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Articles: Operational Efficiencies

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.

Typically, an Office of Sponsored Research operates with limited staff while being taxed with an overwhelming workload of grant management activities. A handful of staff is often responsible for pre- and post-award administration, effort certification, detailed budget tracking, documenting encumbrances and expenditures, reporting and meeting federal mandates.

To address these challenges, smart organizations streamline the grant management process. Offered here are seven specific habits typically put into place by an effective Office of Sponsored Research.

Mary Ellen Mazey is president of Bowling Green State University.

Much has been written about the future role of the traditional university. In the traditional higher education model, the need to adapt to the future pressures of competition and demographics will be necessary for survival of many small private colleges and numerous public institutions.

Working together, campus buyers and facilities staff can ensure that dollars for equipment needs are wisely spent.

Who would ever think that replacing simple lightbulbs could end up costing a university hundreds of thousands of dollars? Or that a piece of equipment destined for a building’s basement could nearly cause the destruction of an exterior wall, with an associated price tag in the tens of thousands of dollars, because the system was too large to fit through a doorway and too heavy to ride on an elevator?

The authors were the founders of Touro University International (TUI), which at first was an online branch of Touro College and later became a separately accredited university by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. TUI remained within the Touro College and University System from 1998 to 2007. It was then sold and became a stand-alone, for-profit university, currently known as Trident University International. During its nine years of operation within the Touro System, TUI generated more than $270 million dollars in net earnings.

A fresh look: When the library at Grand Valley State U was remodeled, useable furniture got new life on other parts of campus rather than being placed into storage.

Furniture asset management has been a big efficiency win for institutions. Facilities managers say inventory tracking, storage, and reusing or repurposing every piece of furniture an institution owns are keys to the process.

The University System of Georgia has worked to combine several more of its higher education institutions this year in what is likely the nation’s most aggressive and high-profile campus consolidation program.

Around the country, institutions are merging at a slower pace, with some proposed consolidations collapsing under backlash from students and other community members.

Every day when an employee resigns from their job, either voluntarily (or involuntarily) they’re “walking out the door” with a very valuable asset. No these instances don’t require security or are considered criminal in nature. What they leave with is their institutional knowledge or memory from their last organization. This is what happens to an organization loses its best, brightest, most experienced and knowledgeable employees. What do they take with them, and what do we lose? Part of it is the organization’s institutional knowledge or history.

Course scheduling is tied integrally to two of an institution’s most expensive resources—facilities and faculty.

Course scheduling is tied integrally to two of an institution’s most expensive resources—facilities and faculty. Managing schedules involves more than just cracking a complex logistical code each semester—it’s also a potential bane or boon to the operating budget.

Appalachian State University (N.C.): Policy says that faculty should generally not be paid extra for teaching courses on top of normal course loads. It mentions making other arrangements, such as a course reduction the following semester.

California State University: Overload assignment may not exceed 25 percent of a full-time position.

Bill Berg is an enrollment management consultant at Scannell & Kurz, a RuffaloCODY company.

The often-used businesses term “right-sizing” has in recent years become common in higher education. Though sometimes used as a euphemism for “downsizing,” it more rightly refers to an effort to optimize enrollment, human resources, programs and facilities—in other words, fixed costs.

There are a host of factors that should go into the analysis when an institution is attempting to match demand with its capacity to meet that demand.