Governance and Operations

Continuously examine the structure and schedule of the existing governance system and overall university operations to identify where change is needed to expedite specific types of decisions and to improve the quality and efficiency of the institution.

Governance and Operations:

Higher education is under increasing scrutiny by the public and their policy makers. Tuition has risen in excess of inflation over the last three decades. Recent state disinvestments have compounded the unsustainable annual tuition increases. Even at the best universities, about 25 percent of incoming students do not graduate in six years. Accountability is again a watchword. Universities, particularly the public institutions, must continuously search for new methods of efficiency to generate internal resources to fund priorities or initiate new programs. As the social and economic environments in which the university operates seem to move and change ever more quickly, so, too, the university community must be agile and able to respond quickly to the needs of citizens and society.  Becoming more agile and responsive in how we make decisions on both the traditional governance and the operational aspects of the university is critical.

Benefits:

    • Curricular additions and changes would be expedited.
    • Look for more ways to link resource allocation to data-driven, real-time information.
    • Improve the management and allocation of space to improve efficiency and quality through the implementation of an automated space inventory system.
    • Enable timelier student-life, faculty and operational policies.
    • Evaluate opportunities to enhance operational efficiencies through the autonomy gained in 2005 Management Agreement with the Commonwealth of Virginia under the Higher Education Restructuring Act, as well as continue to work with the state and other Level 3 institutions on gaining additional autonomy in specified areas.
    • Create a university-wide, cost-conscious mindset in the development, implementation, and management of all programs and services, in order to remain competitive and advance market position. (The efforts to increase and strategically allocate revenues are critical to the future of the University. At the same time, the university’s pace to increase those revenues is likely to be controlled and constrained by various political, market, demographic, and management forces. To remain competitive and advance market position in an environment of steady but slow revenue growth, significant efforts at cost control for delivery of services and products will be essential. The university should actively explore innovative means and methods for quality delivery of all academic and administrative functions.)
    • Analyze support service functions to decide whether we need them, and what is the right structure for them. (If we need it, what is the best way to provide these support services—through modification of current models, further utilization of our related corporations, or privatization of select functions?)
    • Utilize better managed, and new, resources to rebuild and retain university personnel, (e.g., tenure-track faculty, instructors, professors of practice, research faculty, GTAs/GRAs, and staff) through competitive compensation, new hires, and other incentives.
    • Make more informed decisions going forward by knowing the true costs and benefits of programs in real-time.

Potential Obstacles:

    • Carefully retaining shared intent of the current governance system.
    • Current system has to approve the new system.
    • Apathy.
    • Would enough faculty and staff be available during summer to serve on committees? (Even if some are on 12-month contracts, could there be reassignments of job duties?)
    • Exact model needs to be explored; slight modifications of current system (e.g., holding University Council in January, skipping September) might be a step in the right direction, but is it enough?

Unresolved Issues:

    • Apathy towards governance—how do we overcome perception of ‘top down’ and ‘bottom up’ barriers to involvement in governance?
    • Better training and responsibility by chairs in formulating agendas and sharing minutes.
    • Collective and broad communication needed.

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