Archive for Thursday, November 17, 2011

KU efficiency

Kansas University needs to look at how it can trim its expenses without hurting its drive to be an attractive and high-quality institution.

November 17, 2011

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Just as individual households and businesses across the state and the country have been doing during this recession,

Kansas University is now considering ways to tighten its belt.

For a research university producing our leaders of tomorrow, that might not sound prudent or wise. Saving a buck today could prove costly tomorrow. Yet that doesn’t mean KU shouldn’t look for efficiencies and make the most logical moves to allow it to focus on what’s most important: a high-quality university that’s a leader and a place top students want to attend.

KU leaders have hired Huron Consulting to look for ways to do the university’s business smarter and more productively. KU officials and Huron Consulting last week said their work likely would lead to job cuts, consolidations and other efficiencies in how KU does business. Jeff Vitter, KU’s provost and executive vice chancellor, acknowledged last week that some of the initiatives will involve cutbacks in personnel.

“We would certainly do everything we can to use attrition to handle job reductions,” Vitter said. “That doesn’t mean there won’t be job losses.” As for how many positions will be lost as a result of this effort, Vitter said he didn’t know.

KU is Lawrence’s top employer, so the community would be wise to pay attention to what happens during this process, especially when it begins to unveil its findings about how the university can operate more efficiently. What happens at KU has wide reaching effects across the city, county and the state.

Certainly there is potential for consolidation and efficiencies among departments such as facilities and maintenance, information technology, libraries, administration and business centers. It’s good the questions are being asked and studied.

Throughout the process, KU and Huron Consulting should balance the need for KU to be a top university and the value of being efficient. KU can’t afford to lose on either end.

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