Our Models of Efficiency award-winners have already proven they can make better use of resources while simultaneously enhancing service. For most honorees, these innovations are the start of a process of continuous improvement that impacts the entire campus community.
See how three institutions used their efficiency initiatives as a springboard to greater positive change. To read more efficiency stories and to be considered in the future for a Models of Efficiency designation, visit www.universitybusiness.com/moe.
Originally honored: Fall 2010
The 5,000-plus students at the University of Houston’s C.T. Bauer College of Business were struggling to convey their qualifications to corporate recruiters. Thanks to honest feedback from hiring managers, administrators at Bauer’s Rockwell Career Center determined that student resumes were holding them back. They simply weren’t on par with the resumes from other area universities, putting Bauer students at a disadvantage.
A once-a-semester campus event was created to provide career counseling and help students prepare resumes. The fall installment, called the Resume ER, is complete with advisors in white lab coats, stethoscopes and IV bags. The resume workshops are held one to two weeks prior to campus career fairs.
In the spring, the event is called the Resume Round-up and held at the same time as the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. When first announced, the Resume ER attracted 300 students per semester, 95 percent of whom reported greatly appreciating the help.
The number of students seen each semester has risen from 300 over three days to 250 per day—reflecting a recognition that resume quality matters and that attending the campus event is “the easiest way to get a resume looked at by a hiring manager,” says Troy Hopkins, director of career counseling at the career center.
Higher quality resumes have led to increased recruiting. “We’ve been a lot more successful in getting employers to come out,” says Hopkins. Hiring managers frequently praise the students’ level of preparation and engagement.
Younger students are now coming in for resume renovations as they apply for internships. Students typically seek internships as juniors but Hopkins is seeing more freshmen and sophomores asking for assistance and, as a result, getting into the “pipeline” faster. By having students upload their resumes and ask for feedback, they are then in the career center’s system and can be more easily tracked. This helps during college and beyond.
“We know what about 85 percent [of graduates] are doing,” but the goal is 100 percent, Hopkins says.
Students now understand the importance of receiving resume help and the convenience of completing it at the campus events. The only downside: The events’ growth has increased demand for volunteers. Moving forward, Hopkins plans to cast a wider net for volunteers and to pursue sponsors to help cover production costs.
Originally honored: Winter 2013
Retention rates for students struggling academically have historically been low at LDS Business College in Utah. Only half of students placed on academic probation return the following year and less than one-third of that group is ultimately successful in completing school.
The college needed more resources to devote to struggling students but couldn’t afford additional employees. The solution? Reach out to the Salt Lake City community for volunteer mentors.
Five people stepped forward initially, in the winter of 2012, to work with the 10 percent of students on probation. There are now 10 mentors. And instead of attempting to supplement the academic advising staff, they are providing emotional support and encouragement that students may need more than tutoring, says Adrian Juchau, chief student services officer.
In fact, emotional and social struggles account for an estimated 40 percent of students’ challenges, and they impact academic success, he says. Being placed on probation “is not just about grade risk,” says Juchau.
The introduction of a new tracking tool has made mentors’ jobs a little easier. The college created an Excel spreadsheet containing information and updates about each student. That tool has since been streamlined as a part of the school’s LMS, which Brainhoney developed.
Advisors and mentors can type up meeting summaries, note upcoming advising appointments and record grades. Students can set goals, create education plans and take a success course, all online. The program has been expanded to newly-admitted students who have been identified as at-risk, as well as any student referred by faculty. The Student Development Team has introduced a tool that helps automate the referral process and provides feedback to the referrer as the student receives mentoring.
The percentage of students on probation who return the following year has increased from 50 percent to around 75 percent, thanks in good measure to the mentors’ influence. Even more important, of those who returned, three out of four have been taken off probation, a major increase from the 30 percent in years past.
Originally honored: Winter 2013
Initial efforts at Valdosta State in Georgia to improve the resolution of technical issues in computer labs showed extraordinary success. Within the first six months of providing additional training to student assistants stationed in computer labs, the number of technical issues that were identified and resolved rose 256 percent, from 647 to 1,661.
Given the success of its efforts to improve computer lab support using only existing resources, Valdosta expanded the program.
That expansion included the formation of a technical response unit (TRU), which supported the initiative by centralizing technology funding, says Joseph Newton, chief technology officer. Formerly, the annual fee paid by each student was divided among different departments that didn’t always use the funds for technology.
Armed with a larger budget, TRU is now implementing new systems to ensure that computer equipment stays operational and accessible. One of the first tasks is to install video cameras in 40 computer labs—each containing 12 to 15 computers—so the IT team can monitor labs remotely. Previously, students had to check IDs and safeguard equipment, but the addition of 40 access control card readers will help monitor lab usage and ensure users can get into the labs whenever buildings are open. (Students had complained when labs weren’t open, reports Newton.)
“We have a renewed emphasis on innovation on campus,” as well as optimization of resources, says Newton. Although the new equipment will cost an estimated $60,000, the school expects to save about $200,000 that can be re-directed to other priorities.
With the new equipment, student employees can be redistributed to other assignments. The department previously had 65 student assistants, but only 12 will be needed going forward, says Newton. With access to centralized funds, “we can hire full-time staff that is supplemented with student workers,” and provide better oversight of technology activities, says Newton.