Articles: Operational Efficiencies

It doesn’t seem so long ago that colleges and universities were largely run as academic entities, unworried about growth and profit, and doing much of their administrative paperwork by hand or with outdated computer programs. Fast forward to 2013, and we believe the polar opposite to be true.

As we launch the fourth year of our Models of Efficiency recognition program, we are seeing lots of familiar names.

Freshman move-in day: It’s hot, you’re hauling boxes into your room, you hope you have a good roommate, you’re worried about your class schedule, you need to get to the bookstore to stock up on required reading, and on and on and on.

Miami Dade College is the largest and most diverse higher ed institution in the U.S., serving a community as large as the state of Rhode Island. It has 175,000 students and offers more than 300 academic degree programs.

Historically, all 26,000 annual applicants to Johnson County Community College (Kan.) received up to three printed communiqués regarding their admissions status.

For newly minted alumni poised to land their first job or continue their studies in grad school, few items are more important than the transcript. Proof that the work was done, the grade earned, and the degree awarded, the transcript serves as the institution’s stamp of approval.

The piece of paper. That’s what students are shooting for—a diploma, the tangible proof that they’ve met all requirements, completed the courses they had to complete, and graduated.

Who wants to wait for that?

University of Wisconsin-Stout graduates didn’t have any choice.

Despite a freeze introduced three years ago on full-time hiring, which was necessitated by statewide funding cuts to higher education, Miami Dade College still regularly hires part-time workers to fill support roles.

Until 2009, students at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College (N.C.) could wait as long as two hours to be seen by a counselor in student services, which includes the offices of admissions, advising, financial aid, and the registrar.

It costs much more to recruit new students than to keep the ones you have, which is why retention is so important to colleges and universities.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more paper-laden function than accounts payable. Receipts, invoices, check requests, purchase orders, contracts, and more keep A/P personnel knee-deep in forms and documentation.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have captured the headlines in higher education in the past year. These new platforms were developed to enable both open access and large scale participation in online courses.

Students imagine a number of outcomes when they enroll in a course of study, but the one that probably doesn’t occur to them is the possibility they’ll show up to class and find their college closed.

The idea of yet another administrative process doesn’t tend to sit well with college and university officials.

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