Statewide Transformation Decisions Announced at Staff Forums

On April 14, President Johnsen met with Statewide (SW) staff in Fairbanks and Anchorage to share decisions regarding Statewide Transformation. The purpose of the transformation process was to articulate SW’s role, and provide broad analysis of structural, cultural, collaborative and management issues that will be important for restructuring the university and creating efficiencies heading into lean budget years. Before announcing the final decisions during the face-to-face meetings, Johnsen considered the recommendations of the SW Transformation Team and subsequent working groups, staff feedback, and discussions with SW leadership and the University of Alaska (UA) Summit Team. ���

A copy of his presentation can be downloaded HERE.

The 113 final recommendations of the Statewide Transformation involve reductions in functions or positions, changes in the location of work being done, and changes in how SW collaborates with the campuses. During the meeting, Johnsen reminded staff that the Statewide Transformation needs to be considered in context with UA’s role and mission, the current budget situation and the guiding principles behind the university’s restructuring efforts, including Strategic Pathways. UA needs to meet state needs while focusing on the individual strengths of each of our universities and our administrative and enterprise systems. As part of that consideration, President Johnsen discussed his emphasis on the reduction of upper administration. Administration at all levels of the university will be reviewed with a targeted 20 percent reduction of senior positions by FY17.

Some of the recommendations have already been accomplished and some will take longer, but in general, they all fall into 30-, 60- or 90-day time frames starting from April 14 when the decisions were announced.

The principles behind the Statewide Transformation include:

  • Clarifying roles and responsibilities of SW staff and those with similar or related functions on the campuses. This will avoid unnecessary frustration, cost, time, and service delays, while ensuring responsiveness and accountability.
  • Avoiding expensive one-of-a-kind processes and enterprise systems to ensure the lowest cost and convenience for our students.
  • Charging the officers at Statewide to reinvigorate their respective consultative councils including campus leaders and governance representatives.
  • Establishing guiding principles for thinking about the changes ahead:
    • Work that directly touches faculty and students should be done on the campuses.
    • Work that involves SW strategy and policy should be led by SW in consultation with campus leaders.
    • Include governance representatives in the various councils.
    • If divergent processes do not create value by bringing in a new student or graduate a student more quickly, then a standard process will be used.
    • With the budget being cut by the State and we must seek more cost-effective ways of contributing to the university’s primary teaching, research, and service mission.

Transactional procedures, in particular in human resources and information technology (IT), will move to campuses as will student outreach, FERPA compliance, risk functions, Banner access management and workforce development programs. Policies, oversight, coordination, and leadership will remain at the Statewide level and be collaboratively managed, in part, through the creation or rededication of cross-campus councils.

Several big changes will occur in IT including the establishment of one email and calendar program (Google), a common learning management system (Blackboard), reduced duplication of technology system management, centralization of Banner functions, and a full system-wide OIT review conducted by an external consultant to identify efficiencies and guide reorganization.

Opportunities to gain efficiencies in multiple areas through outsourcing will be evaluated. Facilities will be reviewed and decisions made to possibly divest some assets. The role of Chief Facilities Officer may move to one of the universities. Similarly a long-term land management strategy and process improvement potentials will be evaluated.

For a summary overview of what moves to campuses, what moves within Statewide, what doesn’t change, what roles have been defined for Statewide, what gets reduced or reassigned, what councils will be established or better defined, and what needs further evaluation click HERE.

The next important step will be implementation which will occur over the next 90 days. As details resulting from the implementation process are fleshed out and become available, department leaders will share them with staff.

In a follow-up session with SW employees on April 25, Johnsen answered questions about the process, implementation and communication, and definition needs surrounding these decisions. Ongoing communication and dialogue will be critical to a smooth transition. Above all, Johnsen reminded staff that everyone, those here at Statewide and those on campuses, are dedicated to the university, are doing their very best, and shall be treated with respect and patience as the changes occur.

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