Task forces aim to reduce costs, enhance revenue
To continue the momentum of U-M's cost containment efforts, five task forces of faculty and staff will explore areas where the university can further reduce costs or enhance revenue.
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Teresa Sullivan and Vice Provost for Academic and Budgetary Affairs Philip Hanlon announced formation of the task forces in an e-mail to deans, directors and department chairs on Aug. 18. They wrote: "U-M faces unprecedented uncertainty around the state appropriation, and this effort is part of our ongoing strategy to prepare our institution in these times of economic distress."
The university has been engaged in a disciplined program of strategic cost containment initiatives since 2002.
"These initiatives have been highly successful and have so far helped us avoid the devastating cuts occurring at many other universities," noted Sullivan and Hanlon. "We continue to improve our efficiency through consolidation of our major information technology units, central scheduling of classrooms, and revised travel and hosting guidelines, which will be rolled out in the coming months. We can and must do more."
The topics to be explored by the task forces emerged from the deliberations of the Prudence Panel, convened last fall by the Provost's Office, and were refined further at a special deans' retreat in June. The task forces and their chairs are:
Expansion of Spring/Summer Instruction
Enrollments in the Spring/Summer semesters traditionally have lagged behind Fall and Winter semester. This group will propose two or three options for increasing Spring/Summer enrollment and will develop comprehensive plans to implement each option.
Expansion of Spring/Summer course offerings could provide many benefits, including:
• Increasing utilization of instructional space between May 1 and Aug. 31, when typically many classrooms are idle.
• Providing students more flexibility in scheduling classes.
• Enhancing revenue by increasing overall enrollment.
Non-traditional Education Programs at U-M
U-M has much to offer public education in addition to credit-bearing courses for our traditional student body. The popular Saturday Morning Physics program is one example. The task force will recommend programs that the university might develop to deliver non-credit bearing educational experiences that will extend U-M's public outreach and generate revenue.
Among the assets U-M could bring to such an endeavor are:
• The intellectual expertise of faculty, students and research staff.
• Classrooms and other facilities that are available during the Spring/Summer semesters and in the evenings during the Fall and Winter semesters.
• A large and successful group of alumni, many of whom seek enhanced ties to U-M.
• Outstanding libraries, museums, gardens and performance venues.
Marketing U-M to Non-resident Undergraduate Applicants
U-M has long been a popular choice for academically strong students from other states. For these students, who through their diverse backgrounds and perspectives enhance the learning experience of the entire community, U-M largely competes with elite private universities and some highly regarded public universities. These institutions are more aggressively recruiting the same students that the U-M would like to attract. For example, several elite private universities have announced significant and highly publicized enhancements to their financial aid packages.
If U-M is to continue to successfully compete for top out-of-state students, it must find creative ways to expand and improve the non-resident applicant pool and encourage those who are admitted to accept U-M's offer. The task force will address this complex recruiting challenge and suggest ways to ensure U-M remains the school of choice for out-of-state students.
Creative Staffing and Shared Services
For the past several years, a number of campus units, particularly smaller ones, have been exploring ways to share services and staffing. Units that already are progressing in this area include LSA, the Medical School's basic science departments and offices within the Fleming Building, which share IT staff and this summer are expanding into other functional areas, including human resources, finance and basic clerical services. The goal is to deliver higher quality services at lower costs.
The Creative Staffing and Shared Services task force has been asked to examine all major administrative service areas, including finance, human resources, student services, development, facilities, marketing and communications, and clerical support, to look systematically at creative approaches through shared service opportunities in academic units.
Best Practices for Centers and Institutes
This task force's objective is to identify best practices that allow different kinds of centers and institutes successfully to achieve their missions and operate efficiently.