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Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday, July 9, 2010

Delta Cost Project Casts Doubt on On-Line Education Strategy

The Delta Project's new report, "Trends in Higher Education Spending, 1998-2008," has data to fuel a dozen major debates about higher education policy. One finding is particularly relevant to the much-discussed proposal to get UC into the on-line education business.

The interest among senior managers in on-line education was wedded in public comments to the belief that UC was weighed down by the costs of academic personnel, which was used to explain the need for pay cuts. On-line ed was thought capable of reducing these.  The Delta report shows that all types of institutions already spent less on instruction in 2008 than they had 10 years before. For public research univresities, this meant a small drop from 62.8% to 61.7% of the total (Figure 9).  Efficiencies are always possible, but instruction isn't the place where costs have grown.

No less interesting is how overly-administrative UC is when compared to its peers.

UCOP's own study showed that three categories of administrative personnel - professional support staff, managers and senior professionals, and senior managers - constitute fully three quarters of UC's payroll. By contrast, the average for public research universities is 37%, adding student services, academic, and institutional support rolled together. Last December,  Ákos Róna-Tas showed that the growth of senior management has greatly outstripped that of ladder rank faculty. Methodologies vary, but the findings do not.

Were UCOP serious about cost savings, it would have spent this year trying to reengineer UC administration.  It's still not to late to start.


cloudminder said...

for the non UC Berkeley audience,fyi- this is what UCOP might say "reengineering UC administration" might look like-a sort of test case, we guess:
By Wendy Edelstein, NewsCenter | 06 July 2010

BERKELEY — In the fall of 2008, the leadership team of Nathan Brostrom, then vice chancellor for Administration, decided to make a test case of Berkeley's sprawling human-resources functions, hoping to see if the campus could improve service and efficiency while reducing costs by centralizing redundant services.

The new human-resources center that opened July 1 grew out of that effort, consolidating services for more than 3,000 staff from three campus units.

At the Human Resources Center, located in 615 University Hall, a staff of 15 will now serve employees in campus administration, the Office of the Chancellor, Information Services and Technology, and the Office of the Chief Information Officer, part of IST. Its director is Theresa Richmond, who previously worked at Napa County Health and Human Services.

There were 51 people in the three units now being served by the center whose work included HR tasks, says Jeannine Raymond, assistant vice chancellor for human resources. Some had full-time support duties, while others handled HR-related tasks less than 5 percent of the time.

Among those staff affected by the transition, 12 applied and were hired for positions in the new HR center. External candidates secured two positions, while another is still being recruited.

Managers from each unit that previously employed HR staff will decide whether to assign affected individuals new duties, says Raymond, who adds that it will be at least two more months before it's clear whether layoffs will result from this transition.

The center automates and streamlines former manual processes and eliminates some work, says Raymond. For instance, the campus's administrative unit formerly used nine different timekeeping systems, mostly manual paper processes, says Raymond. "By moving all HRC clients onto an automated timekeeping system, we reduced the staffing needs" by the equivalent of about six full-time employees.

The staff at the HR center will benefit from working with colleagues with similar expertise at different levels, says Raymond. The new center will afford "many more robust opportunities for career advancement, growth, and development."

Raymond, a team leader for Berkeley's Operational Excellence initiative, says the Human Resources Center is separate from OE, a broader, more comprehensive effort to increase efficiency and reduce costs across the campus. But other campus units are also considering consolidating other functions, she adds.

A few, such as Information Services and Technology, have already taken similar steps.

A restructuring of IST in 2006 reduced its seven departmental HR groups to one. "The quality of service increased," reports Shelton Waggener, associate vice chancellor for information technology and chief information officer. The consolidation resulted in more consistent services and the ability to automate many tasks, says Waggener.

At the time of its reorganization, IST employed 14 HR staff for 400 employees. During the past four years, the number of HR staff dwindled to six through job transitions and retirement. Of those six, three people were hired to work in the new center and one moved to a position at the UC Office of the President. It has yet to be determined whether the two remaining HR positions in IST will be eliminated, says Waggener.

“With automation and aggregation, we can do more of the work with fewer people," observes Waggener. "In order to take advantage of technology, you want those technologies to be used by as many people as possible. It wouldn't be cost-efficient if we had 10 small HR groups."

For additional information, visit the Human Resources Center website.

Chris Newfield said...

thanks Cloudminder for posting this - I hadn't seen it.

"reengineering" shouldn't consist of the current UC "best practice" of "pool and fire" It should mean (1) analysis of administrative systems issues (2) in fully reciprocal collaboration with staff (egalitarian exchanges = smarter exchanges) with (3) solutions that result from negotiation rather than the impositino of executive authority. I perhaps should not have used the word reengineering for this process, which can only succeed at creating new levels of effectiveness by fully mobilizing staff knowledge in an iterative and collaborative process. Why UC admin favors adversarial top-down approaches from the 1950s is more than I can understand.
Do you have informaton about layoffs? For example, did this instance of pooling cost 36 jobs?

cloudminder said...

total layoff numbers - they claim they won't know for a couple of months

the larger question - to me, the more important question- concerns the fact that IST has the majority of their original HR staff placed in this new HR center- seems a power grab imo.
academic depts, if they become part of the control units who will copy this model, will no doubt have to lobby, arm twist, muscle for their own favorite HR staff to stay on-- and that is very worrisome for a number of reasons. the purported goals and mission of HR may not be well served by it and larger depts may completely suffocate the interests of smaller depts etc etc

the answer to your question about layoffs deserves a formal response and an updated response by administration as the process goes along since they are attempting to use this as a model

for more background on this initiative also see:


anon_staff said...

RES, or Research Enterprise Services, is an example of this kind of reorganization. It is made up of a pool of staff from former organized research units on the Berkeley campus. All staff were laid off and had to reapply for their old jobs. When the dust had settled several people had been laid off.

Months later RES staff are working night as well as day to catch up. They are not adequately cross-trained, most likely because they are short-staffed for the amount of work to be completed; I have heard negative reports from many of the academic departments that are dependent upon their services.

It's easy to consolidate staff and lay people off, and the first few months are understandably hectic due to the reorganization. It's only some months later that people higher up start to realize that what ever efficiencies are realized in consolidation are not enough to tackle a workload that hasn't appreciably changed. Two years later the unit will either become completely dysfunctional or they will quietly hire more staff. Meanwhile those in charge of the reorganization have crowed about the "savings" accomplished through consolidation and they have moved on to other glories.

cloudminder said...

yes, what anon_staff says is very true-immediately after I posted the above I thought about that example of Research Enterprise Services and the reorg of UCOP, particularly its HR- and the resultant expensive new hires that are looking like just "the same ol', same ol"

the other thing I forgot to also mention is that when they routinely say "staff dwindled to (insert lower number here) through job transitions and retirement"-- that actually means they left those employees to wither on the vine with no work, far too much work, no opportunities, or simply to stagnant in malaise -- there are many horror stories that go unaddressed... so the focus with counting layoff numbers really misses the full story of the pain and destruction that these "reorganization cuts -only to re-grow the number of staff at even higher prices" exercises cause to employees of UC. also, it appears the new hires (re-growth new staff) seem to be less diverse in many ways.

info on UCOP re-org:


and I think Bob Samuels Changing Universities has posts on the new hires at UCOP and the campuses

cloudminder said...

here are some more links on RES etc:



Bronwen Rowlands said...

Comic relief: There's some great chartjunk in C. Edley's "Online Learning Pilot Project" presentation to the Regents that Chris has posted. See page 6, "Mission Connection."

Unknown said...

The alien spaceship has landed?

Bronwen Rowlands said...

More on Edley's presentation to the Regents: In the appendix to the thing (called "Extra Slides") there's a list of courses that must be the pilot bunch. I wondered how that group of courses was chosen until a colleague who does student advising pointed out that the list includes nearly all the basics for pre-med, as well as the wildly popular Spanish and Intro Psych. Fees could be collected from the thousands of "intendeds", of course, as well as from those who finish.

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