You are here

Articles: Operational Efficiencies

There are options beyond operating a university-owned computer repair center. Outside repair companies operating on campuses can save universities money in technician salaries and center administration costs.

Best Buy’s Geek Squad, for example, has run centers on campuses. And the regional tech repair company that operates Harvard’s campus repair center is Micros Northeast.

As a frontline supervisor in Facilities Management, I often think about succession planning in our various organizations across the globe. I ask myself a lot of questions like; what would happen if our director won a million dollars or was offered that ultimate dream job? What would happen if our management team decided to relocate to other institutions? What is going to happen when the management decides to retire?

Oregon State is one of three universities to be governed by an independent board.

In a climate of declining state funding, Oregon higher ed policy leaders needed to bring in more resources while taking some of the burden off students. That’s why three of the state’s universities are breaking off from the Oregon University System. Effective July 1, Oregon State University, Portland State University and the University of Oregon will have their own boards.

Brian Slavinskas, Director of Special Projects, Loyola University

When as much as 80 percent of Loyola University's documents were in hard copy form, missing paperwork, unnecessary duplication, clutter and the never-ending need for more storage only made peoples' jobs inefficient and time consuming.

When the academic services office at the University of Oklahoma’s College of Arts & Science first deployed Laserfiche’s ECM technology, it had two initial business objectives for moving to a digital format: to protect student records against a natural disaster, and to serve its students in the most efficiently possible way.

The business value of any college or university lies in how effectively it serves its students through its ability to provide them with the support and resources needed to achieve their educational goals.

Establishing IT governance that effectively and securely manages all the organization’s information requires addressing four key areas—people, policy, technology and risk management.

Employing an assessment and relocation strategy consolidated the  number of locations with computers and printers on campus, but easier  access to the technology has increased usage.

Despite having 4,500 computers and dozens of printers deployed campuswide at Boise State University in Idaho, students had to wait in line to print out assignments and term papers during busy times.

CIO Max Davis-Johnson arrived in 2010, and officials began taking a closer look at how technology was being used, and where. Davis-Johnson uses the phrase “keeping score” to describe this process of tracking technology usage to ensure that every available asset is being productive for the university.

Technology-based exams are a good fit for the pharmacy school, which is housed in a $75-million, technology-rich facility that opened this fall.

After tripping over boxes of old exams at the College of Pharmacy at the University of Rhode Island for the umpteenth time, clinical faculty members Kelly Matson and Jayne Pawasauskas decided there had to be a better system.

Since exams are required to be kept for two semesters, the amount of paper used and boxes needed to store them at the institution became unwieldy. Add to that the amount of time needed to photocopy exams, the money spent on paper and toner cartridges, and the negative impact on the environment.

Merging departments and cross-training employees reduced the campus “run-around” and eased staff burden.

Delivering student services as important as tutoring, disability assistance, and advising is especially vital at LDS Business College, an open-enrollment school whose student body often faces hardships.

Yet the offices and departments that delivered those services were located all across campus, making it difficult to ensure that students made it to where they needed to go when they had multiple issues to be addressed.

Volunteer mentors assisting students academically is part of a three-pronged approach to helping at-risk students and boosting retention.

Not so long ago, students at LDS Business College in Salt Lake City whose semester grade-point averages fell below a certain level were placed on academic probation. But it did very little to get them the help they needed.

Like virtually every other administrative unit in higher education, the Information Technology Division at Valdosta State University in Georgia employed students to supplement the efforts of full-time staff. They were deployed in about 50 classrooms and computer labs across campus, where they helped monitor the use of nearly 1,500 desktop computers.

Assessing staffing issues a year ago, administrators realized that expectations for those students were set by the individual departments each classroom and lab served.

Most college students have a need for academic or financial aid counseling at some point during their college career, whether to get help with course selection or to sort through GI Bill paperwork. Any of the 600 students at Wayland Baptist University’s Phoenix campus in need of this help used to have to spend a fair amount of time just setting up such a meeting.

Identifying niche services, including an Apple store, increased campus store sales by more than 3 percent, even with lower overall enrollment  at the university this year compared to last.

Just as sales in the publishing industry have been declining, the University of Southern Indiana (USI) Campus Store, in Evansville, has seen sales fall an average of 10 percent per year the last few years.

With new and used book sales accounting for 60 percent of revenue in the store, Steve Bridges, assistant vice president for finance and administration, and his team knew something had to be done.

With key performance indicators published online, anyone can eyeball the improvements the IT department has made.

The explosion of technological devices, software, and apps has been undeniably beneficial to higher education, but there is at least one group on which it has placed quite a burden: those charged with keeping all of that technology running smoothly.

“Technology support is a challenge no matter where you are,” says Chris Megill, associate director of technology services at The George Washington University (D.C). “Keeping up with trends and user demands as they adopt more and more technologies can be quite a challenge.”