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Articles: Operational Efficiencies

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.

To confront today’s financial challenges, every college and university needs to create more operational efficiency. Some of these efficiencies start in the business office.

For instance, key aspects of higher education financial management are paper-intensive and outdated —a stark contrast to the first-class technology used in campus classrooms. A primary target for business officers should be eliminating paper checks, which simply are not efficient -- in terms of money or time -- for vendor payments, student tuition refunds, or employee payroll.

The remodel of a dining hall at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro was going to displace more than 5,000 student mailboxes. While thousands of those mailboxes were used infrequently—having been abandoned in the age of email and social media—they couldn’t be discarded entirely because there were still care packages from mom and dad and the occasional Amazon order to deliver.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida

For years, new student orientation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida required the creation of information packets that were labeled with stickers and contained as many as 10 sheets of paper. The packets, which were prepared by Records and Registration staff with help from other departments, directed students to where they needed to go during orientation.

Streamlining the awarding and processing of student loans—Federal Perkins as well as institutional loans—began at the Illinois Institute of Technology with a simple question and a frustrating answer. “It started because I asked, ‘What is the process?’” recalls Jackie Anderson, associate director of student accounting. “No one really knew.”