University hosts forums to introduce projects to reduce costs at BGSU

Eric Lagatta and Eric Lagatta

In the first of a series of forums this week, University officials gave an overview of newly and soon-to-be-implemented projects intended to reduce costs and increase revenues.

Monday’s presentation focused on research and advancement opportunities.

Shea McGrew, vice president for University Advancement, presented changes to IT functions, as well as alumni data management.

These include centralizing IT and financial management with University Advancement and the BGSU Foundation, which are now separate entities, McGrew said during his presentation.

Changes to alumni data management means the University will “better target our approaches” to alumni, which will increase donations, hence increasing revenue, McGrew said.

An alumni survey is to be conducted in spring.

Michael Ogawa, vice president for research and economic development, presented changes to the grants management process.

While the system for grant submissions and approval has historically been paper-based, the University purchased an electronic system.

“We are very, very engaged with continuing to find ways to streamline and improve our grant submission process,” Ogawa said during his presentation. “It’s going to allow our staff more time to do other types of work.”

The projects are a response to recommendations made by Accenture, a management consulting firm, which the University contracted in fall at a cost of $500,000.

Accenture’s task was to find ways for the University to both save money and increase revenue without increasing tuition.

When Accenture representatives presented the findings in early December, the report identified a potential for up to $85 million in savings and a gain of 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.

Following the report, University President Mary Ellen Mazey created six committees to assess how to implement Accenture’s recommendations: research and advancement; educational platform; organization, employees and benefits; student services; core administration; and auxiliary operations and facilities.

This week’s forums give the Accenture Report Out Committees the chance to introduce members and give an overview of efforts they have made since December.

The need for these initiatives is due to an expected budget shortfall in coming years between $3-10 million, a shortfall due mainly to reductions in state funding and shrinking enrollment, said Sheri Stoll, chief financial officer. 

According to Stoll, state funding has been reduced by 30 percent since 2010.

“BGSU is faced with many challenges,” Stoll said during the presentation. “While it may sound trite, challenges also bring with them opportunities.”

Many of the ideas presented are in their preliminary stage. This week’s forums’ purpose, then, said Stoll, is to get feedback.

“It is still very early in the process and we still have a lot of work to do,” Stoll said. “The question is, how should we proceed?”

The next forum is Wednesday at 1 p.m., when University officials will give an overview of changes to the educational platform.

Check BGNews.com for stories on the rest of the forums throughout the week.