interviewed a certified public accountant is the Controller for an educational
institution. The responses to the interview questions were very similar to the readings in
this course. The interview is enclosed below.
Interview
Instructions: The interviewer’s questions are in bold print. The participant responses are in
traditional print.
Position at Mercer and length of employment at Mercer (or other institution of higher
education):
Ms. Sharon Ragin is employed as the Controller for Beacon of Hope Renaissance School in
Atlanta, Georgia, for the past for 20 years.
How many employees?
The school has 30 employees, but I have prepared budgets for other companies with larger
personnel, faculty etc.
Other previous experience with budgeting role as a supervisor:
I have owned an accounting firm for the past 30 years and served as a budget manager for
several corporations in the state of Georgia.
What training have you had?
I am a Certified Public Accountant. My education consists of a bachelor’s degree in
Accounting from the University of Maryland, College Park, MD, and a master’s degree in
Taxation from Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA. I have 37 years in the field, working for
Non-profits and for-profit educational and non-educational institutions.
Describe your role in the budgeting process and/or financial oversight of your department?
So you will have a template to follow which is needed to make capital acquisitions to pay
your bills, helped you meet your debt payments. I prepare budgets with a minimum of 25
million and up in revenue. We received restricted and unrestricted funds. Both federal and
state funding, philanthropists who wanted to give. Restricted money must be deposited in
separate bank accounts. Pledge campaigns must be in writing…. online pledges or mailed.
Unrestricted funds allowed institution to use the money for whatever they want to ….unless
donor said otherwise. Some nonprofits use real estate property…. can be used as a land
grant… For example. One client used funds to renovate buildings and buying property. Some
funding had restrictions.
What areas of the budget are most important to you?
Operating Expenses, and Capital Acquisitions. i.e. land, buildings, furniture, computers are
most important to me because they are the most important areas of the budget
process. Clients who do not have a budget use a zero – based budget because they have
nothing to start with. Department managers submit their budgets to the COO or
Controller. I was the Controller with Beacon. However, I worked as a controller for another
institution that required an incremental budget. With this company, my team and I built the
budget from a projected budget from last year and increased the budget from that i.e. sales
increased by 15%. It is important to be conservative on projecting income…… and higher
on expenses just in case something happens. Budget must be done by the 4th quarter of the
fiscal year.
If I am building a budget from scratch must prepare for January-October
preparing for 2020 — must be finished by 4th quarter. Begin process by pulling income
statement balance sheet, statement of cash flow from January -October. Use Percentage or
actual numbers spent.
How do you include your staff?
I use my staff to obtain detailed information i. e., all employees or contract labor 1099’s
everyone on payroll. See who will be on the payroll, salary, raises, bonuses mode of pay
etc. They pull unemployment tax, state, federal tax, create a payroll template etc.
What is the most difficult part of the financial oversight for you?
What do you worry about?
Making sure the budget is realistic. For example, If the school is trying to get a grant,
endowment or even a bank loan, in some instances, the client tries to inflate their budget. I
will advise them not to do this because this creates stress for your team. Another concern is
collecting and analyzing all the data to prepare the budget. Handling budgets for many
departments creates a lot of data that must be analyzed and very time consuming due to
stringent deadlines.
Do you do comparisons to other institutions for your budget?
Yes. There is a lot of stuff is public information now so you can make comparison.
What areas? Describe.
i.e. Chamber of Commerce, you can get access to many websites for data.
Where does the revenue come from to support your department?
Tuition, fees, endowments, grants and gifts,
What discretionary expenses are you responsible for? Is there any flexibility? Describe.
I monitor the discretionary accounts and the school wanted to control them but proposed
strict guidelines.
What happens if you “go over” budget? How do you monitor or how are you monitored?
If you go over a line item, i.e. contract labor, employees, (no taxes withheld). You will need
to create a line item that you can offset that increase so you can come out on top. This is
called a budget revision. You can see if the train wreck is about to happen. That’s why you
must monitor the budget and have a budget revision meeting.
What strategies are most helpful in the financial oversight of your department?
Having historical data helps you strategize how to put budget together. Having key players
and/or department managers to contribute to the process is crucial to budget errors and
shortfalls. I need their input.
What information from Mercer (or your institution) would be helpful to you?
Revenue will grow if you don’t give bonuses….to pay less taxes.
Anything you would like to add?
No
Interview questions:
Position at Mercer and length of employment at Mercer (or other institution of higher education):
How many employees?
Other previous experience with budgeting role as a supervisor:
What training have you had?
Describe your role in the budgeting process and/or financial oversight of your department?
What areas of the budget are most important to you?
How do you include your staff?
What is the most difficult part of the financial oversight for you? What do you worry about?
Do you do comparisons to other institutions for your budget? What areas? Describe.
Where does the revenue come from to support your department? Find the correct answer!
What discretionary expenses are you responsible for? Is there any flexibility? Describe.
What happens if you “go over” budget? How do you monitor or how are you monitored?
What strategies are most helpful in the financial oversight of your department?
What information from Mercer (or your institution) would be helpful to you?
Anything you would like to add?

Make sure you get the right info from Al Jouf university
Tift College of Education
Financial literacy: A case study
Informed Consent
You are being asked to participate in a research study. Before you give your consent to volunteer, it is important that you
read the following information and ask as many questions as necessary to be sure you understand what you will be asked
to do.
Investigators
Carol Isaac, PhD Tift College of Education, Educational Leadership
3001 Mercer University Drive, Atlanta, GA 30341, 678-547-6639
Purpose of the Research
This research study is designed to explore the financial literacy of front line supervisors and staff in higher education..
The data from this research will be used to create a survey for a national population.
Procedures
If you volunteer to participate in this study, you will be asked to participate in an interview lasting no more than an hour.
Your participation will take approximately one hour.
Potential Risks or Discomforts
There are no foreseeable risks, discomforts or costs associated with this research. You have the right to discontinue
participation at any time.
Potential Benefits of the Research
There are no benefits to you, but your participation may help administrators in higher education to better train staff with
financial oversight.
Confidentiality and Data Storage
Your name will be deidentified. No identifiable data will be used. All forms will be kept in a locked file and server.
Only the investigator will have access to files. No recordings will be made.
Participation and Withdrawal
Your participation in this research study is voluntary. As a participant, you may refuse to participate in the interview at
any time. To withdraw from the study please contact Carol Isaac PhD, Mercer University, Isaac_ca@mercer.edu, 678547-6634.
Questions about the Research
If you have any questions about the research, please speak with Carol Isaac PhD, Mercer University,
Isaac_ca@mercer.edu, 678-547-6634
In Case of Injury
Mercer IRB
Approval Date
Protocol
Expiration Date
Rev. January 2017
Page 1
09/18/2019
09/17/2020
It is unlikely that participation in this project will result in harm to subjects. If an injury to a subject does occur, he or she
may be seen at a local or regional medical facility. All expenses associated with care will be the responsibility of the
participant and his/her insurance.
Incentives to Participate
There are no incentives to participate.
Audio or Video Taping
n/a
Reasons for Exclusion from this Study
n/a
This project has been reviewed and approved by Mercer University’s IRB. If you believe there is any infringement upon
your rights as a research subject, you may contact the IRB Chair, at (478) 301-4101.
You have been given the opportunity to ask questions and these have been answered to your satisfaction. Your signature
below indicates your voluntary agreement to participate in this research study.
Research Participant Name (Print)
Name of Person Obtaining Consent (Print)
Research Participant Signature
Person Obtaining Consent Signature
Date
Date
Mercer IRB
Approval Date
Protocol
Expiration Date
Rev. January 2017
Page 2
09/18/2019
09/17/2020

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