An organizational restructuring at the University of Wyoming could result in a reduction in its administrative costs while attempting to stride toward achieving several of its key goals, UW Director of Institutional Education Chad Baldwin said.
UW continues to wrestle with a fiscal crisis that’s resulted in the elimination of many faculty and staff positions and reductions across all units and departments. As it continues to cope with the more than $40 million reduction in state block grant funding, UW is also striving to increase enrollment, improve retention and graduate more students in a shorter amount of time.
The restructuring of student services and academic units would bring functions such as recruitment, enrollment, graduation and job placement under the Provost and Office of Academic Affairs. Units of the UW Outreach School are also expected to be restructured under Academic Affairs.
President Laurie Nichols and Provost Kate Miller started looking for opportunities to improve student outcomes and create efficiencies across campus when they came to UW this year, Baldwin said.
“I think it is via the new president and provost who saw opportunity in some things they want to do better and this reorganization is a way they think will make that more achievable,” Baldwin said. “We know we need to do a better job with student recruitment and retention, graduation rates aren’t what we’d like them to be, we’d like to do better with enrollment — it’s a combination of things coming together.”
Currently residing in Student Affairs and Academic Affairs, the Center for Advising and Career Services would be consolidated under an associate vice president for academics. Programs with an international focus would be brought under a single executive director reporting to the provost.
A report from the UW Board of Trustees November meeting showed UW far out-spent its peer institutions in administrative spending. Though the plan creates new positions, Baldwin said those positions would be “largely a repurposing of existing positions” with the hope of eventually reducing the number of administrators at UW.
“I can’t give specific details on each one, but the bottom line is, when we’re through with this, I’ve been told, and I anticipate, there will be fewer administrators,” he said. “These are new positions, but they may be repurposed positions.”
Nichols committed to keeping administrative spending in check during the November meeting, and Baldwin said this plan could help with meeting that goal.
“Efficiency is a big part of this,” he said. “We’re in an environment now where we have to look for efficiencies. This is going to be process and it’s going to take time to implement everything, but we’re probably going to find some redundancies that perhaps can be eliminated through this.”
UW is losing two top administrators in coming months, one is Vice President for Research and Economic Development Bill Gern and another yet-to-be-named, Baldwin said. While it’s certain those positions will be filled, he said every positions that’s vacated is being evaluated for whether efficiencies can be realized.
“I think the president’s objective is (having) fewer (administrators),” Baldwin said.
Students and academic units are likely to see changes on the ground as the plan is implemented. Under the new structure, Baldwin said academic units could have more of a stake in recruiting students. Part of the Nichols’ five-year strategic plan currently being developed could include a financial incentive program for academic units when it comes to recruiting students, he said.
“I think where we’re headed — I don’t think it’s necessarily part of this reorganization, but we’ll probably see it unfold with strategic planning — is a movement toward what you’d call a responsibility-centered budget model where academic units are actually funded by how many students they have,” Baldwin said. “It’s not to say academic units don’t try to recruit students — many of them do and many of them do it well — but this is in line with the organizational change, as well.”
The recommendations of a subcommittee of the Financial Crisis Advisory Committee looking at generating revenue for UW included a proposal for program-specific fees that would increase the cost paid by all students. This comes in addition to a scheduled 4 percent tuition raise in 2017. One of the goals of those fees, however, is to improve student outcomes by taking a whole new approach to advising and paying for professional advising services.
By consolidating Career and Advising Services and Student Education Opportunity department under one administrator, Miller is looking to provide infrastructure that improves the advising experience, she says in a news release.
“These moves are designed to provide focused, intentional infrastructure that more effectively promotes success for all student populations,” Miller says. “Simultaneously, the Center for Advising and Career Services is undergoing a redesign to work with colleges to coordinate and train all student academic advisers in better working with first-year, transfer and continuing students; provide a more immersive approach to career development; and shepherd exploratory studies majors.”
A timeline calls for soliciting feedback on the plan through March before implementation takes place.