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Administrative study released, recommends
improvements in some areas
February 22, 1999

The University will use the results from a report funded by a public-private partnership to continue its transformation into one of the best public universities in the nation and to implement recommendations that will improve student service, maximize opportunities for research grants, expand the use of technology, and improve administrative effectiveness.

For the executive summary,
click here.

The report was conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, one of the nation's best known consulting firms. It was undertaken at the request of UConn President Philip E. Austin and was underwritten by a coalition of businesses headed by United Technologies Corp.

The report targets four areas of opportunity for the University:

  • continue efforts to increase research revenue;

  • continue efforts to increase endowment;

  • continue efforts to improve efficiency and services and streamline administrative operations;

  • invest further in information technology.

"The report provides the University with a management tool to continue our progress toward making UConn the school of choice for the state's high-achieving students and will help us move rapidly toward achieving the goals outlined in our strategic and master plans," says Austin.

The report acknowledges that much progress has been made since the University gained operational responsibility in the early 1990s and UConn 2000 was approved in 1995. The incredible difference UConn 2000 has made, along with a number of administrative improvements that are not as visible but are just as real, are evidence of the transformation that is occurring, the report notes.

"Administrative excellence contributes signficantaly to academic excellence."

PriceWaterhouse Coopers Report

The report also notes where other advances can be made to demonstrate the University's continuing commitment to provide UConn students, faculty, and staff with the most effective and efficient services.

"Administrative excellence contributes significantly to academic excellence," the report says. "But unless UConn continues to move forward with its aggressive agenda, the University and its supporters may find that its efforts to achieve educational preeminence will be thwarted by its administrative inefficiencies."

A major recommendation in the report is that the University should redeploy its resources to improve service delivery to students and offer stronger support services to faculty applying for external research funding. In addition, the report highlights the need to improve information technology and implement new approaches to various administrative functions.

Several strategies are identified to achieve greater effectiveness and efficiencies, including:

  • Better use of technology, to improve work practices that are commonly manual and paper-intensive;

  • Changes to the existing "audit mentality" - rooted in the University's history as a state agency - to improve administrative processes;

  • Simplification of process, integrated workflow, and revised staffing patterns, to improve all the administrative functions examined.

The changes in these areas will build on the rapid progress already made in private fund raising and continue to increase revenue from public and private sources to reshape the University, the report says.

"The University has made remarkable progress in the past few years. With stable support from state government and reasonable increases for targeted programs, I am certain that UConn can continue and enhance its contributions to the growth of the Connecticut economy," says Austin.

"We will continue to work hard to provide the residents of our state with a University of Connecticut that is an educational value second to none, that provides an excellent education to students and serves as a major contributor to the economic growth of our state. We must work together to empower UConn to achieve its maximum potential."

While much work is left to be done, progress has already been made to increase endowment, reduce costs, attract more research grants, and balance the budget, Austin says.

Annual giving has increased from $8.2 million in 1995 to $20.4 million in 1998, up 149 percent. A similar increase has been achieved in total endowment assets, which have grown from $53 million in 1996 to $128 million in 1998.

A number of efforts are also being made to streamline certain functions, including:

  • Restructuring the sponsored research support service program to maximize opportunities and provide greater assistance to faculty members;

  • Creating a new Center for Science and Technology Commercialization to assist the University in sharing its research discoveries with the private sector;

  • Decentralizing and restructuring the budget process to tie expenditures to strategic goals;

  • Securing salary savings through University-sponsored and state early retirement incentive programs;

  • Restructuring human resources and enrollment management areas to be more cost-effective and improve service;

  • Downsizing the stocks held by Central Warehouse and improving the delivery system by ordering supplies direct from outside vendors;

  • Restructuring information technology areas, including merging the library, the computer center and telecommunications into a new information technology services program headed by a vice chancellor;

  • Implementing a new student services/information system, in concert with PriceWaterhouseCoopers and using "best practices" from universities around the country as a model.

"We are deeply grateful to the Connecticut companies that supported this study and look forward to continuing to work with the private sector to enhance and sustain Connecticut's economic viability," Austin says.

In addition to United Technologies Corporation, companies that funded the study include: General Electric, Xerox, Travelers Life and Casualty, Fleet, and Aetna.

Karen Grava