Thomas Edison, America's most prolific inventor, once explained his passion for innovation by saying, "There's always a better way." That's the spirit, if not the directive, for the campus departments profiled in the first round of 2011 Models of Efficiency honorees. When it comes to finding ways to streamline business processes or save time and money, the stories you'll read on the following pages will, we hope, inspire you and your department to look for your own ways to better serve constituents.
Take, for example, the east coast institution facing an obsolete and severely overburdened network, along with a system-crippling virus. The school turned to an outside vendor to maintain its residential network. As a result, administrators saved an estimated $500,000 that would have been spent on equipment upgrades and technical support. The vendor upgrades its equipment as needed, provides greater security, and keeps information flowing.
Or, consider the admissions department at another institution that found a way to save $25,000 in supplemental labor costs by modifying its existing software package to enable students to upload their own unofficial transcripts with their application. The change meant the department wouldn't have to hire seasonal support staff to wade through incomplete applications, or wait for missing information to arrive. That back-and-forth, which might previously have taken as long as a month, can now often be done the same day.
For further proof, look to the school that launched a program to "deputize" a team of students as early stage admissions counselors. The students field routine admissions calls, answering questions about academic programs, campus life, and activities. This allows the professional admissions counselors to devote their time to students who are about to make the important decision about where to attend school. The arrangement not only saves time, but it is also the first step in establishing relationships that can lead to enrollment.
These and other current Models of Efficiency honorees were again evaluated and selected by the University Business editorial team.