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Articles: Operational Efficiencies

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.

Mona Aldana-Ramirez, director of retention services, San Antonio College

Just when Mona Aldana-Ramirez thought she had all the answers, they kept changing the questions. The director of retention services at San Antonio College had to spearhead the implementation of a new enrollment program while fielding thousands of student requests for clarification. But every time she trained a few of her 20-person part-time staff, the enrollment process would change, and she would have to go out and retrain.

In 2008, the IRS sent 400 questionnaires to colleges and universities. From that sample, 40 were selected to be audited and 34 of those audits have been completed. Here's what the IRS found and what it means to you.

For a school to operate at peak efficiency—and best serve students—it is necessary for various administrative departments to understand the purpose and daily operations of other offices. In particular, the activities and regulations that impact the financial aid office can have widespread effects on the rest of the campus. With that in mind, here are 10 tips to help all departments work cohesively with the financial aid office:

Our fascination with numbers stems from our faith that numbers are more precise than words. But journalists and public officials too often use numbers that are so simplified as to be misleading. The quick numbers on low salaries and high unemployment rates for liberal arts graduates, for example, suggest the opposite picture from what the details reveal. That is, new liberal arts graduates may earn less at first than classmates who majored in professional fields, but over time this gap closes. These glib statistics reveal more informative patterns just below the surface.

Each year during the NACUBO conference in July, Models of Efficiency honorees are recognized at an awards ceremony hosted by Higher One, the program’s sponsor. This year, six of the most recent award recipients were honored at Mo’s Steakhouse in Indianapolis.

Casey McGuane, chief operations officer at Higher One, and JD Solomon, editorial director of University Business, introduced the award recipients and summarized the projects for which they were honored.

Ivy Tech Community College (Ind.) had a classic good news-bad news problem. The good news was that interest in the 31-campus, statewide institution was burgeoning. The bad news was that budget belt-tightening was limiting the ability of staff to tend to the growing attention needed by prospective students while also responding to the needs of current students.

Until recently, LDS Business College in Salt Lake City focused its career preparation resources on the typical strategies. Career Services’ two counselors prepared 2,200 students for post-college job searches. They helped students craft résumés, write cover letters, and practice interviews through career prep courses and in-person appointments.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Looking to reduce the cost of preparing the massive, paper-filled binders used by its board members at their meetings, Walsh College (Mich.) officials tried a laptop-based package. That cut down on paper, but the hardware was problematic.

Texas A&M Health Science Center is responsible for ensuring the safety and security of its faculty, staff, and students on eight campuses. Educating and informing the community regarding how to best respond to emergency situations—such as chemical spills, man-made emergencies, or natural disasters—was historically done through printed materials and the center’s website.

Automating admissions has made accepts,  defers, declines, and deposits move faster at Royal Roads University.

For over a decade, potential Royal Roads University (British Columbia) students have been able to submit their applications for admission online. But Royal Roads’ response to applicants had remained paper-based until recently.

One of the most sought-after nonsalary compensation items offered by higher education is full or partial tuition benefits for employees and their families. Free and reduced-cost degrees go a long way toward easing the impact of nonprofit salaries.

American Public University System (W.Va.) offers varying levels of such tuition benefits based on employee status. But the institution’s formerly manual registration process was ill-equipped to distinguish between different registration types, creating problems when it came to reporting, scholarship applications, and payment.

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