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Articles: Operational Efficiencies

When you think about the blinding pace of technological change, it’s a wonder the University of Iowa’s student information system worked for as long as it did.

More than 30—yes, 30—years old, Iowa’s SIS was less an integrated series of data processing functions and more a collection of individual siloed systems that didn’t work very well together. Because the underlying technology and architecture were so old, enhancements were difficult. Data were redundant and difficult to synchronize. And manual, paper-based processes frustrated users.

Administrators in the IT department at the University of Ottawa help get staff in other business units excited about CRM by explaining its benefits. (Photo: Sang Trinh)

Vanderbilt University’s medical school is among the best in the country, but its officials still wanted to create awareness of it with prospective students—those who are only in high school.

The undergraduate admissions office had deployed a constituent relationship management (CRM) system, but university officials knew from the outset that the system could be used across campus to share information and target students for specialized programs.

In her 2014 State of the University of New York Address, Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher launched Open SUNY, a systemwide distance learning consortium. Over the near term, it will reduce the time it takes to complete a degree, course or certificate.

What is especially distinctive about Open SUNY is that it is one of the largest and most complex statewide public university systems in the US. By creating this multipronged approach to sharing distributed learning , Open SUNY has reduced the time it takes to complete a degree - which typically lowers the cost of instruction.

Since UB’s Models of Efficiency program launched in 2010, more than 100 campus departments have been honored for their efforts in saving resources while enhancing service. We’ve shared their initiatives, but with efficiency stories, there is no “The End.” This year, we will periodically check in with past honorees to catch readers up on the institutions’ latest, greatest efficiency successes.

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.

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