MADISON – The University of Wisconsin System is taking a number of steps to further improve efficiency and effectiveness systemwide, saving an estimated $15 million annually through more than 250 cost-saving measures, President Kevin P. Reilly reported Tuesday to the state’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee.
“In our ongoing commitment to efficiency, we are reviewing all aspects of our operations – from academics to administration – and we are making significant progress,” Reilly said. “My UW System colleagues and I are making difficult decisions, and we will remain efficient, effective, and accountable.”
The UW System’s report was submitted Feb. 1 in response to a recommendation from the Legislative Audit Bureau, which completed a review of the UW System’s administrative costs in September. The report focuses on more than 250 current and proposed operating efficiencies – from reducing the amount of time it takes students to earn a degree to improving electronic data storage across the system’s 13 four-year campuses, 13 freshman-sophomore colleges, and UW-Extension.
The report also includes President Reilly’s own initiatives to save an estimated $2.1 million annually by streamlining UW System administrative services in Madison. His plans include eliminating two vice president positions, and using the savings to create one executive vice president position, as well as restructuring and eliminating administrative units and positions. Reilly also plans to recommend to the Board of Regents at its February meeting that the UW Colleges and UW-Extension be led by a single chancellor, and that efforts move forward to consolidate central administrative services between these two institutions.
“I remain confident that our UW System is the most administratively efficient public higher education system in the nation,” Reilly said.
“However, while we must be as resourceful as possible, reducing administrative costs is a means, not an end,” Reilly added. “Eliminating administrative positions have had an impact on students and faculty, and we will continue making changes based on a careful analysis to minimize the negative impacts of administrative cost reductions. We must always uphold our mission to educate our students and to serve the citizens of Wisconsin.”
UW System administration and institutions have already saved an estimated $13.7 million annually by reducing more than 225 administrative positions over the last three biennia, and have made major changes in operations and service delivery, while maintaining quality. Reilly noted that these changes took place amid deep budget cuts, while at the same time, satisfying increased demand for education and services by enrolling nearly 10,000 more students.
UW institutions have saved an estimated $1.3 million through nearly 250 steps to improve efficiency since 2001, according to the report. These efficiencies were achieved through increased use of technology, such as online registration, grading systems, and systemwide software for libraries; course management; human resources records; collaborative course offerings; and improving credit transfer with the Wisconsin Technical College System. The Board of Regents’ 2005-07 state biennial budget request includes more than $21 million in potential savings, some identified as part of the LAB review and Charting a New Course for the UW System, the board’s 2004 study of the university’s long-term future.
Future plans for efficiency and effectiveness include purchasing consortia, which would allow campuses to purchase goods and services at a group discount, and other procurement initiatives; continued consolidation of information technology services; and potential reductions of insurance costs, in partnership with the state Department of Administration.
“We are committed to providing access to Wisconsin students and citizens, to maintaining the quality of our education and services, and to assisting the state in stimulating economic development,” Reilly said. “We will work in partnership with the Legislature, the Governor, and other key stakeholders to further improve how we serve Wisconsin and to ensure the state’s future prosperity.”
Note to News Media
President Reilly will discuss the UW System’s on-going plans for efficiency and effectiveness during a media briefing tomorrow, Wednesday, Feb. 2, at 11 a.m. The conversation will be held in Room 225 of the Pyle Center, 702 Langdon Street, on the UW-Madison campus.
Materials will be available on the University of Wisconsin System website.
Reporters unable to attend the session in person may participate via teleconference by dialing (608) 265-1000, code 0343#.
Reilly will open with a few remarks and will entertain questions. Others available to answer questions about the UW System’s efficiency plans will include Debbie Durcan, UW System Vice President for Finance; Ron Yates, UW System Director of Operations Review and Audit, and UW-Platteville Chancellor David Markee.