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Not Business as Usual

A steering team that’s responsible for finding ways to consolidate business operations as part of the university’s strategic realignment wants your input this fall.

The realignment will directly affect several hundred staff members who handle transactions for business, human resources, and grants and contracts administration, along with the colleagues they serve, said Don Patty, the steering team chair and interim business services director.

Patty said the realignment goals are to improve service and efficiency by creating shared business operations centers that will handle a minimum of $75 million in annual expenses, meaning that most will serve more than one college or unit.

“We realize this is a culture change in how business is done at the university,” said Patty, a 27-year university veteran who’s heard plenty of questions in person and through the feedback form on the steering team’s website.

Find Out More

Patty invites all those interested in the changes to learn more by visiting the team’s website and attending informational sessions, including a Faculty Senate presentation on Tuesday, Sept. 20. Town hall meetings will be scheduled to gather more feedback later this fall as the committee puts together a realignment plan by year’s end.

“It’s important for us to hear from people who are actually doing the work and understand what’s involved,” said Patty, an assistant dean in the College of Natural Resources. “The only final decision that’s been made at this point is the decision to move forward with the realignment.”

The two-year timeline calls for the first shared business operations centers to open in July 2012, with the rest making the transition by July 2013.

The team is gathering information on best practices from universities that have successfully consolidated business services, including Michigan, Yale and Oregon State. The university is working with Mary Meshreky, a senior consultant with the Education Advisory Board who wrote “Making the Case for Shared Services,” a 2009 report on consolidated operations at more than 120 higher education institutions.

The team will also work with consultants to carry out a work activity analysis as it puts together a plan, Patty said.

“This will give us a snapshot of how much time we spend processing transactions, who does what and how much time they spend.”