I had a challenging year managing the finances at Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village, NV. The campus is a short walk from the north shore of Lake Tahoe at around 6.300 feet in elevation.
It was a year where the school weaned itself from the financial support provided by Michael Milken’s Knowledge Universe Learning Group (KULG).
Milken’s name should be very familiar to anyone in the world of finance. The former “junk bond king” served his time and re-emerged with a passion to improve society through education. He also beat what was diagnosed as terminal prostate cancer. He created a foundation devoted to fund research of treatments and cures for the disease. The foundation grew to become the largest single philanthropic source of funds dedicated to prostate cancer research.
Sierra Nevada College was cash-strapped before Milken stepped in. His efforts bought time for a new strategy to take hold. He attracted top-notch talent to serve on the board and in the administration.
The college officially ended its affiliation with Milken in 2011, in a position to rely on tuition revenue as the primary source of cash.
In my year as CFO, the operating margin improved by $1 million – from a deficit of $500K to a projected positive result of $500K (for the record, this is public information). There were several key individuals who played a role in the turnaround, but all of us had to succeed for the college to survive.
The strategy for success was simple – fiscal sustainability. Los Angeles should try it.
I left one last impression before I wrapped up business on the campus.
A photograph I shot is the backdrop for this postcard announcing the college’s new MFA program.
I took many pictures of the region, in all four seasons. This one was taken at Sand Harbor after a snowfall in January.