Albert Einstein had this to say about problem-solving: "You can never solve a problem on the same level on which it was created." In other words, the solution lies at a higher level. That is certainly the truth for many efforts in higher education, where overcoming administrative challenges? that are holding back student or institutional success or service is often about reaching for innovative solutions.
In some instances, the solution to the problem is an external one. With the IT department of one public university financially unable to create a new system to allow noncredit course takers to register and pay for classes online, purchasing software to handle the task has meant better service, as well as cost savings.
Sometimes greater efficiencies result from ditching an outside vendor in favor of an in-house system, as one institution did when a team on the campus developed a more accurate and user-friendly online registration system for distance learning. At the other end of the semester is the submission of course grades, and in this round of Models of Efficiency honorees is the story of a registrar's office that moved the grade-change process online to save money and time while reducing errors.
For an office at one university, simply building a better process for project management allowed staff to complete 75 percent more regular projects in 2010 compared to 2007, for an estimated cost savings of $75,000. Administrators at another institution are saving significant amounts of paper and time by using electronic versions of the approximately 200 forms used at the university.
In certain cases, saving resources can also be about helping to save the planet, as can be seen in the profile of a university whose Computer Recycling Center refurbishes older equipment and gets it back into use on campus.
Read on for the full stories of departments at six higher ed institutions that the University Business editorial team is honoring this summer as Models of Efficiency.