Knox College authorized a withdrawal from the endowment last June to fund strategic cost saving or revenue-generating initiatives proposed by students, faculty and staff.
According to Vice President and Chief Information Officer Steve Hall, the college’s senior staff wanted to open up a pathway to the community and encourage new innovative ideas that would produce revenue, increase savings or increase productivity. The staff settled on creating the Innovate Knox Initiative, a grant that would fund these potential projects.
“The college struggles financially and we’re always looking for ideas to help address that issue. It can’t always be cut, cut, cut – we’re gonna cut expenses, we’re gonna cut, cut, cut,” Hall said. “I’ve heard it said many times that you can’t cut your way to a great college. From time to time, you’ve got to step back and fund ideas and initiatives and grow into your budget instead of constantly reducing your budget.”
Hall was reluctant to give an exact number for the grant because the college does not want to limit the creativity of the proposed ideas.
“If someone came up with a really big idea for a half a million dollar investment that would turn into two million dollars in revenue every year, we’re certainly not going to turn them away,” Hall said. “If we got a two million dollar investment idea that was really going to turn out, I tell ya, we’d find the money. We’d figure out a way to do it.”
Hall emphasized that the project proposals can come from anyone in the Knox College community, including students, faculty and staff. According to him, the college does not want to limit where the projects come from and encourages people to submit their ideas.
“I’m really excited about it, because it doesn’t limit who [the ideas] come from. I’ve worked here for 25 years and have gotten good ideas about technology from a lot of different places,” Hall said. “Good ideas can percolate from any place, and that’s the whole idea, that it will open it up to the whole community.”
So far, the staff has received only a few proposals, but Hall hopes to see more as the due date nears. The submitted projects will be reviewed by Feb. 2.
“A lot of times you have to make an investment to generate revenues,” Hall said. “We just didn’t want to wrap a lot of rules around it, because we didn’t want to discourage anyone from participating.”