University uses report to revise budget

Campus Editor and Campus Editor

As the University expects a multi-million dollar budget shortfall in coming years, an outside agency identified a potential for up to $85 million in savings in a report released Wednesday.

The University contracted Accenture, a management consulting firm, to complete the analysis this fall at a cost of $500,000, said University Spokesperson Dave Kielmeyer.

The report identifies 22 short-term and long-term “improvement opportunities” for the University that are projected to save $50-85 million and gain 1,500-3,000 new students in the next five years. This requires a University investment of

$9-13 million in the next five years, according to the report.

Accenture representatives presented the findings in the Union on Wednesday.

The report came at a time when University officials continued to iterate an expected budget shortfall in coming years between $3-10 million, a shortfall due mainly to reductions in state funding and shrinking enrollment.

The goal Accenture was tasked with was to find ways for the University to both save money and increase revenue without further increasing tuition, said David Metnick, managing director of Accenture’s education and public service practice.

The University announced Wednesday morning a tuition freeze for the 2014-15 academic year.

“All of higher education is changing and BGSU needs to be on the forefront of that change,” said University President Mary Ellen Mazey to a packed Union ballroom. “Our goal is to provide high quality education that provides value to every student.”

Presented by Metnick, the proposed changes affect programs across the University, including centralizing student services, using more geothermal and solar power and reducing the number of general education classes.

Mazey said she will appoint a committee in January to oversee the implementation of the report’s recommendations. The University will hold forums next semester for feedback on the report.

The full report is on www.bgsu.edu. Mazey encouraged concerns and recommendations be sent to [email protected]

Many of these suggestions build on opportunities identified by Efficiency Task Force, chaired by Rodney Rogers, provost and senior associate vice president for Academic Affairs.

Not all were pleased with the University’s decision to spend the money for the report, as it also comes at a time when University recently reduced faculty for next fall by 30, a savings of $1.4 million.

“We think spending $500,000 when you’re cutting faculty is a misplaced decision,” said David Jackson, president of the Faculty Association.

Jackson described the report as “generic” and “hypothetical” and voiced concern that Accenture’s recommendation to increase class sizes and reduce classes offered could hurt the quality of a University education.

He also noted many faculty members have expressed concern about Accenture’s previous track record at other universities, calling effects of the firm’s proposals “disastrous.”

“I’m extremely suspicious of a bunch of people who have no real knowledge of BGSU,” Jackson said. “It’s professionally offensive.”