KU considering — but won’t be revealing — 40 possible efficiency adjustments worth

An efficiency and effectiveness study at Kansas University is continuing to progress, but university officials aren’t saying much — at least for now — about how they will achieve those new efficiencies.

Huron Consulting Group is conducting the study, and is being paid with a contract for up to $2.28 million, using private dollars, if all of its initiatives are implemented.

The consulting group has already presented a list of about 40 options to KU, and an executive committee will pare that list to about eight to 10 “business cases,” which will be examined further.

KU officials said that while they would be releasing the list of about 10 areas they will examine further, they will not divulging the 40 or so initial options that Huron provided.

Jack Martin, a KU spokesman, said the university didn’t want to cause “unnecessary anxiety” by having people see a list of areas that were only suggested for review.

The same question came up at a town hall meeting on the consulting plan this week. An audience member asked if the list of about 40 initial items would be made public.

Jeff Vitter, KU’s provost, said university officials had no plans to do that.

“If something is put forward that we don’t really intend to pursue, especially if it’s somewhat problematic in really not fitting in with KU, it could cause all kinds of alarms, and get people concerned about something that is never going to happen anyway,” Vitter said.

Still, a few of the kinds of things KU is looking at are known. One audience member at the town hall identified herself as a student housing employee.

“We have heard that there is a consideration of us being absorbed by Facilities, and I was wondering how that would benefit me as an employee of student housing,” she said. “Our focus is on our students, and maintaining that they have good housing and they get the services that they need.”

John Curry, a managing director for Huron, confirmed that they had looked at that as an option.

“It’s not a foregone conclusion at all,” he said. “But it’s something that we will be thinking about today and maybe thinking about further.”

A facilities employee asked if there were plans for reductions in KU’s workforce. Diane Goddard, KU’s vice provost for administration and finance, said the university didn’t go into the process with the goal of fewer staff.

“Our hope is that if there are reductions in workforce, that those will be achieved either through attrition, or they will be achieved by retooling people and giving people the opportunity to learn new skills, and to step into new roles,” Goddard said.

Vitter said KU could be releasing more information on the 10 or so areas of focus within the next two weeks.

By Andy Hyland

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