Regents approve administrative structure changes in efficiency business cases


Sam Greene/Iowa State Daily

The crowd looks on as faculty members ask the panel questions at the Iowa Board of Regents town hall meeting Oct. 13.

Danielle Ferguson

The Iowa Board of Regents approved changes to the finance, human resource and information technology structures at the three public universities, which could cut 250 jobs to save millions of dollars.

The board unanimously approved the eight remaining administrative proposals, or “business cases,” which included four information technology cases, two facilities cases, one human resources case and one finance case, at its Nov. 14 TIER-only telephonic meeting.

ISU faculty and staff expressed concerns about the possible job losses that may accompany the case implementations at the Oct. 13 public hearing on campus.

Some business cases suggest decreasing the number of staff needed for the human resources and finance systems processes. Almost every department handles its own finances. Deloitte suggested moving financial processes to a shared university system.

Paula Sandlin, a clerical employee at the laboratory animal resources, questioned Deloitte representatives about the decreasing staff numbers at the Oct. 13 town hall meeting.

“My concern is with the elimination of positions not only through attrition but the possibility of layoffs,” Sandlin said at the hearing. “Over the past five years, clerical staff has been cut drastically because of the budget.”

Throughout the review of the cases, though, Deloitte representatives have said the decrease in employees can be done through natural attrition and early retirement.

“We have said that we believe that through attrition and other aspects, that we’ll be able to deal with [a job loss] if indeed there is job loss,” said regent President Bruce Rastetter.

Mark Braun, TIER project manager, said job amounts could be part of how the university presidents recommend to implement the cases.

One of the finance cases will move the universities to a university-wide shared services model that would standardize how different areas of the university handle finances.

Deloitte Consulting, the firm hired to perform the review at a cost of about $3.5 million, suggested these cases based off interviews and data research at each university.

The eight business cases look into how universities perform finance transactions, deliver human resource inquiries and collaborate between information technology departments to help processes run more efficiently and help the universities save money. The saved money, which the board has said could be from $30 million to $80 million across the three universities, would go back to the universities.

“This is about students and future generations of Iowans,” Rastetter said. “The people across the country and the world send their kids to the public universities for accessibility and affordability. the university presidents embracing this and wanting to begin working on the implementation process is a good sign thus far that it’s been successful.”

Some proposals can be implemented internally by each university and others may require outside help from a consultant, regent Larry McKibben said.

ISU President Steven Leath said there are a number of cases, though he didn’t specify which, Iowa State would be interested in creating its own implementation plans.

Universities would have to submit their implement propositions by the end of the calendar year.

The board also unanimously approved two other motions: to search for a consultant to proceed with the academic portion of the review and a Professional Services Agreement with Ad Astra, a company that handles classroom and other academic-related scheduling in higher education, to finish work on two space use cases.

The board approved a request for proposal to select a consultant to finish the academic portion of the review, which includes two unfinished business cases, titled “Time to Graduate” and “Distance Education.”

Braun said it is too soon to tell when the universities will start to see the savings, but said he anticipates the universities will see savings within the next fiscal year.