Board of Regents hosts efficiency open forum at Iowa State

Emily Eppens

The Iowa Board of Regents hosted its second Transparent, Inclusive Efficiency Review open forum June 24, which covered the newly completed first phase of the review and the board’s plans for phase two.

The Board of Regents hired Deloitte Consulting to conduct an efficiency review of the three regent universities. This review concerns administrative and academic operations with the goal of amplifying resources, improving efficiencies and containing costs.

The review has separated the study into three phases, with phase one being basic diagnostics, phase two as a detailed analysis, and phase three as the implementation duration.

“There’s a lot to absorb, but there are three main things I’d like [Iowa State] to remember,” said Virginia Fraser, representative of Deloitte. “Those things are process, people and possibilities.”

One of the two business cases discussed during the forum was a plan to reduce utilities and operational costs at each university by limiting the use of buildings during evenings and the summer.

“Summer and evening classes are currently spread out across multiple buildings across campus,” said Pankaj Agarwal, representative of Deloitte. “This results in almost all academic buildings needing to remain open even when they are only partially occupied.”

Not all agreed with the idea. “If we close down the buildings, what are we supposed to do?” said Veronica Dark, professor of psychology. “You can’t have a Monday through Friday, eight-to-five model and still have a strong research university.”

Another opportunity that was brought up was furthering Iowa State’s classroom efficiency.

“There still seems to be opportunity for further efficiency in terms of how [Iowa State] schedules classes and space.” said Gayla Kraetsch Hartsough of KH Consulting, a subcontracted firm of Deloitte. “There’s a concept often referred to on TV called ‘prime time.’ For university traditional students, prime time is 10 in the morning until about three in the afternoon.”

Other plans that were discussed included a statewide common application for all three universities, reduction of student debt and completion rates, offering programs geared toward full-time working individuals, people with families or people overseas and the possibility of offering certificate programs.

“Certificate programs can be very helpful to those who wish to become certified in a specific area but may not have the means of returning to school full-time for a four-year program.” said Regent Rick Ferraro after the forum.

Regent Larry McKibben said that the Board of Regents plans to keep the student population updated on the efficiency project through board forums, news releases and social media.

“There are things that Deloitte has thrown up on the wall to see what sticks that are going to impact other studies this late summer and fall,” McKibben said.