The plan to initiate a thorough study of how to bring about more efficiency and effectiveness in Kansas University’s effort to provide a superior academic research experience for its students, and for the benefit of the state, is a worthy and timely project.
KU officials recently announced they have signed a $2 million-plus contract with Huron Consulting Group to conduct a study to bring about “resource optimization and organizational transformation in higher education” ... how to save money, take advantage of current facilities, eliminate or change inefficient operations, how to generate more revenue and making those changes, which will result in a better, more efficient institution.
Apparently no facet of the university will be off base for the consultant’s investigators. Every part of the school’s operation will be examined, whether relative to potential revenue improvements, to cost cutting possibilities, maintenance techniques, student services, the operation of the athletics program, dining services, campus police expenses, the alumni and endowment associations, and even the possibility of selling prime real estate.
According to a Huron promotion piece, “each $1 million in cost reduction or revenue enhancement is equivalent to a $20 million endowment.”
It sounds as if this is a good decision by senior university officials; however, many faculty and alumni question whether it was necessary to hire an outside firm to conduct the study. Are there faculty members at KU who could have put together a plan to initiate a similar investigation? When faculty salaries have been reduced, could the $2 million-plus have been spent to pay for a comprehensive study by KU faculty and graduate students?
Some will say it is better to have an outside company experienced in studies such as this to make sure it is free from any bias while others will say KU has faculty and courses that teach individuals how to conduct such a study and why not pay them rather than hire an outside company.
Wouldn’t KU faculty have a better firsthand knowledge of how the school is run and who has the power to make needed changes, or will, as others say, using KU faculty allow bias to enter the picture?
Hopefully the decision to initiate a thorough study of KU’s operation will prove to be a good move. The sales pitch of spending $1 million to save the school $20 million makes good sense, and cents.