UMass Boston

Beacon Budget Model

A collaborative model for university budgeting and revenue distribution.


What is the Beacon Budget Model?

The Beacon Budget Model (BBM) is a hybrid form of Activity-Based Budgeting (ABB) for UMass Boston that distributes revenues and budget authority from instructional and research activities, which are then allocated directly to the unit responsible for the activity.

The university will distribute revenues to schools and colleges using ABB principles, which means these funds are not distributed at the departmental level, but rather, each dean determines how to allocate funds within their school or college.

Why this model?

BBM provides improved transparency and predictability around the budgeting process. Subsidies are deliberate rather than historical or accidental, and they can be better forecasted and strategically managed.

The Beacon Budget Model is:

  • A budget tool designed to provide more transparency and predictability in managing and allocating revenue and expenses year-over-year.
  • Driven by guiding principles developed in consultation with UMass Boston deans, faculty, and staff.
  • Designed to better support achievement of the University’s strategic goals, in particular, meeting our core mission requirements of teaching, research, and service.
  • A data-informed model that helps systematically advance institutional priorities.
  • Built to incentivize the innovation, new initiatives, and growth that are needed to advance the instructional, research, and community engagement needs of our students, faculty, staff, and community partners.
  • A tool that enables greater local decision-making and accountability in setting unit-level priorities and understanding costs and benefits of planning that is balanced by central coordination and oversight.
  • A process that retains opportunities to plan collectively and invest in priorities that enhance the common good.

The Beacon Budget Model is not:

  • A pure activities-based model—rather it is a hybrid that better balances decentralized and centralized planning and decision-making.
  • A solution for any structural deficit, nor does it insulate the university from future fiscal challenges.
  • A way to add or subtract revenue or expense from what the university is required to support in order to operate.
  • A tool to completely decentralize the allocation and management of resources.

Guiding Principles

  • Support UMass Boston’s values-driven mission by strategically aligning resources with student success, high-impact research, and community-engaged service​.
  • Leverage action-oriented allocation rules and give leadership the flexibility to address unit-level performance in funding decisions, while supporting diversity across academic disciplines and administrative units​.
  • Ensure processes and corresponding allocation rules are data-informed, clear, and sustainable to systemically advance institutional priorities.​
  • Facilitate increased shared authority by encouraging autonomy and flexibility with transparent multi-directional accountability​.

Model Structure

BBM organizes the structure of the university into academic, research, and service centers (ARS centers) and support units. The ARS centers include the colleges, schools, centers, institutes, and auxiliary units that generate revenue through instruction, research, and/or other forms of self-generated funding. Support units do not directly generate revenue to cover their expenses, but instead they provide the core, shared services that support and enable the University to function and serve its academic mission. This organization is reflected below:

ARS Centers

  • College of Education and Human Development
  • College of Liberal Arts
  • College of Management
  • College of Science and Mathematics
  • Manning College of Nursing and Health Sciences
  • School for the Environment
  • Free-Standing Centers and Institutes
  • Revenue Based Operations

Support Units

  • Academic Support (Provost, Research, SEAS, Healey Library, Graduate Studies, Honors College)
  • Student Services (Athletics, Student Affairs, Enrollment Management, Public Safety, University Health Services)
  • University Central Support (Information Technology, University Advancement, Administrative and Fiscal Operations (A&F, Budget, Controller), Marketing and Engagement, Human Resources, Chancellor’s Office, President’s Office central charges)
  • University Physical Plan (Facilities and Debt Service)


The shift to BBM will be implemented over multiple years. The initiative started in FY22, and a parallel budget process will continue for FY24 and FY25 and include the traditional incremental budget process as the primary method while testing and evaluation of BBM occurs at the same time. This will provide units with the ability to see what the model looks like, test how different levers may impact an individual unit’s fiscal picture, determine, and provide what training might be necessary, and inform important factors for full-scale implementation. 

Steering Committee

  • Joseph Berger, Provost & Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
  • Christine Brenner, Associate Professor for Public Policy & Public Affairs
  • Robin Cote, Dean for the College of Science & Math
  • John Drew, Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management
  • Chris Giuliani, Associate Vice Chancellor for Administration & Finance
  • Laura Hayden, Interim Dean & Associate Professor for CEHD - Dean's Office
  • Kathleen Kirleis, Vice Chancellor for Administration & Finance
  • Mya Mangawang, Vice Provost
  • Tom Miller, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Administration & Finance Services
  • Surjit Tinaikar, Associate Professor for Accounting & Finance



For further information or questions regarding the Beacon Budget Model, please contact