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Articles: Operational Efficiencies

LAWMAKER PERSUASION— Tim Tai, a University of Missouri student photojournalist, testified in support of the New Voices press freedom bill in higher ed during an April 2016 Missouri House of Representatives committee meeting. (Beatriz Costa-Lima)

Campus newspapers face many of the same challenges confronting the professional media—inconsistent readership, dwindling financial resources, and competition with bloggers and social media.

A Texas judge’s eleventh-hour injunction against a controversial labor regulation change has left more than 4 million U.S. workers, including thousands in higher education, in limbo. Scheduled to go into effect December 1, the so-called Overtime Rule would have made full-time employees earning less than $47,476 eligible for a pay raise or overtime pay.

IT Community Unity—At Cal Poly Pomona, AV harmoniously operates under the greater information technology department umbrella—which may well be because the CIO still allows AV to have autonomy. (Photo: Cal Poly Pomona/Tom Zasadzinski)

AV has been absorbed by the IT department on many college campuses. But is the situation more like a friendly merger or hostile takeover?

The trend started in the mid-2000s, when AV equipment joined the network and control moved to remote software suites. The transition put AV departments in constant communication with the IT teams that manage those networks—making the adoption of AV by IT a natural progression.

Through Laserfiche ECM, Virginia university gains efficiency in processing application materials

Students applying to the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia, traditionally would submit their required materials ... and wait. Admissions counselors would print the applications, supporting documents, labels and review sheets. Only after these papers were stuffed into manila folders were the counselors ready to notify a student that their application was received. Often, weeks would go by between the institution receiving the materials and the student being notified.

Robert A. Walton is CEO of the National Association of College Stores

In the pursuit of streamlined processes and reduced risk, a significant question is often overlooked: Do you want a store that reflects the personality and values of your campus or do you want a cookie-cutter corporate showroom, focused on selling products and making a profit?

Barbara Ross-Lee is VP for Health Sciences and Medical Affairs at New York Institute of Technology and  founding dean of NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University.

The U.S. may be short nearly 95,000 doctors within the next 10 years. That shortage is projected to be most acute in Southern states. In response, private medical schools—even institutions hundreds of miles away—are looking to open satellite locations on the campuses of public universities.

Higher education facility managers are under pressure to reduce operating expenses. This is part of a national trend for all non-academic departments to reduce overhead expenses in order to keep spending down and tuition stable and we’re seeing this trend among both private and public campuses.

As a facilities manager, you are probably asking yourself: “I’ve already reduced staff and contracts, and cut expenses to the bone.  How can I do more?”

As highly visible institutions with perceived “deep pockets,” colleges and universities are targets for lawsuits arising from injuries and property damage only tenuously tied to the schools’ actions. The negligence of contractors, vendors, and professional service providers can and do land universities in court where they pay millions of dollars to defend and settle claims — from simple slip-and-falls to sexual assaults to privacy claims arising from massive data breaches.

Administrators, faculty members and campus staff have been ordering all sorts of supplies from Amazon.com for years, but it was only recently that the e-tailing colossus jumped formally into the higher ed and business-to-business procurement market. And some in the procurement world see benefits ahead.

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.

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