MU Task Force identifies cost-saving measures
Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 02:10
Universities across the country were forced to reevaluate spending priorities after the economic downturn in 2008. As a result, in 2010 Miami University has been impacted by reduced state funding, and in order to combat its effects, the Strategic Priorities Task Force (SPTF) was created.
David Creamer is the vice president and treasurer for Finance and Business Services. He said the goals of the task force were to cut costs and boost revenue for Miami.
“The task force identified areas where costs could be reduced but also areas of new revenue that could replace historic places of revenue,” Creamer said.
Creamer said the SPTF was created by President David Hodge at a time when Miami was expecting reduced funding to Ohio public universities such as Miami. The SPTF drew up a five-year budget plan to reduce costs while still preserving things that are important to the university, according to Creamer.
The SPTF’s cover letter to the president identifies some of these important core values as quality education including enriching opportunities like study abroad, an exceptional faculty and high graduation and retention rates.
Creamer said the SPTF made a plan with over 30 recommendations to the university and that there have been results.
“We are now two budgets into that plan and we have reduced costs by a little over 17 and a half million dollars as a result,” Creamer said.
Most of the cuts have been focused on administrative areas, health care and energy costs, according to Creamer. Creamer said the cuts also focus on efficient use of Information Technology (IT), reducing the finance and human resources budgets and reducing purchasing costs.
He said the task force also was able to generate new revenue for the university. One of the ways of increasing revenue was focusing on national and international recruitment.
“We have undertaken efforts to continue to recruit students from around the nation,” Creamer said. “[There are also] certain international recruitment activities like the ACE (American Culture and English) program,” Creamer said. “The program is designed to assist students who are academically prepared to enroll at Miami but don’t have the English language skills.”
The SPTF tried to make cuts and changes in such a way that Miami students do not see harmful effects from budget reductions, according to Creamer.
“Our goal was to minimize any effect [on students] and not have these reductions transferred to students in the form of higher tuition,” Creamer said. “We don’t want students to be negatively impacted. We hope we’ve done this in a way that has been transparent to students.”
He said Ohio has seen a 21.5 percent reduction in state support in the fiscal year 2012 compared to 2010, but that it is not alone in reduced state funding.
Cathy McVey represented IT services on the SPTF. She said the task force had the intention to cut costs, but also to make sure the rights things were prioritized in order to advance the university in appropriate ways.
McVey said the budget for IT services has been cut by about 20 percent and IT personnel has also been reduced by about 20 percent. However, most of the personnel reduction occurred by cutting empty positions.
McVey said one of the future implications of the SPTF’s plans for the IT department will be a new governance system that will set priorities in terms of what IT projects are completed for the university as well as e-learning opportunities for students.
“Forward-looking, we’re working very closely with the faculty who are on the e-learning committee,” McVey said. “We’re looking at how to roll out online learning here at the Oxford campus.”