Board of Regents hosts town hall meeting: Deloitte informs public of efficiency study, proposals

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

Danielle Ferguson

ISU faculty and staff have concerns about loss of employees because of efficiency suggestions made by Deloitte Consulting, the firm performing the Board of Regents efficiency study.

A few faculty and staff shared those concerns at the Board of Regents Transparent, Inclusive Efficiency Review public town hall meeting Oct. 13 in the Memorial Union.

Representatives from Deloitte presented the eight remaining business cases that resulted from phase two of the efficiency study to a full room of ISU faculty, staff and other community members. The business cases deal with the administrative systems in human resources, finance and information technology, and they give suggestions on how the university can make the systems more efficient and cost-effective.

The human resources and finance business cases suggest moving part of the systems so that they more centralized, as opposed to each college having a separate system. As it is now, almost every department handles its own finances. Deloitte suggested moving financial processes to a shared services university system.

Moving to a shared services system could reduce the number of staff needed to perform the services. Deloitte’s suggestions include staff reductions by natural attrition or phased retirements, meaning after some staff retire their positions will not be replaced.

Paula Sandlin, a clerical employee at the laboratory animal resources, questioned Deloitte representatives about the decreasing staff numbers.

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

Sandlin, having been a clerical staff member for years, said she is “aware of the line going down for employment.”

Since 2004, the amount of clerical staff has been reduced by 205 employees from 420 to 215, according to the Iowa Department of Administrative Services salary book. Sandlin’s concern was the decrease of staff numbers accompanied by increased enrollment.

“How does your plan take those realities into account?” she asked Deloitte representatives at the question and answer portion of the meeting.

Virginia Fraser, a Deloitte project manager, said the issue of staff and attrition almost always raises concerns and should be discussed “head-on.”

“We looked at the way work could get done [and] ways to better provide that work so that it can be simplified so that it doesn’t require as many people down the line using that natural attrition,” Fraser said.

Other faculty and staff in the audience raised concerns about the information technology cases.

Veronica Dark, former Faculty Senate president, said the delivery of education is more enhanced when services are local.

“The IT cases focus on the general institutional function. My concern is about IT and education,” she said.

Dark informed the Deloitte representatives about last year’s campus-wide evaluation of information technology and educational mission.

“It was very clear from that that faculty felt their delivery of the educational mission was enhanced with local services not centralized services,” Dark said. “Am I right to be concerned that movement for the institutional IT infrastructure might force changes on the educational infrastructure that would negatively impact the core educational mission of [Iowa State]?”

Shomic Saha, Deloitte’s IT lead on the study, said the team took into account the benefits of keeping education local and said some aspects of technology and services are best kept local.

Any member of the ISU community — student, staff, faculty or community member — can submit suggestions, questions or concerns to the Deloitte team at Each regent university president will compile feedback to present to the full Board of Regents meeting that will take place Oct. 22.