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Articles: Operational Efficiencies

Since 1995, the University of Alabama has issued electronic debit and ID cards, called Action Cards, to its students. These personalized, chip-and-magnetic-stripe plastic cards provide students with access to buildings and events, meals in the dining halls and spending money for on- and off-campus retailers. The cards also have a photo on the front for visual identification.

Located in Myrtle Hall, the Pratt Institute’s Bursar and Financial Aid offices have taken a holistic approach to serving students.

Managing personal finance is difficult enough for working professionals. For college students, it can be almost impossible. Part of the reason is that there are multiple finance-related aspects to higher education, and they have different, often confusing languages, says Nedi Goga, executive director of student financial services and compliance at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.

Digitized recordkeeping streamlines processes for staff working in Admissions and Records while also providing students with access to forms at any time.

Higher education administrators looking to increase efficiency frequently cite document management as a major roadblock. Even so, the numerous flaws in the system used by the College of the Desert’s admissions and records department went beyond the typical woes.

University of Montana gave Pinecone Awards as part of the web template project launch, with awards given to staffers in categories such as best user experience and most innovative.

Faced with increased competition for students and declining enrollment, the University of Montana centralized the oversight of its web presence to create a unified look and feel across all of its websites. The use of new templates reduced reliance on outside design firms, cut costs, helped meet accessibility compliance, and increased the pace at which new sites were created.

Executives from Central State U, Wright State U, Clark State Community  College and Xerox are working to perfect the campus printing process.

Wright State University invested significantly in printing equipment only to see demand decline. That lead administrators to overhaul the Ohio institution’s entire printing system. They switched to a variable pay-per-print model based on volume and relying on one supplier to manage all its equipment.

Applicants with dreams of attending Portland State now learn the outcome of their applications at least two weeks earlier than before.

Applications from prospective Portland State University students and all supplementary materials are captured electronically and automatically routed for processing. This digital record keeping continues as students matriculate. Integration with Banner gives admissions counselors and others the ability to view student records without touching a single piece of paper.

In two short years, Western Iowa Tech Community College upgraded from generic paper-based admissions packets to a personalized packet to online microsites tailored to each prospective student’s needs and interests. Besides achieving higher application rates, the new MyHub program is saving on paper, printing and mailing.

UBThrive sessions will focus on key themes of growth and organizational structure as they relate to executive leadership, the student experience, operational efficiency and finance.

Anyone on campus interested in learning how to launch innovative programs around student and institutional success will want to attend UBThrive, a conference launching in 2015. From June 15 to 17 in Orlando, higher ed leaders will have the opportunity to hear from peers who are creatively fostering success on campus.

More institutions are creating energy conversation plans that cover the entire campus rather than just individual buildings.

Conservation on campus is about saving money and electricity at a time of lagging state funding and soaring global demand for power. Colleges with successful energy sustainability programs have combined mechanical improvements with campaigns to get their communities to adopt new behaviors.

The University of Baltimore set clear sustainability goals when it began planning its new law school building.

“It had to be [LEED] Platinum, but it also had to be an environment that would be exciting for staff and students to spend days and late nights studying in,” says Nebeye Sertsu, vice president for facilities management and capital planning. “We embedded in the design how we interact with students, how we represent the city and how we talk about our campus to prospective students.”

Expanded use of technology is at the core of most winning Models of Efficiency initiatives.

Implementation of new technology is at the core of most winning initiatives in UB's Models of Efficiency program. At many colleges and universities, there is a domino effect across campus, heightening interest in expanding those programs. Here are three institutions that are expanding and integrating their award-winning initiatives.

There exist an endless number of articles, books, blogs, and interviews on the state of higher education (HE) in America. The themes are consistent – fewer resources, fewer students, bloated administrative staff, less affordability, unsustainable student debt, poor graduation rates, unimpressive employability skills and what the heck is a MOOC and why should I care.

Once again this July, recent Models of Efficiency honorees were recognized during the NACUBO conference at an awards dinner hosted by Higher One, the program’s sponsor. This year, award recipients were honored at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Seattle.

Casey McGuane, chief operations officer at Higher One, and Daniel Kinnaman, publisher of University Business, introduced the award recipients and summarized the projects for which they were recognized.

Despite technology’s critical role in higher ed, there remains a gap between central IT and the rest of campus that can lead to unnecessary spending.

Our Models of Efficiency award-winners have already proven they can make better use of resources while simultaneously enhancing service. For most honorees, these innovations are the start of a process of continuous improvement that impacts the entire campus community.

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