Firm to review KU administrative practices to help improve efficiency

Huron Consulting Group hired for goal of making new research, teaching investments possible

Investments in teaching and research will be made possible through a new effort to transform the way KU does business.

KU has commissioned Huron Consulting Group to review administrative practices and procedures throughout the university. The goal will be to streamline processes and increase efficiency to free up money for investments that advance the university’s mission.

“We have a responsibility to our students, faculty and staff, as well as to the taxpayers of Kansas, to ensure that we devote every dollar possible to teaching, discovery and public service,” Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said. “Additionally, if we hope to take advantage of the opportunities in front of us and raise KU’s stature as a world-class university, we must transform the way we operate.”

Gray-Little said budget realities compel KU to act. At best, state funding will remain flat in the foreseeable future, and tuition increases alone cannot provide the resources needed to improve the education of students and spur more research. Both of those are goals central to the continued strength and future success of the university.

“What we need is a self-assessment, guided by outside experts, that looks at the unique missions of our campuses and then helps us maximize our resources to achieve those missions,” Gray-Little said.

A team from Huron will be based in Lawrence and at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., and will conduct extensive interviews with faculty and staff throughout the university. The immersive effort will be guided by advisory committees at the Lawrence campus and the medical center and will give the entire university community input into the process.

KU Medical Center Executive Vice Chancellor Barbara Atkinson and Lawrence campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter both said the strategic plans being developed at both campuses will require new investments if they are to be successful.

“We have seen enormous growth and success, even during a time of serious economic challenges,” Atkinson said. “Our faculty and staff have been extraordinarily productive and innovative. Yet there is much more we need to accomplish. This effort will help us make sure we have the resources we need to invest in continued growth.”

“This effort will be a comprehensive one, both in terms of the involvement of the KU community and the ground covered,” Vitter said. “The thoroughness is important so that we’ll be able to identify the transformations that will allow us to reinvest in the priorities being identified through the strategic planning process.”

Huron has begun the review, which is being paid for with private funds. The first phase will identify a menu of options for streamlining processes, breaking down silos and other projects that will improve the operational efficiency of the university. That phase is expected to take four months. The second phase will begin in the summer and involve implementation of several of those options and the reallocation of the achieved savings to mission-critical priorities.

A description of the process and lists of advisory committee members and Huron team members, as well as the original request for proposals and Huron’s proposal are available at www.chancellor.ku.edu/changingforexcellence.

Huron provides services to health care organizations, Fortune 500 companies, academic institutions, governmental entities and medium-sized businesses and the law firms that represent these organizations. The company has worked with 85 of the top 100 research universities and nine of the top 10 largest health care systems ranked by Modern Healthcare.

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