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Articles: Operational Efficiencies

Say cheese: Most University of Alabama students avoid waiting in line at the Action Card office for an ID by submitting their application online. For anyone unable to access that system or who needs a replacement card, the office is ready to assist.

Regardless of the size of the staff or office, efficient campus card programs share several best practices: A focus on customer service, cutting-edge technology and collaboration with the campus community and beyond.

Effective card offices focus on bottom-line growth. “Two of the benefits we bring to our campus are cost reduction and revenue growth,” says John Beckwith, director of campus business services at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

For instance, before its single-card program launched in 1997, the campus had seven different cards for students to use, with separate ones for ID, library, transportation, event tickets, food services, laundry and room entry.

What aspects of customer service do campus card offices seem to do best with—and in what areas do they struggle the most? 

Health insurance, along with everything from faculty recruitment to information technology, is one of the emerging areas of shared services that regional consortia are now tackling. Their success in saving money and improving efficiencies has fueled a wave of new collaborations.

Colleges or universities looking to join a higher education consortium have two major options: alliances that are regionally based or those focused on a common goal.

Schools that choose to participate in a regional consortium have the advantage of being able to easily meet with other members to discuss common issues.

Here are some reasons to switch to a passive optical network. (Click to enlarge graphic)

Unlike wine or cheese, networks don’t tend to improve with age. That’s why some higher ed institutions are looking toward passive optical LAN—unlike copper cabling that’s been in place for decades, a fiber-based passive optical network offers faster, cheaper and more secure networks.

At Juniata College in Pennsylvania, students took Arabic for the first time last fall by enrolling in a course at Gettysburg College via video conference.

Amherst College students, meanwhile, can major in architectural studies by taking classes at four neighboring colleges. And at Cabrini College near Philadelphia, students from five institutions researched viruses last summer in a new undergraduate science program.

Creating new academic initiatives with other institutions relies on three key ingredients: interest in the program from faculty and students; commitment from each campus administration; and a reasonable opportunity for success.

This advice comes from Neal Abraham, a physics professor and executive director of the Five Colleges, Incorporated in Massachusetts. It’s the second largest consortia in the country behind the Claremont University Consortium in California.

Here are some other tips from consortia leaders:

At Touro University Worldwide, we are always looking to improve our online learning programs, including leveraging third-party providers that complement our competitive advantages by supporting us in growing our online degree programs and providing unique auxiliary student services that are learner focused.

A more centralized approach to course scheduling at Somerset Community College has increased the rates of filled classroom seats and helped students fit in the courses they need to graduate on time. Between 2008 and 2014, the average seat-fill rate has increased by 24 percent and the average student credit load has increased by 48 percent.

Students don’t quite run the show when it comes to course scheduling. But colleges and universities are striving to make it easier for them—with their ongoing juggle of work, family and school commitments.

Digital signage has come a long way in the last decade, and is increasingly utilized in higher education. Universities are an ideal place for digital signage, offering a variety of different venues for unique content including dining facilities; faculty and staff offices; faculty, staff, and student lounges; health clinics; gymnasiums or sporting arenas; theaters; classrooms; and student residence halls.

In the movie The Perfect Storm, a group of intrepid fisherman found themselves in the midst of a colossal and historic storm—a true worst case scenario. Deluged by the overpowering surf, the ship goes down with all hands on deck.

Thirty years ago, we knew that larger institutions would consume smaller, more fragile schools - pure mergers as they came to be known. Yet, during the early higher ed merger mania era, many found that consolidations of venerable institutions offered a creative and more equitable non-merger alternative – read as, Azusa Pacific University, Birmingham-Southern College, Carnegie Mellon University, Carson-Newman University, Case Western Reserve University, Clark Atlanta University, University of Detroit Mercy, and William and Hobart Smith Colleges.

The editors of UB magazine proudly present the 2016 Readers’ Choice Top Products, chosen from hundreds of nominations. This annual award programs alerts higher ed administrators and staff to the best products their peers use to achieve excellence at institutions throughout the country.

You—the nation’s higher ed leaders—submitted testimonials throughout 2015. Our editorial board carefully narrowed the list based on the quality and quantity of these testimonies.

One way to encourage bicycle use on campus is to make it easy for riders to meet up. At Westminster College, mechanics are on hand to assist with repairs and maintenance in a do-it-yourself bike shop, part of a student-run bicycle collective.

In the last few years, new parking technology has allowed colleges and universities to upgrade systems and infrastructure. Yet higher ed officials are still mapping out the connections between parking operations, campus fleets and overall sustainability.

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