President's Forum highlights efficiency and safety
Main Page Content
In the final President’s Forum of the semester today, Thursday, April 3, University of Iowa President Sally Mason said that the university has a long record of streamlining operations that will serve it well as an Iowa Board of Regents efficiency study gets under way.
Deloitte Consulting has been hired to review all regents universities to identify potential opportunities for operational “efficiency and transformation” as part of a study called Rising to the Next TIER (for Transparency and Inclusiveness in the Efficiency Review).
—UI President Sally Mason
“As state funding continues to challenge public higher education across the country, we are embarking on a historic review of the operations of Iowa’s public universities. We're doing this in order to maximize resources, improve efficiencies, and contain rising costs,” Mason told faculty, administrators, and staff at the event this morning.
Fortunately, she said, “We have had a strong commitment to be good stewards of our resources for many years. This is not new.”
For example, the UI Energy Control Center manages campus-wide power usage and controls from a single site. Combined with other work by an Energy Hawks team in UI Facilities Management, these efforts have saved about $500,000 a year in energy costs, a number that will grow as other sustainability efforts are put into place.
Additionally, a consolidated computer server center used by both the UI and UI Hospitals and Clinics has resulted in more than $800,000 in savings in annual hardware and software costs. And innovations in UI health plans have reduced fringe benefits costs by $20 million annually.
Mason noted the value of periodic assessments like Rising to the Next TIER. Outside perspectives can validate measures already taken, she said, and provide ideas for potential next steps.
She further stressed that the evaluation is an inclusive effort that welcomes diverse views and recommendations from students, faculty, and staff. And she said any savings resulting from the study would be reinvested locally.
“The ultimate goal from these reinvestments will be to strengthen our core missions of teaching and research, and to keep our high-quality public education affordable to Iowa students and their families,” she said.
Mason also provided an update on progress toward meeting the goals outlined in her Six-Point Plan to Combat Sexual Assault, which was announced in February.
“We all agree that the safety and well-being of every student—actually every person on campus—is an absolute priority,” she said. “The University of Iowa will do everything in its power to prevent sexual violence, support survivors, and hold offenders responsible, and I have invited all members of our campus to play a role in confronting this issue.”
She said that across campus fruitful conversations are taking place between students and her senior staff about how to combat sexual violence, and that more progress is likely after a new 12-member student advisory group begins meeting this semester. She said a call for nominees garnered 175 applications.
Additionally, she said a second Nite Ride van for which she authorized funding began service March 21. Like the first van, the vehicle provides free rides to women during late-night hours seven days a week.
She said the university has amended the language for its Timely Warning alerts in response to student requests and elevated the visibility of resources on UI websites. Also, a new online educational course called Every Choice will be required of all incoming students this fall and be paired with in-person workshops that teach bystanders how to safely intervene.
“We have made good progress on the six-point plan, but that's not to say there isn't still much to be done,” she said. “I want to thank our university community, especially our students, for their suggestions, guidance, and support as we continue to fight sexual assault.”
In other updates, Mason said the university’s “For Iowa. Forever More” comprehensive campaign has raised more than $1.2 billion toward a $1.7 billion goal.
“This historic campaign is already making an impact on our campus," she said. "The support we receive from our alumni, our friends, and our entire university community is heartening and inspiring."
Following Mason’s remarks, UI librarian John Culshaw provided an update on UI Libraries’ ongoing efforts to manage its enormous collection of materials, purchase the right blend of print and electronic resources, provide librarian assistance in support of research and instruction, and get the most and best use of its space.
It's transformed some of its space with the new Learning Commons, a joint project of the UI Libraries, Information Technology Services, and the Office of the Provost. The facility provides comfortable areas for studying, a café, and special events like Express Workshops that offer drop-in sessions on a range of topics, from using citation management tools to engaging with social media.
“The 21st century library is not a building full of books,” Culshaw said. “It is a suite of information services in support of teaching and research on campus.”