After an overflow crowd showed up for a forum on a university effort to streamline business services, the planners quickly scheduled another session for 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Monday, May 14, in the McKimmon Center. Those who did manage to find a seat yesterday at the D.H. Hill Library had plenty of questions about the initiative, which will consolidate many of the services now spread out across campus into centralized business offices.
But not every question could be answered with certainty, said Charles D. Leffler, vice chancellor for finance and business. That’s because the work to reorganize business services is so complex, it can’t be done all at once, or from the top down.
“Everybody’s world is going to shift some,” he said. “But I can’t tell you exactly what it’s going to look like.”
That’s by design, said Scott Inkley, who joined NC State in December as executive director of business operations. While university officials believe they’ve made progress in developing a framework for the reorganization, it will take the expertise of people on the ground – in the colleges, departments and units where services are provided – to flesh it out.
“We’re not going to do this in a vacuum,” he said. “We need everyone’s participation to create something that works really well.”
Centralized Centers Planned
During the forum, Inkley presented the highlights of a report written by a steering team last month after nine months of intensive work. The report noted that NC State currently has 36 business units across campus with “inconsistent resources, inconsistent processes and inconsistent training.”
These units could be consolidated in a more logical and efficient manner, resulting in seven centers, called Business Operations Centers (BOCs), providing centralized services for grants and contracts, finance and budget, and human resources.
The draft, written before the new College of Sciences was announced, recommended that the BOCs be organized in the following clusters:
- College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Natural Resources.
- College of Engineering, College of Textiles, Centennial Campus Development.
- College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine.
- College of Design, College of Education, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Poole College of Management.
- Student Affairs Auxiliary, Athletics, Housing, Campus Enterprises, Transportation.
- Provost, Student Affairs Office, Graduate School, Office of Research, Extension and Economic Development, Department of Undergraduate Academic Programs, Enrollment Management, DELTA, Diversity and Inclusion, Office of Equal Opportunity, Office of International Affairs, NCSU Libraries.
- Chancellor’s Office, Advancement, Legal, Finance and Business, Environmental Health and Safety, Facilities, Finance and Resource Management, Human Resources, Treasurer’s Office, Office of Information Technology.
Opportunities for Employees
Whatever their final configuration, the new centers will be staffed by current NC State employees, who will receive training and advancement opportunities.
“We couldn’t do this with new people,” Inkley said. “We’re creating a brand new organization. Only through your involvement will we be successful.”
Following the forum, an employee confided to him that many people are worried their jobs could be eliminated as a result of the realignment. Workforce reductions are not part of the plan, he said. In fact, the reorganization offers more opportunities than threats for employees providing business services on campus.
“How often do you get the chance to design your own organization and job?” he asked the employee.
But it’s not just staff members who will benefit. In the end, Inkley said, the overhaul will pay big dividends across the university, making it more efficient and more responsive to the needs of the people who rely on business services, especially faculty.
Leffler echoed that message.
“Our purpose is an academic purpose,” he said. “We don’t want to be burning up a lot of the time of faculty chasing after administrative issues. We have to make sure we’re responsive to their needs. Service is job one.”
Nobody is interested in adding more bureaucracy or another layer of approvals, Inkley added.
“If we can’t make things better, there’s no point in doing this,” he said.
Although the schedule isn’t set in stone, the reorganization will likely roll out in phases, starting with a transition effort in the fall, followed by the implementation of two BOCs next spring. A set of recommendations will go to the chancellor for his approval first, after the campus community weighs in on the steering team’s final report.