CCOET Support Team Meeting Notes, Nov. 18, 2015

Support Team Meeting,
November 18, 2015,
3-5 p.m.,
Regents Room

Today we will be discussing the nature of administration and academic balance. We need to focus on what a powerful, responsive, good administrative structure will look like for this institution as we look 5-10 years down the road. We are experiencing a lot of chaos right now. We need to think of transformative ideas that give us a vision for where we can be as a campus down the road.

Our task is to empower a responsive, right sized administration for a 21st century urban access research university. We have to do what we need to do as efficiently as possible. As a note, we are using the term “administration” in a broad sense. We need the right size of administration, but still be responsive and as efficient as possible. We all recognize that any resources we are spending on administration could be used in other areas for greater impact.

We need to look at what types of structures work at similar universities.

What is the right size, structure and service that we should adopt as a university?

There are two very different perspectives about what administration effectiveness means.

  1. Faculty’s Perspective: Means to minimize work that they have to do otherwise.
  2. Student’s Perspective: Means that they need a very coherent responsive administration that makes sure the outcomes they get is what they actually need. So the student’s pathway from admission all the way to graduation is as smooth as possible.

Minimize friction, maximize support, maximize efficiency and be transparent.

If we look at administration as a whole, there are number of different models:

  • Centralized: This works well for a small liberal arts college, for example.
  • Decentralized: This is UWM right now, it is how we evolved as a campus over the last 50 years
  • Clusters: As we begin to talk about more effective structures, we talk about this. By specialization, we can improve the service to the end point user that is much more efficient.
  • Shared Service Centers: This is having centers throughout campus which are much more efficient, much more specialized.

A subgroup of the committee presented a new structure idea. They presented this idea with the message that this was developed from a brainstorming session and it was not a recommendation that they were necessarily suggesting at this point. There wasn’t much time given for more research.


We went through strategic planning process, we already have goals, we already have a process, etc. This would be a mission-based structure.


Advancement Model Academics and
Student Success
Finance and Administration Research Community Engagement

For Academics and Student Success: that would include anything that relates to student success. (We seem to have a disconnect between academic and student success at UWM)

For Research: that would include things like compliance, pre/post award, and grant writers

For Community Engagement we would use a more broad sense of this term. It would maybe include things such as global inclusion, possibly international?

We probably would need a couple of other things that are support areas for these.

One would be Finance and Administration which would include things like finance, human resources, and people who pay bills etc.

Another would be an advancement model which would include things like development, communications, and alumni. All of these things might work better together if we have fewer divisions. Something like this would help us improve our processes and our communication.

The floor was then open to the support team for thoughts on the presentation.

(Question 1) Was this model comparable for a school our size? Where this was used and did it work? (Answer 1) This mission based structure was more of our thoughts, it’s similar to a smaller based structure used at Georgia State and Arizona State.

(Question 2) Do we need to fine tune this and look at how this will work at our school? (Answer 2) If this is something that we want to do, we should look at how this would work. How would it look like versus our current structure at UWM and would it save the money we need over the 2 years.

(Question 3) We would have significantly less Vice Chancellors with this model. I don’t have strong enough sense of what this could be yet. What problems are solved by moving to this kind of model? I wonder if it would be helpful, moving forward, to have a comprehensive list of all of the problems that we are trying to solve. (Answer 3) We decided to start at what we want to accomplish with our mission because we don’t think that will change. That will increase stability. When you look at Georgia State and the incredible transformation that they have had, the first thing to take note was they have a single individual responsible for the whole line of students, from recruitment all the way up to graduation. When you have a single point of contact, you have someone who is responsible then. Viewing these things in a larger sense is important.

As far as institutional effectiveness goes, we don’t have that here. This is a good way to make sure things that we are doing are effective.

The discussion then moved on, this is a start, is this the kind of thing that we should create a subgroup to delve into this further? If this is an area the support team is interested in moving forward, then I think as a support team, we could break up into small groups and dive into it. We would need to look into what time table do we need to follow if we are going to implement Shared Services as a means to help us solve some problems? This is a good role for the support team.

(Question 4) I feel confused by the shift of last week’s discussion, talking about numbers and potential cuts to each school, college, administration unit, to this week’s discussion of semi-construct ideas. Is this conversation about how the cuts presented last week will be performed? Is this an additional means for cuts? Or is this a completely different model to explore the cuts? (Answer 4) We are researching many different models in the support team. Last week’s discussion was just about numbers. The discussion as we go forward now, will be much more strategic, it gives us a new vision for how we can improve things for faculty, staff, and students so we can bring revenue end up. The 7% cuts from last week was simply just a fact. This discussion is more about coming up with several really good ways to get us partway there. We don’t want to just focus on this, we have to come up with ideas that address the budget cut, but we want to look at it like: how can we do what we can do with the institution to do things better. We need to start to think about an aspirational peer, looking at what UWM can be. We need to start to thinking about how we can move this institution to what it needs to be. This is savings here, if you are talking on the revenue end, you are talking maybe around 10 million dollars here.

(Question 5) Raw numbers like this are confusing when acceptance rate is different, the preparation of students is different, and I don’t know how things will fit against each other and how to accommodate that. (Answer 5) We had a similar discussion at a listening session, we know we won’t find an institution that is exactly like us, but we want to focus on what are some possible options so we still need to remain open about this.

Benchmarking is interesting, we also benchmark against ourselves. An original study in 2010 calculated that our support to academics ratio was about 34%, which was a lean administration. That is a good way at looking at how were doing in 2010. If we are looking at an administration balance, what is appropriate now? There are more regulations now than in 2010 so there will have to be more administrators. Given the number we have and the additional requirements we have now, that is a way at that we could actually look at it in terms of administration balance.

The co-chairs asked another subcommittee to speak about why the current administration structure we have works. Disclaimer: This does not reflect views of the individuals who discussed this, this is just for perspective.

First we thought that we would need to define what reducing the administration structure actually means. Would it be reducing schools and colleges, Vice Chancellors, administration units, custodial staff etc.? So we felt that during this certain budgetary time, not knowing what is coming next from our legislators, the change could be risky. It could reduce staff morale and increase instability; we would be spending a lot of our energy on major changes, and we have a fear of staff leaving the university because they do not know what the end result of all of the change will be. Many appointments are less than 100% in administration because they are also engaging in other things like teaching, or have faculty appointments, so removing them from their administration position results in a small portion of savings. We reaffirmed that we have grown, but so has the complexity of the university, for example, compliance. We are no different than other institutions across the country. What are the anticipated consequences of doing this? Do we really know what the yield will be? Merging schools takes a long time. That is what we came up with, but we would like to kick it back to the other side to advocate for the changes of the University.

Discussion was then moved to responding on the above:

We need to hone in on instruction and student services, what we are doing is costing us a lot.

There are inefficiencies of having student success offices in different homes, there is duplication, lack of communication, no direction of where our strategies should be.

(Question 6) A few years ago, a lot of things shifted to Student Affairs. Right now, it’s disheartening to hear about cuts to student success, there are key areas of student success that need to be preserved. We need to think holistically. Can we fix the current administration structure? Can we give more responsibilities to Student Affairs? Are there centers that fit under Student Affairs that aren’t there right now? (Answer 6) As this transition occurred, there was a big shift from academic affairs to student affairs, to centralize more things that deal with students to Student Affairs. Then, the other part of the restructuring was with UITS and the creative part of that went to University Relations , and the remainder of UITS now reports up through a different Vice Chancellor. That whole reorganization didn’t really save money, I am not sure if we ever measured, but I think it was more to create better communication lines and transparency. Whatever we do going forward, we need to make people understand the motiving reasons for the change and that it is transparent and communicated well to help people understand the change.

Georgia State is spending considerably less money on student success but are achieving more success with their students. We need to ask what are we are spending money on. Where is the money going? We are not spending money on staff that is actually working with the students, it’s at a higher level.

What is our statutory mission and what our priorities? We should structure to achieve those with the greatest efficiency. There are 6 now, and this model will bring it to 4. if we are committed to achieving these objectives, then let’s set ourselves up to doing so in most efficient way.

(Question 7) What metrics would we use to measure this? How will we know if we have been successful or not? (Answer 7) The main way to measure not just administration, but everything, is that we would take our mission and look at what the key indicators are of our mission and then look at how we would align all of our efforts to that mission and key indicators. That’s the bottom line, as far as what we are going through, you can look at any issue at an University, no matter how small or large, the notion is, before you move, you should look at the exact same thing from four different frames. The different frames were talked about which are a structural frame, personnel frame, political frame and a symbolic frame. We can’t mistake activity and change for actual achievement. We can make all this noise, but at the end of the day, if we don’t end up a better institution, then we failed.

Georgia State has an office of Institutional Effectiveness, they have benchmarks for the administration and for the academic sides of the house. We should look into this. Arizona State also grew tremendously. They have benchmarks that we can look at too so that we have two different institutions to compare.

The co-chairs decided to table the discussion on the administration structure for now and turned the floor over to the AAUP group.

The AAUP is calling on the CCOET to adopt the principles that they presented as the operating principles of CCOET. (You can find the principles on the CCOET website).

After the principles were presented, the co-chairs opened the floor to the support team members for their thoughts.

(Question 8) The first priority you presented is about making employment of staff and faculty our first priority, however our first priority is our mission, and it should really be more about students. (Response 8) It will be very difficult to maintain our research mission if no one is left in the room to teach. I have the same prospective as you, to protect the mission of our university, so the first priority is more of a sub point to that. I know we need faculty and staff to complete our mission.

(Question 9) After reviewing the charge from the Chancellor to this group, one thing that stood out to me was that we are here to propose meaningful large scale help recommendations to close a $25-30 million structural deficit. I had the same concern about your first priority as well. My thought was, how do we accomplish efficiencies while still making the employment of staff and faculty the first priority?

The co-chairs announced that the AAUP information has been entered into the record and thanked them for coming.

The discussion moved back to administration and the mission based structure. This will be on the agenda for the next primary team meeting, we will be making recommendations to the chancellor about this. If the support team goes through this idea and there is savings here, then it should go to the primary team. The role of primary team is to make sense of all of the information that’s been pouring in at every level. Whatever the support team can do to quiet noise of the information, really helps the primary team. We have to start narrowing things down into fairly simplistic recommendations now.

The question is what kind of target spending FTE/student makes sense for UWM? We need to think strategically about this. Other mechanisms will be developed to meet the short term goals but we need to have long term ideas too. When we look out 5-10 years down the road, how will we know if we got to where we needed to be?

An audience member highly recommended that the primary team invite an esteemed professor from UW-Madison to come in and give them a similar presentation that she gave today because unfortunately it wasn’t taped. The audience member also stated that he had a brief conversation with her and that she said she would be happy to come to talk with anyone here. She is at UW-Madison but she was talking more about us than Madison. We need that information for this committee. The co-chairs stated that they will approach her.

The discussion then moved back to Georgia State, (Question10) I would guess that Georgia State has an enrollment cap which allows them to predict what their enrollment will be and we don’t have that, so we don’t know what our spending should be because were usually inspirational. Is there a target enrollment that we want to base it on? (Answer 10) When you decide on right size of the campus, how many people does it take to support that size and can we still pay that amount of people? How does the order of that work?

(Question 11) There is a study out there called the Delaware Study, institutions can opt in to submit data and can query their peers, it might be more reasonable to look at our current peers this way because you can drill down per program and see what is spent per FTE/student. The EAB offered to give an external review for $150,000, the Delaware Study is $15,000  $1,250 (for a study participant) or $2,000 (for a study non-participant). It is more of a cost saving tool.
(Answer 11) We will inquire to see if we have access to this information already.

(Question 12) The motion presented from the Provost, is that something we will consider? (Answer 12) It will be pulled, we are not going to consider motions because we are not a governance group.

Another presentation was given looking at the instruction side of things. We looked at the number of sections offered during 2010-2014, only the sections that ran and in 2010-2014, sections offered rose 3% during that time while enrollment dropped by 12%. As a result, we have fewer students in these classes.

(Question 13) Is the reason for that increase because we have a certain amount of graduate TAs so we need to have that many classes so that they can teach? If we had an enrollment cap, would this help? (Answer 13) Some of the reason is because of that, but also, it is because people want to grow certain graduate courses.

In terms of restructuring, the rationale has to be, does it improve the University? We need to look at the goals of our mission and restructure according to each of those mission based priorities. There has to be something that motivates people that makes them want to do it this way. What would be a better way to go about restructuring our University than our mission?

Pushback on first bullet point from the AAUP presentation, as a grad student, maintaining faculty and staff, is directly tied to my success. We invest years of our lives in this institution and it greatly affects grad students.

The meeting then started to wrap up. It was announced that the co-chairs will give the members some homework within the next week. The primary team co-chairs mentioned that they would love to hear more about the mission based structure that was presented today.

The next meeting will be Dec. 2 when the primary team meets.