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University of Minnesota Board of Regents review efforts to improve efficiency and effectiveness

President Kaler announces enhancements to summer curriculum

February 8, 2013

Another step in University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler’s Operational Excellence initiative is unfolding. In its meeting today, the Board of Regents discussed the university’s hiring of Sibson Consulting at a cost of $48,000 to examine the university’s structure.

Sibson Consulting, a national strategic human resource consulting firm, will review the layers of administration from top to bottom and the number of employees that directly report to each supervisor. The purpose of the analysis is to  determine whether the U’s organizational structure can be simplified and effectiveness improved.

"In short, the analysis will answer the question: Does the University have the appropriate number of organizational levels and do managers at various levels oversee the proper number of people," Kaler explained.

The analysis is one piece of the U’s larger efforts to reorganize its human resources and other systems to become more efficient.

"This broad work will give the university additional data, tools and estimates for future cost savings so we can invest in our students, our mission and provide the high return on investment Minnesotans expect," Kaler said.

A preliminary spans and layers analysis will be included in a report to the Legislature on March 15, which will also contain a progress report on efforts to benchmark the university’s IT, HR, finance operations and purchasing costs against peer institutions. A request for proposal for the benchmark work will be issued soon.

Three-period plan
A year ago, Kaler asked a committee to examine how the university could better utilize university facilities and academic programs during the summer. It was determined that although a full summer calendar was not needed at this time, there are strategic opportunities to enhance the summer curriculum on the Twin Cities campus to provide greater access to students. Kaler informed Regents about the initial three-period strategy, which includes:

  • The launch of a pilot program in the College of Design in which two new undergraduate degree programs in Graphic Design and Retail Merchandising are adding three semester option, and the traditional four-year program will remain.
  • Ensuring that every category in Liberal Education Curriculum has one offering in the summer to enhance degree completion.
  • Starting in 2014, the summer curriculum will be standardized for most undergraduate courses to one seven-week term, from early June to late July.

Public engagement benefits Minnesota
University-driven collaboration to reduce health disparities, strengthen school success and build a far-reaching bioenergy system were among the public engagement activities discussed today.

Senior Vice President and Provost Karen Hanson and Andrew Furco, associate vice president for public engagement, highlighted the university’s ongoing commitment to public engagement and its nationally recognized initiatives to expand community-engaged partnerships across academic programs.

"Our faculty, staff and students are building partnerships to address critical social problems, whether through our Extension offices across Minnesota, community-based achievement gap initiatives, or global research partnerships focused on a broad range of issues—from food security to cures for advanced brain diseases," Hanson said. "Through these efforts, the public and our students derive a variety of benefits, and the university actively pursues its research, teaching and public service missions."

Collaboration with MnSCU
Board Chair Linda Cohen reported that she, Vice Chair David Larson and President Kaler met with their Minnesota State Colleges and Universities counterparts Chancellor Steven Rosenstone, MnSCU’s Board of Trustees Chair Clarence Hightower, Vice Chair Thomas Renier and Treasurer Michael Vekich to explore additional collaboration opportunities between the institutions.

"This was our second meeting in recent months and demonstrates our mutual commitment to ensuring that the U and MnSCU are working together to serve the higher education needs of Minnesotans," Cohen said.

Kaler and Rosenstone and their teams have been exchanging ideas and identifying areas for greater partnership including: smoother degree pathways and academic program coordination between the systems, stronger collaboration around strategic sourcing and procurement and joint information technology initiatives.

Support the U Day
More than 350 students from all five campuses attended the annual student-organized "Support the U Day" rally at the Capitol Rotunda Thursday to urge legislators’ support for the university’s budget request. The university’s Board of Regents and President Kaler joined students at the event.

Other Board news included:
Vice President for Research – Brian Herman was introduced by Kaler.
Financial analysis metrics – Chief Financial Officer Richard Pfutzenreuter presented the regents with a visual overview of the financial health and direction of the university. The "financial dashboard" provides a current snapshot and historical comparison about the institution’s financial performance, and provides an ongoing financial analysis tool.
•Better serving donors – The Regents ratified President Kaler’s approval of the University of Minnesota Foundation and the Minnesota Medical Foundation merger. The new University of Minnesota Foundation provides one voice for private giving at the U and ensures greater operational excellence in the administration of gifts, including solicitation, stewardship and asset management.
•Vision and direction of eLearning – Provost Hanson and Wendy Lougee, university librarian and McKnight Presidential Professor, discussed the university’s eLearning efforts and future direction, from enhanced or blended classrooms to fully online courses. The U’s eLearning strategy directly supports the university’s academic and institutional priorities by:

  • Improving undergraduate teaching and learning
  • Supporting increased graduation and retention rates
  • Providing graduate and professional students with alternative access to select post-baccalaureate programs

 •Alcohol policy amendment – The board amended its Alcoholic Beverages on Campus policy to permit the president to grant exceptions allowing alcohol promotion, marketing, advertising or sponsorships at non-university events. The change will help maximize the use of university facilities, including TCF Bank Stadium, as community event venues. Since many entertainment and music tours are sponsored by alcoholic beverage companies, this change provides an important revenue opportunity for the university.
•Combined heat and power plant – Regents approved schematic designs and a capital budget amendment to complete the nearly $95.9 million project by January 2016. The Minnesota Legislature allocated $10 million toward the project in 2012.

Twin Cities Campus: