New Economic Models for A Hard Look at Financial Sustainability


8:15 AM to 2:45 PM

SNOW DATE is FRIDAY, February 2, 2018


400 W Sproul Road
Springfield, PA 19064

Program Fees:
ADVIS and PAISBOA members pay $50 per person. Payment should be made by check or credit card in advance of the program. Program fee includes breakfast and lunch.

Registration closes on January 19th



Michael Gary joined Friends Select School as Head of School in 2016. Prior to this appointment, he served as director of admissions at Phillips Exeter Academy from 2002 to 2016. Before starting his independent school career, Michael spent three years in the marketing department of Aetna Life and Casualty and as an account executive at KGA Advertising Agency. He received a BA from Trinity College in Connecticut and a Master of Education from Harvard University.

Albert Bellas is a founding partner of The Solaris Group, a wealth strategy and investment consulting firm specializing in foundations and non-profit institutions (schools, colleges, cultural institutions, and senior living). Albert was the Chairman/CEO of Neuberger Berman Trust Company, a member of the Management Committee of OFFITBANK, and a Senior EVP and Board member of Lehman Brothers Shearson. He graduated with a BA from Yale, a JD from University of Chicago and an MBA from Columbia.  He currently serves as Chairman of the Board and Investment Committee of the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Foundation, Director and Chairman of the Investment Committee of Guild Hall of East Hampton, Director of the American Friends of the Royal Ballet School (London), and a member of the Pilgrim Society.

William Kummel is a Principal of Rational Partners, a New York-based management consultant to independent schools and colleges in institutional economics, benchmarking and advancement. Bill holds an MBA and JD from Georgetown, a BA in Architecture from Yale and is a graduate of Phillips Academy as well as Buckley, Episcopal and All Souls of New York City. He is a recent presenter and roundtable participant to NAIS Commission on Accreditation (NAIS CoA), Enrollment Management Association, Friends Council on Education (FCE), Small Boarding Schools Association (SBSA).

Pete Zuraw is Vice President of Market Strategy and Development for Sightlines, a Gordian company and the leading provider of facilities planning, reporting, benchmarking and analysis to universities and colleges. Pete leads the company’s thought-leadership efforts and programming activities at professional conferences and events. Previously, he was the director of facilities and operations at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA and assistant director of facilities at Vermont College of Norwich University in Montpelier, VT.

Stephen Wells 
is a founding partner of The Solaris Group, a wealth strategy and investment consulting firm specializing in foundations and non-profit institutions (schools, colleges, cultural institutions, and senior living). He has over 48 years’ experience in the law, investments, mutual funds and charitable endeavors. Steve graduated from Phillips Academy Andover, has a BA from Princeton University and a law degree from New York University. He sits on several non-profit boards and is the Co-Chairman of the Board of St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children and its Foundation Board.

Schedule of Events


8:45 – 10:00: WELCOME and KEYNOTE ADDRESS - Institutional Strategy + Economics: An Integrated Approach to Program, Population and Philanthropy

10:15 – 11:30: CONCURRENT SESSIONS I - (Operating, Facilities, Endowment)

11:30 – 12:30: LUNCH

12:30 – 1:45: CONCURRENT SESSIONS II - (Operating, Facilities, Endowment)

2:00 – 2:45: Q&A + WRAP-UP  


INSTITUTIONAL STRATEGY + ECONOMICS: An Integrated Approach to Program, Population and Philanthropy

Presenters: William Kummel, Principal, Rational Partners; Michael Gary, Head of School, Friends Select School

Fifteen years from now, will your institutional choices be: more and better; comparable; or fewer and worse? Large forces challenge the traditional economic model of independent schools. For many schools, the current trajectory is likely to be fewer and worse. Why is this? How can this change?


Through the presentation we will:

  • Investigate actions to take in the next five years to ensure future choices.
  • Appraise market position, comparative advantage and financial performance.
  • Optimize market, educational and financial dynamics for near and long-term performance?
  • Explore full-pay domestic as keystone to program, population and philanthropy.

Michael Gary, Head of School at Friends Select School, will illustrate his years of working the issue. Kummel will provide an analytic framework and performance benchmarks. The Session will include extended Q&A.

Register Today!

Concurrent Breakout Sessions

INSTITUTIONAL ECONOMICS:  Establish and Sustain a Clear Operating Strategy and Economic Model

Presenter: William Kummel, Principal, Rational Partners

The traditional economic model of independent schools and colleges is highly stressed and getting harder.  Program revenue and expense doubled over 25 years in real terms.  Philanthropy dynamics frequently press endowment draw over target.  Core constituents seek clarity in institutional competitive advantage and outcome measurements.  Therefore, an effective, efficient and sustainable balance of resources to environment – effective positioning, a tight ship and efficient philanthropy – is critical.

Ultimately, institutions must establish and sustain a clear operating strategy and economic model for unique, meaningful education program, student population and philanthropic support.  Once successful, a school secures for itself: 

  • Unique market position
  • Material competitive advantage
  • Sustainable economics

This presentation provides three board-level tools to do so:  integrated roadmap, analytic methodology and performance benchmarks.  In this session, apply methodology and metrics to understand and secure for your school a near and long-term operating strategy and sustainable economic model.  Presentation includes benchmark data from 300 northeast independent schools and liberal arts colleges.

FACILITIES BENCHMARKING: Challenges and Strategies for Physical Asset Conservation

Presenter: Pete Zuraw, Vice President, Market Strategy & Development, Sightlines

Facilities are oftentimes an institution’s most valuable assets. However, few have the tools to strategically assess their performance much like they do for endowments or other financial resources. What may an institution do to improve the management of physical assets?

In today’s competitive private education marketplace, facilities need to be comfortable, safe, and support institutional mission. Campus facilities are an invaluable recruiting tool and your greatest financial asset. But as campuses age, deferred maintenance grows, programs evolve, and faculty and students expect even more.

Via rigorous benchmarking, analysis, and independent data collection, proprietary facility asset solutions make schools more cost-effective and efficient, prompting management and trustees to better fiscal decisions for critical campus infrastructure through superior operational and capital decisions.

Explore board-level opportunities to:

  • Bridge the disconnect between finance and facilities
  • Measure, monitor and benchmark physical asset performance
  • Use predictive analytics to reduce facilities risk

Through the session, understand the crucial role facilities benchmarking and analysis can play in optimizing investment and developing operating strategies for near-term and long-term physical asset conservation.

Register Today!


ENDOWMENT MANAGEMENT:  Balancing Your Endowments For Future Success

Presenters: Albert Bellas, Founding Partner, The Solaris Group (1st session); Stephen Wells, Founding Partner, The Solaris Group (2nd session)

Educational institutions need a comprehensive approach that integrates their endowment investment management policy with their current and future budgetary and capital project requirements over an extended time horizon.  This enhanced approach to endowment management provides institutions with an informed and disciplined decision-making model to better assess these opportunities and risks to meet their fiduciary challenges.  By expanding the concept of endowment to include their Physical Endowment, their Intangible Endowment as well as their Monetary Endowment they will have a clearer, less overwhelming roadmap to long-term viability.

The presentation will:

  • Broaden the definition of endowment assets.
  • Address the key financial challenges.
  • Identify crucial financial ratios and critical decision criteria.
  • Assess and rank institutional financial strength.
  • Establish criteria for project funding.
  • Introduce a four-step process for optimal endowment decisions.

As conservators of an institution’s heritage, management and boards can now model the course of their financial future with greater understanding and certainty with "What If" scenarios that help them test all options which would destroy long-term financial stability.

Register Today!