One of our favorite higher education writers, Stephen G. Pelletier, takes on a big-picture look at the evolution of institutional revenue streams (PDF). He's writing in Public Policy, the magazine of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).

"One university bought a conference resort. Another is building biomass facilities that generate energy. Yet another might expand its renowned food service operation to also serve other institutions.

Three different institutions, three quite different activities. Look beyond the differences, though, and several common themes emerge. Each activity can generate revenue. Each is fundamentally entrepreneurial. And none is predicated on state funding.

In the greater landscape of public colleges and universities, these three activities may be exceptions that prove a rule. Certainly not every AASCU institution could or should buy a hotel, build a biodigester or franchise its food service. Still, these three examples underscore an emerging principle of the “new normal,” which is that today, every public college and university needs to think anew—and broadly, creatively and entrepreneurially—about how to generate income."