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Articles: UB Archive

In his 2011 State of the Union message, President Obama proclaimed that the "first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation." The Bayh-Dole Act, which I co-sponsored with Senator Robert Dole in 1980, has done just that. I've watched with great interest as the Bayh-Dole Act has established our university technology transfer system as a model for the world by permitting universities, small businesses, and nonprofits to own and manage patentable inventions arising from research conducted in their labs using federal funds.

 

“How much does LEED cost”? University administrators and facilities directors across the country are grappling with the need to design and construct their buildings sustainably with all the obvious long-term benefits but within their “first cost” budget.

Higher education has its own special kind of bureaucracy, but even by those standards, the convoluted process by which Jamestown Community College (N.Y.) contracted with faculty members to teach extra courses stood out. From creation to submission with payroll, the documents touched more than half a dozen pairs of hands, sometimes delaying payment and increasing the likelihood of misplacement. They were created anew each semester with information from a database that wasn’t always updated, resulting in data entry errors.

The iTunes generation is used to buying music, watching television, and playing video games on screens perched in their laps, not going to record stores, student lounges, or mall arcades. Getting all of that information from faraway servers to laptop computers places an enormous burden on campus networking resources and IT departments, many of which are underfunded and understaffed, yet are expected to meet students’ expectations of ever quicker access to entertainment.

In these days of instantaneous communication, having to wait for an answer feels anachronistic. If our e-mail isn’t returned within five minutes, we call our colleague to make sure she got it. Technology, it seems, has sped communication as well as slowed it down, as multiple means of messaging?telephones, online channels, face-to-face conversation?crowd one another for attention.

An empty classroom became a call center staffed by students after two weeks of training. Now phone wait times are under two minutes.

Picture two overworked accounting clerks, their desks completely covered in paper register receipts, and an accounts payable manager who needs a wheeled hand cart to deliver 5,000 paper checks to the mail room for distribution to students so they could buy books for classes. This is what the business office at Macomb Community College (Mich.) looked like prior to 2008, before the start of classes, says Bobbie Remias, director of finance and investments.

Faced with a rising applicant population and the desire to continue to provide one-on-one attention to strong student candidates, officials at LIM College in New York City feared declining enrollment if they could not find a way to clone their four admissions counselors or completely revamp the counselors’ role. With the help of consultants from GDA Integrated Services, LIM (formerly known as the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising) managed to do both, in a manner of speaking.

Three of the most dreaded words in the English language are “financial aid application.” Parents hate it. Students fear it. And administrators try not to be overwhelmed by all the documentation associated with it.

The number and quality of personal relationships are frequently what drive college freshmen to remain at a particular college or university. The national average for freshmen retention is right around 75 percent, reports Brian Yates, executive director of the Center for Academic Support and Advising Services (CASAS) at Liberty University (Va.). And yet officials at Liberty, which had a freshman retention rate in line with the national average, felt they could do better.

Caught up in cloud fever, campus IT leaders across the nation have virtualized their server rooms. Having fewer servers didn't make the world come to an end; in fact, just the opposite happened. Staffers have more time to work on critical tasks and energy bills have gone down since IT departments aren't cooling massive data centers anymore.

Transfer used to be what happened when students realized too late that they picked a college or university that wasn't right for them. It wasn't until recently that the valuable market of transfer students has started being studied and really tapped into.

"For a while, transfers were kind of looked at as extra," says Bonita C. Jacobs, executive director of The National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students at the University of North Texas. Admissions offices began realizing they'd be left behind if they didn't start recruiting transfers.

On March 24, 2010, the day after President Obama signed sweeping health care reform legislation into law, Robert T. Kakuk's phone didn't stop ringing.

Employees were eager to add their adult children under the age of 26 back on to their health insurance policy, one provision of the Affordable Care Act, explains Kakuk, director of total compensation and human resources information systems at Western Michigan University, which supports approximately 2,800 benefits-eligible employees.

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