BGSU eyes cost cutting and income raising ideas
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Staff Writer
Tuesday, 04 February 2014 11:13
Bowling Green State University is looking to do more than cut costs, it’s looking to increase the amount of money coming into its coffers.
The university is not only looking to make operations more efficient so it’ll cost less, but because it will make improve the way the university does its business.
That was the message underlying the first of six forums looking at cost saving and revenue generating ideas presented late last year by the consulting firm Accenture.
The Accenture Report Out Committees, AROC, have been formed to explore six areas ranging from car rentals to scientific research.
The first committee forum addressed Research and Advancement on Monday.
In opening the session, Sherry Stoll, the university’s chief financial officer, said not all of the university’s financial problems “can be solved by reducing expenses.”
The university also has to look at “growing revenues or simply recovering student enrollment and donors we once had.”
She noted that the university’s state support has dropped $30 million since 2010 “and in that time our enrollment has either been flat or fallen.”
The university is projecting in the next two years it will have a deficit of as much as $10 million.
Stoll said that though the process is in its early stages, she believes the savings and increased revenues can be achieved in a “measured” way.
Shea McGrew, vice president of university advancement, will chair the Research and Advancement Committee. McGrew spoke about the possibilities of consolidating financial reporting and information technology for the university and the BGSU Foundation.
This would include centralizing financial administration within the controller’s office.
He also addressed the need to bring together the information various units collect on alumni. Currently that information is scattered with various departments and colleges maintaining their own lists.
“For an institution with as many parts and layers of complexity... we need to bring all this together,” McGrew said.
Bringing this “customer relations management” data together could not only help in seeking alumni support and donations, he said, it could also help the university recruit and retain students.
Michael Ogawa, Vice President for Research and Economic Development who is assistant chairman for the committee, said that from 2003 to 2010, when he was appointed to the newly created position, the amount of external funding to the university was flat, bringing in between $15 million and $17 million annually.
His office has already taken steps to improve the process, and early indications are that those improvements are helping faculty apply for and receive more grants and assistance for their research.
But more needs to be done, he said.
The university, Ogawa said, still relies on a paper process. Going to an electronic system would ease the process. “The more time our staff is forced to spend in submission and approval is less time they have to help faculty find more grant opportunities.”
Ogawa said going to an electronic system would also “provide better access to data.”
Now even basic data on research grants and assistance is hard to get.
President Mary Ellen Mazey who sat in the back of the room during the forum and did not speak, said later “I think it’ll be a very positive experience for the entire campus.”
The remaining forums, all on the third floor of the student union, are: Educational Platform, Wednesday, 1 p.m.; Organization, Employees and Benefits, Thursday, 11:30 a.m.; Student Services, Thursday, 1 p.m.; Core Administration, Friday, 11:30 a.m.; and Auxiliary Operations and Facilities, Friday, 1 p.m.