Ideas to Cut Costs and Ramp Up Revenue

WATCHING ADAMS COMMENTARY – 10/24/17

BigIdea

In the recent Valley Courier article, Dr. McClure shows her incapacity as Adams State UniversitKy (ASU) president by saying: “If the plan means faculty are let go then the remaining employees could theoretically receive a higher salary. ‘This is one of the top priorities of this reallocation plan.”

We are stunned that her first consideration is to get rid of faculty rather than the paper-shufflers in Richardson who draw much greater salaries and produce nothing. She does not understand that it is the faculty who produce the service that attracts students who pay tuition and fees.


If ASU really wants to cut costs and ramp up revenues, here’s a list of possibilities:

  • Get rid of the ASU police department. It is expensive in terms of capital demands and operating costs, and there is no dividend. To those who would argue that ASU will then be a sitting duck for loony shooters, please note that none of our elementary and high schools have their own SWAT teams. If they don’t, why should we? Secondly, the Alamosa police department is only three minutes away (driving at the speed limit of 30mph!) They would get there quicker than campus police enjoying Subway at Walmart.
  • Get rid of the whole football edifice. Again, hugely expensive to maintain and operate, and does not bring in anywhere near the students needed to balance the costs. And the coaches are among the best paid personnel on campus. Instead, take the operating costs and salaries and distribute the money as scholarships for academic achievement. That way, we get more local kids to university without the burden of debt, and faculty get better students, which in turn will lead to better student success rates, better retention, and a better reputation for ASU – which in cycle will make ASU more attractive to potential students.
  • Take a serious look at each ASU athletics program.  Any number of surveys, studies, and reports on the subject of ASU Athletics has broadly concluded that the university dedicates far too many fiscal, policy-making, and personnel resources to athletics – and for far too long.  Athletics has become the proverbial tail wagging the academic dog and has substantially limited the university’s ability to achieve in other ways.  ASU Athletics programs should be vastly scaled back to a sustainable level that is data-driven and with the overall mission of the university in mind.
  • Fire Beverlee McClure! She is a huge burden not only in terms of remuneration, but because she has done so much to damage ASU’s standing with the business community, with staff and faculty, with alumni, with state and federal agencies and potential students. Firing her would be the first step towards resuscitating ASU’s reputation.  Must we remind readers of her mishandling of HLC probation, being sued by the ACLU, setting up voodoo mirrors, wearing an offensive Halloween costume, and running VPAA Chris Gilmer off campus?
  • Create a tracker squad whose mission is to parse each and every administrative process for redundancy, to cut red tape and to rationalize processes for the benefit of students. Give bonuses to those administrators who innovate, who work out how to get rid of unnecessary processes and reduce waste.  Administrative bloat in higher education is a national problem, not unique to ASU.  But on our campus, we can actually solve it.
  • Get serious about exit interviews.  ASU administration seems to think its ongoing flight of talent is largely a compensation issue.  But we know that isn’t the whole story.  Because ASU has almost never conducted exit interviews, most employees are thrown down the memory hole with their observations then disregarded, forgotten, or vilified.  Consequently, the institution loses an untold amount of potential revenue each year by re-training new employees and losing students who don’t return when their favorite faculty leave town for good.  ASU should promptly make a point of conducting exit interviews, reviewing the findings closely, and implementing a plan to address the issues departing employees raise.
  • Fix eroding campus morale.  A number of career ASU employees have remarked recently that they have never seen the university in lower spirits.  This isn’t an accident or the fault of those who toil day in, day out to serve students.  It is the direct result of a corrosive culture that bullies, intimidates, and retaliates against people who offer divergent perspectives or sincere criticism.  We keep returning to this issue even as it has, by any reasonable standard, gotten far worse under the McClure administration.  Organizations like Campus Advocacy Group (CAG) were explicitly formed to assess this problem; that CAG was hunted down and actively dismantled tells us everything we need to know about how hostile the ASU workplace culture truly is.  This needs to be addressed in a systematic and prompt manner.
  • Apply a sinking lid policy to admin staffing. Offer competent staff redeployment to positions that would bring in revenue. For example, retrain some administrators to become recruitment officers.
  • Incentivize students to stay longer by offering progressively reduced tuition fees. For example, sophomores could be offered a fee reduction of, let’s say, 15 per cent on their third year enrollment if they attain a B+ average. Final year students could be offered a 25 per cent reduction.
  • Alternatively, final year students, regardless of grade, could be offered a half-price package. After all, getting half-revenue is better than getting zero revenue if students leave after their second or third year. It might even incentivize students from other universities to come here for their final year.
  • Offer child care services.  Many of our local students are young parents who have several jobs, trying to carry a full course load. The stress is so great that most of them drop out. We could substantially alleviate that burden by offering a full and proper child care service. Those services already on campus need to be bolstered. (A couple of years ago, someone was trying to set up a preschool cooperative shared by volunteer student and employee parents, which would have cost ASU nothing, but administrators put so many obstacles in the way that it never happened.)
  • Establish a health clinic on campus.  As described in the August 2015 study Safety and Fairness at ASU, there is substantial demand for a health clinic on the ASU campus:”Students frequently expressed frustration at the absence of student health care insurance and the lack of a student health care clinic on campus…  The absence of health care carries over to the discussions of ‘equity’ and ‘fairness’ since it represents yet another obstacle and cost for students already facing many financial hurdles.  There is broad support for having both an insurance program and a health clinic, but for many on campus it may not be the highest priority.  To this author it should be on the list of significant shortcomings in the services for students at present.”  (emphasis added) – Kuenhold, p. 49 ‘Health Care or the Absence Thereof’

    Improved access to healthcare could increase student enrollment, boost retention and academic performance, and lead to higher graduation rates.  And given that ASU has a struggling nursing program, it seems all too obvious that such a program would benefit from internships and other relevant experience by integrating with a health clinic.

  • Form more community partners.  The recent closure of ASU Community Partnerships was more than another sad indicator of institutional decline.  It also marks how the campus is becoming more insular, isolated, and failing to connect with the greater region it purports to serve.  If ASU is going to justify its ongoing existence as a physical campus, it will need to form more deep and meaningful bonds in southern Colorado – including research and development, business incubation, public-private partnerships, and more comprehensive community outreach in the academic experience students have during their studies.
  • Emphasize academic excellence.  In too many ways, ASU has been cutting corners in the quality of its academic rigor – particularly with online and graduate programs.  Accreditors, regulators, press outlets, and other institutions know this.  In an effort to admit, retain, and graduate more students, ASU’s academic rigor has fallen below many four year colleges and certainly most universities.  If ASU is truly going to live up to its “university” moniker, it will need to fund and support more faculty-led research with student engagement, increase the academic aptitude of its admissions standards – particularly for student athletes, and fund robust honors programs as well as more nationally-recognized conference and field study opportunities for students.  ASU cannot persist as a glorified degree mill with the same tired song and dance about “serving” Hispanic students.

This is by no means a comprehensive list and we hope this gets the ball rolling as ASU must turn crisis into opportunity.  So what other ideas are out there?

Submit your idea to our comments board!  Your feedback will remain anonymous unless you include identifying information.