SUNYIT and Oneonta among campuses sharing services to cut costs
More than $6 million has been redirected to academic instruction and student services in the first year of SUNY's system-wide shared services initiative, SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher announced on Wednesday, thanks to efforts of campuses such as SUNYIT and SUNY Oneonta, which Zimpher says have worked to share services and cut costs.
Zimpher says that since last August, campuses have worked to identify and eliminate duplicative administrative services and to collaborate on business, finance, and procurement operations and that increased opportunities to share best practices have also led to enhanced program offerings and academic advances in every region of New York.
"The SUNY campuses have made remarkable progress in this inaugural year of our shared services initiative - truly realizing the capacity of SUNY's systemness by sharing the costs associated with administrative salaries, IT functions, procurement, and more - and freeing up funds for what matters most, our students," said Chancellor Zimpher.
"This is just the beginning as we continue to review where and how we can streamline our administrative costs and share best practices across SUNY. I thank the leadership at each campus for their dedication and diligence, and commend them for their collective efforts."
Campus Alliance Networks at Morrisville State College (MSC) and SUNYIT, SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam, and SUNY Delhi and SUNY Cobleskill combined for an estimated first-year administrative savings of more than $2.5 million, savings that Zimpher says have strengthened academic programs on each campus and led to more than 30 new full-time faculty hires.
Highlights from the first year of SUNY's shared services initiative include:
- 27 SUNY campuses have undertaken the system's first comprehensive procurement project - an Invitation For Bids (IFB) for elevator and escalator maintenance services, which the campuses collectively spent about $3 million on last year. The IFB is expected to significantly reduce SUNY's annual costs associated with elevator maintenance by reducing 27 individual contracts to four regional contracts and simplifying the process for campuses while expanding opportunities for local businesses across the state.
- Renegotiations of SUNY System Administration contracts and new agreements in the area of information technology have generated approximately $2 million in systemwide savings over the past year, and it is anticipated that these contracts will save approximately $6 million over three years.
- University at Buffalo re-negotiated its contract with the trademark and licensing firm LRG. The contract now makes available to all SUNY campuses the same favorable pricing UB receives, serving as an example of systemness in action as a larger SUNY campus can provide cost savings and greater opportunities for the smaller campuses.
- Alfred State College will begin providing SUNY Fredonia and SUNY Geneseo with printing services for letterhead and envelopes, and SUNY is exploring replicating the partnership through a SUNY-wide Print Shop Utilization Project that will examine print shop capabilities university-wide, with the goal of consolidating resources and expenditures with a few key regional print shops.
- Clinton Community College and SUNY Plattsburgh recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to share services in several areas, including a food service program for students, bookstore, academic programs, a conditional acceptance program for domestic and international students, and curricular development.
- SUNY Delhi and SUNY Cobleskill have identified more than $700,000 in administrative savings thus far, predominantly by establishing a joint cabinet, including a shared president and vice presidents for advancement, college relations, business and finance, and operations. The campuses have also hired a shared culinary faculty member and are sharing an assistant vice president for enrollment management and director of research and sponsored programs.
- SUNY Delhi and SUNY Cobleskill have begun a transition to a shared course management system, online course offerings, IT and human resource services, and contracts with facilities crews for such services as hazardous waste disposal and health and safety inspections.
- SUNY Oneonta negotiated a shared contract with SUNY Delhi and SUNY Cobleskill, with Medicat, a leading provider of healthcare information technology for colleges and universities.
- SUNY Potsdam has redirected approximately $700,000 in administrative spending to an investment in student services on campus in the past year, and SUNY Canton has invested at least an additional $500,000 in academic affairs.
- SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam have hired two shared administrators in the past year, joint Chief Financial Officer Natalie Higley and joint Veterans Affairs Officer Patrick Massaro. The two campuses are currently working together to fill a joint interlibrary loan position.
- The SUNY Potsdam Department of Geology and the SUNY Canton Department of Environmental Technology will offer minors to students at both campuses in Geology and Environmental Technology, filling a need at both campuses and enriching opportunity for students.
- SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Canton are well on their way to having a shared payroll office. Thanks to a spirit of camaraderie between the two offices, the Potsdam campus first began to assist with Canton's work when an employee became ill. Now, they are beginning to operate as one office serving both institutions, beginning with the student payroll for both colleges.
- First-year restructuring at MSC and SUNYIT will yield net savings and a reallocation of administrative to academic resources in the amount of $297,000 at MSC and $376,000 at SUNYIT.
- MSC and SUNYIT have explored numerous potential areas of collaboration and have combined or are in the process of sharing the following positions and services: President/OIC; Vice President for Administration; Directors of Business Affairs, Facilities, Libraries, and Human Resources; and Sponsored Research and Institutional Research functions.
- MSC and SUNYIT are also exploring the possibility of sharing additional purchasing, career and financial aid, and online course development services, as well as coordinating their athletic event schedules to decrease transportation costs.
- In Western New York, nearly 40 pairs or groups of administrative counterparts at the University at Buffalo and Buffalo State have met to generate ideas for shared services, resulting in nearly 100 new ideas, such as shared software contracts, library storage, fiber optic Internet access, training opportunities, and policy and procedure development.
- The Minority- and Women-owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) administrator at Binghamton University is currently working with SUNY campuses in the region to share information and expertise, and to explore the possibility of issuing Requests for Proposals (RFPs) jointly among the campuses in the future.
- SUNY New Paltz has, since July, served as the processing center for an accounts payable initiative with research foundation transactions at Purchase College, SUNY Old Westbury, SUNY Maritime, and Farmingdale State College. To date, a total of 912 invoices have been processed, with 569 invoices for the campuses in addition to 343 for SUNY New Paltz. Best practices shared within the group have helped mitigate risk and led to more effective processing.
"Creating a joint leadership team that includes shared vice presidents for advancement, college relations, business and finance, and operations has been a major factor in identifying over $700,000 in savings that can be reinvested in academic and student support services on both campuses," said Candace S. Vancko, who serves as SUNY Delhi president and officer in charge at Cobleskill. "We anticipate additional savings can be achieved in the coming year and are exploring a joint culinary faculty position, enhancing academic programs through online course delivery, and initiatives involving academic and IT services, grants, human resources, and joint contracts for services such as such health and safety inspections and hazardous waste disposal."
Bjong Wolf Yeigh, President of SUNYIT and Officer-in-Charge of Morrisville State College, said, "Thanks to Chancellor Zimpher's leadership, shared services is becoming a reality, and I believe SUNY will become even stronger as a result. Realizing the promise of shared services will give our students an even better education and taxpayers greater value for their continuing investment in public higher education."
SUNY Potsdam President John F. Schwaller said, "I am very pleased with the progress which has been made thus far in shared services. Both campuses seek efficiency in administrative areas in order to invest more in instruction and student services. I am confident that future discussions will uncover more areas in which we can cooperate and provide enhanced services for our students."
"The shared services initiative by SUNY is an exciting, forward-looking strategy. Purchase College is pleased to have sponsored the first SUNY shared services conference in January, 2012 and to be among the first campuses to sign onto the inter-campus shared elevator maintenance agreement," said Purchase College President Thomas J. Schwarz. "Much of the shared services success at Purchase College is due to the hard work and creative thinking of Nikolaus D. Lentner, director of purchasing and accounts payable."
Clinton Community College President John E. Jablonski said, "Plattsburgh and Clinton County are fortunate to have not one, but two SUNY campuses. Our missions are distinct and complementary, but we still have opportunities to work together to improve our level of service and increase our operating efficiency. Our students and our community can only benefit from our collaboration."
SUNY's shared services initiative was first announced last August and is aimed to leverage SUNY's systemness by promoting collaboration among campuses for administrative functions - among leadership and within information technology or human resources, for example - while increasing efficiency and enhancing educational opportunities. Cost savings generated by administrative collaborations are redirected toward academic instruction and other student-support services at campuses.