Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Higher Education: Beyond the Ivory Tower

KH Consulting Group (KH) has launched this Know-How newsletter to create a forum for sharing ideas on effectively enhancing revenues and containing costs in higher education in the near and longer term. We will routinely share ideas via this newsletter format and post the ideas on a blog. You can subscribe to the newsletter by signing up for our mailing list.

The ideas are based on more than 20 years of work with more than 80 colleges and universities. In the 1990s, KH published more than 500 ideas in a booklet called, Beyond the Ivory Tower. This booklet was sold nationwide as a handy reference guide. It was based on an earlier poster of 50 cost-savings ideas that the KH President had worked on while with the Academy for Educational Development (AED) in Washington, D.C.

The ideas shared are not prescriptive and will not work in all situations or at all institutions. Some of the ideas are tactical - quick victories to save money in easy ways. Others are strategic, requiring careful analysis before implementing. The ideas can be grouped typically as strategies and tactics to:

  • Manage costs
  • Enhance revenues
  • Allocate resources more effectively

KH will routinely post a new idea to stimulate thinking about new approaches to addressing the fiscal challenges facing colleges and universities today. We encourage others to share their experiences, reactions, and insights and, thus, form a network of stronger educational institutions that can weather the years ahead.
We hope you find this useful.

Gayla Kraetsch-Hartsough, Ph.D.
KH Consulting Group

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


  • Change maintenance schedules so they do not overlap with class times
  • Promote preventive maintenance
  • Install all equipment prior to warranty expiration so that replacement requirements can be evaluated
  • Improve efficiency of custodial functions
  • Contract out custodial services if less costly
  • Contract out maintenance services if less costly
  • Minimize reconfiguring offices, which disrupts maintenance work
  • Promote the idea of users taking better care of college property
  • Provide better maintenance for all equipment to improve salvage value
  • Review repair contracts for office machines, and do some repairs in-house
  • Develop a “clean-up day,” once a semester, when staff and student volunteers can clean, paint, etc.
  • Re-examine custodial work schedules and crew appointments

If you will tell me why the fen
appears impassible, I then
Will tell you why I think that I
Can get across it if I try.

- Marianne Moore, I May, I Might, I Must

Buildings and Facilities

  • Reduce level of construction expenditures for new facilities
  • Use available facilities regardless of program ownership
  • Negotiate lower rents for existing site rentals
  • Close those buildings that are most expensive to operate and maintain
  • Evaluate need for all faculty to have separate office spaces and promote sharing whenever feasible (the “virtual” office concept)
  • Negotiate new electric, gas, and water rates with utilities
  • Install solar panels over parking areas and on roofs to reduce energy costs and potentially sell energy back to the grid
  • Aggressively solicit rental of theaters, auditoriums, sports arenas, halls, and gymnasiums by outside groups
  • Lease college buildings’ roofs for cellular/microwave dishes
  • Lease out under-used facilities
  • Lease or sell unused buildings and properties
  • Rent out space during off-hours
  • Sell real estate which is currently used but expendable
  • Compare costs of renting or buying area office buildings versus undertaking new construction efforts
  • Refer to "Environmental Savings" for more ideas related to buildings and facilities

The shortest distance between two points is under construction.
- Noelie Alito

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand:
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
“If this were only cleared away,”
They said, “it would be grand!”
- Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass


  • Send electronically or post final scores on a board instead of mailing them
  • Have students provide pre-addressed and pre-stamped envelopes for mailing test scores
  • Establish accountabilities for FAX and long-distance phone usage
  • Establish regional reduced rate call system through phone company
  • Examine phone service and Centrex for less costly alternatives
  • Institute billing IDs for placement of long-distance telephone calls
  • Ensure local area networks (LANs) or wide area networks (WANs) are efficient to reduce communications costs
  • Develop accessible computer options for communications
  • Use e-mail instead of memos
    Reduce redundant and unnecessary internal communications
  • Reduce mailing privileges
  • Use bulk mail instead of first class mail
  • Use postcards instead of letters
  • Reduce the number of catalogues and schedules routinely sent out
  • Compare costs for publishing class schedules in local newspaper versus stand-alone documents
  • Review the process for the design and introduction of the schedule of classes

Thanks to the [information] Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything.
- Charles Kuralt

“The horror of that moment,” the King went on, “I shall never, never forget!”
“You will, though,” the Queen said, “if you don’t make a memorandum of it.”
- Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland


  • Limit photocopying
  • Assign User ID apparatuses to all photocopiers
  • Balance photocopier loads and eliminate under-used machines
  • Install more photocopiers that print double-sided
  • Establish control over retirement of equipment and streamline the paperwork involved
  • Pursue and compare lease or purchase options instead of rentals when procuring office equipment
  • Standardize workspace requirements and equipment according to job responsibilities
  • Install less-expensive telephones at locations that do not require all functions
  • Provide personal computers and printers for use by students with pre-paid computer cards
  • Charge for computer lab time
  • Charge for computer paper
  • Charge for computer printouts on laser printers
  • Charge more for computer printouts on laser color printers
  • Charge more for computer printouts on color paper
  • Consolidate computer lab repair budgets on color printers
  • Perform life-cycle cost analysis on equipment
  • Consolidate computer lab repair budgets and use the most cost-effective repair technicians

Faith is a fine invention
For gentlemen who see;
But microscopes are prudent
In an emergency!
-Emily Dickenson, Faith is a Fine Invention

Purchasing and Contracts

  • Streamline the ordering process
  • Buy directly from discount wholesalers (e.g., Office Depot, Staples, Sam’s Club, Price/Costco)
  • Consolidate ordering of lab supplies
  • Control purchases of supplies so there is never more than a one-year stock
  • Develop cost-effective methods to process supply requests
  • Formally standardize software used for personal computers throughout the college
  • Implement vendor sourcing internally
  • Purchase more furniture from auctions, used office furniture stores, state surplus warehouses, etc.
  • Research vendors more thoroughly for cheaper supplies
  • Track discounts obtained by purchasing to monitor the effectiveness of the function
  • Explore the development of an on-line purchasing system
  • Limit access to central supply and establish controls to stop theft
  • Eliminate or reduce warehousing functions and rely on “just-in-time” deliveries
  • Limit access to central supply and establish controls to stop theft
  • Eliminate purchase order requirements for all items under $100 because processing a purchase order is costly
  • Use purchase prices and contracts already negotiated by the U.S. General Accounting Office or by a college’s state of local government’s purchasing department

We are continually buying something that we never get from a man that never had it.
- Will Rogers

Environmental Savings

  • Reduce hard copies of memos and notices by one-half
  • Limit photocopying to black-and-white and double-sided
  • Use electronic mail and encourage discretion in printing out mail
  • Reduce paper waste
  • Recycle paper
  • Eliminate cover sheets wherever possible
  • Install computerized thermostats and light control panels
  • Limit publication of academic senate and staff development notices to once a month
  • Evaluate all printing requirements and eliminate overprinting
  • Use both sides of paper
  • Use only white paper because colored paper costs more and cannot be recycled as easily
  • Provide locations for aluminum, paper, and glass recycling, and resell collected items
  • Reuse paper in laser printers where possible
  • Install aerators on faucets
  • Install low water usage toilets
  • Install solar panels over parking lots
  • Use solar energy, and promote demonstration and prototype facilities which may be eligible for outside funding
  • Consolidate classes in buildings to conserve on heating costs
  • Have weekend classes limited to a few buildings to reduce operating costs
  • Hire energy consultant to achieve energy savings that exceed consultant costs in first year
  • Install energy-efficient light bulbs
  • Shut down facilities during breaks
  • Turn off lights, heater, and air conditioners when nobody is in the room
  • Turn off heat and air conditioning from Friday noon through Monday morning
  • Have residential halls form environmental committees to promote energy savings ideas (e.g., turn the water tap off when brushing teeth, turn off lights when leaving a room, shorten shower times, avoid plastic water bottles that are only used once, activate computers’ “snooze control,” or use cold water for washing clothes)
  • Close curtains or window treatments to block out the sun’s heat on hot days – typically the south side of a building
  • Open curtains or window treatments to allow the sun’s heat to warm the interior during cold days – typically the south side of a building
  • Open windows at night if the outdoor temperature is cool – allow for cross-ventilation of rooms – and then close the windows in the morning to seal in the cool air for the day
  • Commit to a cooling schedule, frequently available at utility companies that offer money back for allowing them to turn your air condition on/off during peak-use periods (typically the heat of the day)
  • Turn up the thermostat for comfort and energy savings – air conditioning at 78 degrees; educate users to resist the urge to drop the temperature for a quick cool, which taxes the unit
  • Schedule heating-producing periods for using dishwashers, ovens, and dryers in the early mornings or evenings rather than afternoons
  • Use grills and microwaves on excessively hot days
  • Clear areas of waste around central air-conditioners or heat pumps
  • Pay bills on line (which saves trees and staff time and reduces postage)
  • Wash linens and towels in cold water
  • Turn down the thermostat when the weather gets chilly; minimize individual carbon footprint by wearing sweat shirts or sweaters instead of cranking up the heat
  • Activate all computers’ “snooze controls” on campus

I was born upon thy bank, river,
My blood flows in thy stream,
And thou meanderest forever
At the bottom of my dream.
-Henry David Thoreau, I Was Born upon Thy Bank, River


  • Centralize testing and orientation locations for counseling
  • Conduct orientation for students in large group settings
  • Consolidate counseling services
  • Define core counseling services for full-time versus part-time students
  • Do not pay counselors instructional pay
  • Eliminate faculty status for counselors
  • Ensure counselors spend at least 85% of their time in direct services to students
  • Establish an electronic appointment system for counseling
  • Establish workload standards and track counseling activities
  • Hire students to perform some of the placement testing processes instead of counselors
  • Develop a volunteer, student-led, peer counseling program
  • Involve faculty more actively in advertising programs
  • Replace counselors who are doing ESL placement with lower-paid clerks
  • Require counselors to work at least one night per week as part of the normal schedule without any change in compensation
  • Stagger work hours of counselors to have better coverage with fewer staff members
  • Use interns in counseling to help with the workload

People need responsibility. They resist assuming it, but they cannot get along without it.
-John Steinbeck in Saturday Review


  • Advertise and charge for student services that students use and for which they will pay
  • Begin building alumni data base for student mentoring programs
  • Build on-campus housing for faculty
  • Build on-campus housing for senior citizens
  • Charge for career counseling services
  • Charge student services fee to all students
  • Charge for all requests (after the first request) for evaluation of graduation eligibility
  • Open the student health center to the public and accept Medicaid
  • Provide and charge for medical tests at student health services
  • Open child care center for the college community and the public and charge fees to cover costs
  • Open selected student services to the public for a fee that covers costs
  • Open up staff development conferences to outsiders for a fee
  • Use college’s educational television channel as teleconferencing vehicle and charge for services

“Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”
- Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Information Technology (IT)

  • Explore the benefits of automation of maintenance and repair systems, particularly the tracking of preventive maintenance and breakdown repairs
  • Explore the development of an on-line purchasing system
  • Bring all computer systems under one control
  • Expand automation to improve efficiency in at least one business process each year
  • Improve controls over coordination of systems projects
  • Outsource IT functions and related operations
  • Eliminate mainframe computing and downsize IT operations to less expensive platforms
  • Streamline computer costs; compare costs of in-house versus outsourced computer maintenance and select lower-cost alternative

Man is still the most extraordinary computer of all.
- John F. Kennedy

Support Services

  • Allow libraries to retain their fines to replace books
  • Establish fixed-free contracts with outside legal counsel and closely monitor costs
  • Improve the effectiveness of litigation support functions through automation
  • Contract out duplicating wherever possible if less costly
  • Do all printing in one color and double-sided only
  • Limit access to central supply and establish controls to stop theft
  • Increase charges for transcripts, with overnight delivery options
  • Evaluate cost-effectiveness of internal campus police
  • Renegotiate service contracts, shift work to in-house staff where cost-effective
  • Review consulting contracts for their necessity, reasonableness, and ability to recoup the costs

The surest way to be late is to have plenty of time.
- Leo Kennedy

Benefits Management

  • Establish stronger controls over accounting for fringe benefits
  • Let full-time classified staff work 10 months without loss of health benefits during the remaining two months
  • Use managed care programs and techniques to reduce expenditures for benefits
  • Limit administrative perks
  • Eliminate lifetime health benefits for board members
  • Hire a specific person to monitor fringe benefits
  • Establish controls over handling of Workers’ Compensation claims
  • Have employees voluntarily take from one to 20 days off per year without pay while retaining benefits

A notable hedge of ancient yew
Conceals the house from public view;
Within the house a private room
Conceals a public man of whom
The public image, distant, cold
Conceals, they say, a heart of gold;
But what the heart of gold conceals
No one, no one at all, reveals.

-E.V. Milner, Open to Visitors

Compensation Issues

  • Give time off instead of pay raises
  • Evaluate chronic use of overtime or overload, and cut where possible
  • Eliminate overload pay during college vacations
  • Have finance administrators review, critique, and sign off on collective bargaining agreements
  • Implement rewards for cost saving ideas and deliver rewards as additional pay
  • Review pay practices, especially in administration, for fairness
  • Employ college aides instead of paying overtime
  • Reduce abuse of compensatory time system
  • Develop Pay-for-Performance or merit pay concepts
  • Reduce pay of tenure review committee or make tenure review work part of regular assignments rather than extra pay assignments
  • Solicit volunteers among full-time faculty to work reduced workloads for reduced pay
  • Equalize Pay for Work performed by faculty (e.g., class sizes, labs, etc.)
  • Stop automatic pay increases based on Cost of Living Allowances and the Consumer Price Index
  • Ensure that individuals receiving augmented pay for bilingual skills are assigned to areas where such skills are needed
  • Do not pay instructional rates for non-instructional staff work
  • Pay part-time instructors on a course basis, rather than an hourly one
  • Freeze all step increases at the mid-point of the range for a limited time
  • Have employees voluntarily take from one to 20 days off per year without pay while retaining benefits
  • Pay stipends for ESL student tutors in lieu of hiring ESL instructors
  • Prevent abuses when giving credit for “life experience” when determining job or pay grade
  • Redefine the college’s compensation philosophy to one that pays slightly below market
  • Offer a voluntary leave program without pay and without replacements
  • Institute voluntary or involuntary furloughs or unpaid leaves of absence

When you aim for perfection, you discover it’s a moving target.
- George Fisher

Hiring Practices

  • Do not automatically refill vacant or vacated positions
  • Delay, for a limited time, replacement of full-time faculty who retire or leave
  • Hire more staff who are technically qualified and who are able to handle more functions
  • Administratively control all full-time faculty hiring
  • Buy back early retirees on a part-time basis to teach large classes
  • Develop online candidate or applicant tracking system
  • Develop cost-effective methods to process personnel requests
  • Furnish substitute teachers for illness or death only
  • Hire managers with greater experience in their area of responsibility
  • Reduce overtime by hiring part-time or short-term help to cover vacant full-time, classified positions
  • Improve the manager training process for the hiring of classified employees
  • Standardize the training process for search and selection committees
  • Restrict employees from returning as “consultants” at higher pay
  • Survey and audit all job descriptions; develop generic job classifications
  • Use more part-time teachers
  • Use more volunteer teachers
  • Use students as graders and clerks
  • Establish more work-study programs for students in lieu of permanent employees, wherever part-time work is a viable option

Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.
- Publilius Syrus

Budgeting and Finance

  • Make the budgeting process easier for all employees and the community at large to understand
  • Replace contingencies in each budget, with one real contingency
  • Institute program-based accounting or “block budgeting”
  • Institute zero-based budgeting
  • Improve the year-to-year continuity of the budgeting process
  • Train deans and all budget managers in fiscal and budget management
  • Improve budgeting and tracking to provide control over temporary and part-time employees
  • Create funding incentives for departments to generate revenues and lower costs
  • Improve or implement cost accounting
  • Require cost justification for all major expenditures
  • Review the use and allocation of the supplies budget
  • Track grants and special funding sources comprehensively
  • Simplify the bill-paying system to ensure bills are paid on time to avoid late charges or cessation of services
  • Use state program-based funding formulas as benchmarks to fund departments

The shortest recorded period of time lies between the minute you put some money away for a rainy day and the unexpected arrival of rain.
-Jane Bryant Quinn

Staff Functions

  • Broaden supervisory and management spans of control to at least 8 to 12 incumbents
  • Review secretarial workload in light of new technology and adjust staffing accordingly
  • Establish clerical pools to equalize workloads and provide better service
  • Replace some clerical positions with students on work-study
  • Establish tutorial volunteer programs to replace paid employees wherever feasible
  • Allow departments to share support staff
  • Have paid student workers perform custodial tasks at college
  • Promote better cross-use of personnel
  • Increase or decrease work week of classified staff and adjust pay accordingly
  • Investigate abuse of lunch or rest breaks
  • Establish stronger supervisory controls over classified staff and clarify reporting relationships
  • Reduce number of classified supervisory positions
  • Limit new or temporary classified employees assigned to instruction and hire (rehire) based on need for college semesters or terms
  • Restructure classified positions to better balance workloads and reduce overlaps

Yellow cat, black cat, as long as it catches mice, it is a good cat.
- Deng Xiaoping

Administrative Functions

  • Convince state and federal governments to cut back on required paperwork
  • Establish more efficient and standardized administrative functions and procedures
  • Redesign purchasing to expedite orders and improve timeliness of information for accounting
  • Set up an online and an automated phone system for requests for records, catalogs, and other mailed items
  • Develop or purchase, and implement, telephone registration system
  • Improve control over central supplies
  • Merge redundant functions and positions
  • Develop a time-keeping system so funding requirements can be recorded and tracked
  • End classified administrators’ exemption for the standard evaluation and layoff process
  • Eliminate unnecessary second-tier positions within administrative functions
  • Consolidate centers and support functions to improve efficiency and reduce costs
  • Privatize selected support functions (e.g., food services, maintenance, parking, security, etc.)
  • Develop a better record-keeping system for classes
  • Eliminate or reduce administrative bureaucracy
  • Check on faculty who request leave as full-time and verify they are not part-time
  • Consolidate duplicative functions such as computing, testing disabled students, etc.
  • Establish a charge-back system for use of printing, mail, photocopying, data processing, etc.
  • Find simplified ways to process department charge-backs
  • Reduce the amount of time and people involved in administrators’ performance evaluations
  • Train managers in productivity improvement techniques
  • Reevaluate shift assignments to improve effectiveness of support functions
  • Stop employee theft
  • Track use of vendors to improve bidding position
  • Use universal ID numbers as student, employee, and vendor ID numbers
  • Adopt a total quality management (TQM) orientation to the workplace
  • Establish controls and support processes or systems to pursue cost recoveries on grants
  • Streamline work processes, paper flow, and infrastructure
  • Train managers in finance, interest-based bargaining, grant-writing, etc.
  • Re-examine matriculation costs
  • Offer four-day work weeks for some administrative or support positions and reduce salaries accordingly
  • Shift classified staff to nine-month work schedule, excluding only those needed for summer school
  • Investigate financial aid recipients to identify those not pursing studies
  • Collaborate with other area institutions to perform selective administrative functions (e.g., data processing, purchasing, etc.)
  • Establish controls and support processes or systems to pursue cost recoveries on grants
  • Streamline work processes, paper flow, and infrastructure
  • Train managers in finance, interest-based bargaining, grant-writing, etc.
  • Re-examine matriculation costs
  • Offer four-day work weeks for some administrative or support positions and reduce salaries accordingly
  • Shift classified staff to nine-month work schedule, excluding only those needed for summer school
  • Investigate financial aid recipients to identify those not pursing studies
  • Collaborate with other area institutions to perform selective administrative functions (e.g., data processing, purchasing, etc.)
  • Renegotiate phone rates
  • Keep old equipment if it still functions
  • Compare insurance coverage with different carriers
  • Do a cost-benefit analysis of the risk associated with self-insured

The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.
- Jonas Salk, M.D.


  • Offer staff development activities during non-paid time
  • Offer staff development classes on weekends and evenings so instruction is not affected
  • Reduce off-site training to reduce travel expense, and concentrate staff development on-site
  • Train deans in employee relations and human resources techniques to reduce grievances and improve morale and productivity
  • Reduce or eliminate general fund revenues spent on staff development
  • Reduce use of paid outside seminars on staff development days and at other times

Standing at my writing desk
I see through the window in the garden the elder bush
And in it vaguely discern some red and black
And suddenly I remember the elder bush
Of my childhood in Augsburg.
And for several minutes I
Seriously consider whether I should
Go to the table to get my glasses, to see
The black berries again on their red wings.
-Bertolt Brecht, Difficult Times, translated from the German by Martin Esslin

Faculty Load

  • Create better incentives for teaching larger classes
  • Evaluate load disparity taking into consideration out-of-class responsibilities or lack thereof
  • Increase teaching workload of all faculty
  • Institute “load banking” (where faculty teach overload for future paid leave) on a “one-for-one” basis
  • Have only part-time faculty or consultants teach continuing education courses
  • When classes are cancelled, have faculty “owe” that class in the future
  • Limit funds available for substitutes
  • Do not allow substitute instructors for the first day of absence
  • Eliminate substitutes and have faculty cover for each other
  • Limit release time
  • Introduce a self-funded faculty sabbatical program
  • Substantially curtail sabbatical replacements
  • Defer sabbaticals for one semester or more

“Reeling and writhing of course, to begin with,” the Mock Turtle replied, “and the different branches of arithmetic—ambition, distraction, uglification, and derision.”
- Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

It is a lesson which all history teaches wise men, to put trust in ideas, and not in circumstances.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Possible Class and Program Revenue

  • Charge fees for repetition of continuing education courses which have already been satisfactorily completed
  • Charge fees to audit a class
  • Charge non-residents to take ESL classes
  • Charge more to people who live outside the tax-base
  • Increase charges for GED testing
  • Increase enrollment and registration fees
  • Offer photography courses for credit by day and for fees at night and on weekends
  • Offer tuition installment plans so classes will be more affordable; charge interest
  • Initiate or increase application fee; credit the fee toward tuition costs after enrollment, if appropriate; and offer no refunds
  • Charge fees for non-students to use computer labs and photographic dark rooms, especially on weekends and evenings, on an hourly basis
  • Sell membership cards to non-students to use photographic dark room on a pre-paid basis
  • Sell membership cards to non-students to use computer labs on a pre-paid basis
  • Charge fee for late registration
  • Charge students who drop or withdraw after two weeks
  • Charge syllabus fee for each program
  • Charge transfer fees
  • Charge students for tutorial service

If you’re yearning for the good old days, just turn off the air conditioning.
- Griff Niblack, in Indianapolis News

Enrollment Management

  • Establish enrollment management policy
  • Establish target enrollments by semester
  • Increase average class size
  • Increase class minimums each year until they reach or exceed state or peer institution averages
  • Test students for subsequent placement at end of a semester, rather than at the beginning of the subsequent one, to stem dwindling enrollment
  • Develop controls to ensure reported headcount of students is accurate
  • Improve coordination of calendar with other colleges and universities in the area to maximize enrollment efficiency
  • Recruit at area high schools
  • Involve faculty in student recruitment activities and outreach
  • Involve faculty more actively in promoting programs and recruiting students
  • Review related ideas under: “Instruction, Classes and Programs,” “Continuing and Contract Education," and "English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL)”

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to walk from here?” asked Alice.
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where,” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you walk,” said the Cat.

- Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Fear is the darkroom where negatives are developed.
- E.L. in The AA Grapevine

Continuing and Contract Education

  • Offer more physical education courses through continuing education on a higher fee basis
  • Charge market prices or full costs for continuing education and contract educational courses
  • Offer photography courses as continuing education for fees, and use the profits to invest in new photo technology
  • Develop public speaking and presentation courses for businesses and offer through contract education
  • Offer small business courses as continuing education
  • Start large continuing education classes on film history, aerobics, etc.
  • Offer non-credit courses on modular basis with staggered months
  • Make continuing education and non-credit programs financially self-sufficient
  • Change to census days for non-credit classes
  • Reduce hours of continuing education or non-credit courses
  • Have continuing education and non-credit course students bring their own supplies and buy their own books
  • Establish continuing education courses for test preparation, tutor training, Computer Automated Design, and other new areas
  • Offer contract education courses in workplace literacy through ESL programs
  • Charge tuition for non-credit classes in summer school
  • Charge fees for repetition of continuing education courses which have already been satisfactorily completed
  • Increase charges for contract education
  • Offer more business contract education courses with higher fees

Few people think more than two or three times a year. I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.
-George Bernard Shaw


  • Maximize use of learning labs by using as listening labs for ESL students
  • Offer ESL telecourses, supplemented with reduced classroom and lab time
  • Offer more “bridge” or transitional classes which funnel ESL students into credit courses
  • Streamline non-credit ESL programs (move students through faster)
  • Make “Accent Reduction” course fee-supported for ESL students
  • Track success rates of ESL students into regular credit courses
  • Track success rates of ESL students in basic skills into regular credit courses
  • Place students in ESL courses according to their level of performance and educational goals
  • Offer contract education courses in workplace literacy through ESL programs
  • Charge non-residents to take ESL classes
  • Charge materials fee to ESL students

To have ideas is to gather flowers; to think is to weave them into garlands.
- Madame Swetchine

Instructions, Classes, and Programs

  • Initiate incentives for departments to spend under budget
  • Ask every department to cut costs minimally
  • Close departmental computer labs that are under-used; consolidate with other labs
  • Increase use of television for teaching courses to large numbers of students
  • Restrict the number of students who can enroll in high-cost programs
  • Encourage students to take larger number of units at one time to reduce administrative costs
  • Screen and place students in appropriate course sequences
  • Institute special fee for repetition of classes
  • Offer more physical education courses through continuing education on a higher fee basis
  • Consolidate courses which drop below minimum enrollment, even at mid-semester
  • Do not re-offer courses which have sharp drop-off in enrollment after fourth week
  • Review previous semester’s ending enrollments, by class, to determine viability to re-offer course
  • Do not offer courses on Friday if course attendance is typically low
  • Establish zero-based budgets tied to enrollment for programs wherever possible
  • Consolidate similar programs
  • Consolidate some department chair positions
  • Develop or augment program in business personal computing and office technology (e.g., word processing, Excel, or PowerPoint)
  • Expand program of computer classes at all levels
  • Use cafeteria to teach classes in culinary skills
  • Consolidate occupational and vocational programs and departments around relevant technical training themes
  • Eliminate occupational and vocational programs in fields with low prospects for employment of graduates
  • Share vocational education with (or transfer them to) local vocational colleges and area community colleges
  • Track success rates of Basic Skills and Development Education students into regular credit courses
  • Limit facilities used for summer school
  • Offer no weekend classes for summer school
  • Terminate summer school offerings if they do not at least break even

Good education is the essential foundation of a strong democracy.
- Barbara Bush

Curriculum Management

  • Define the core curriculum and ensure adequate funding for it as a program priority
  • Exercise tighter administrative control of course offerings
  • Eliminate course duplication within departments and across departments
  • Have area educational institutions convene and plan on how to collaborate rather than duplicate efforts and offerings
  • Change class enrollment minimums to department minimum
  • Improve scheduling procedures so that departments with waiting lists can use under-used classrooms
  • Rethink the optimal department size and curriculum components
  • Establish break-even class size and cut classes below that size, unless the department has other classes with large enrollments to offset losses in small class settings
  • Assign class size monitoring to a specific individual
  • Eliminate courses with chronic low enrollments
  • Ensure all courses are part of the curriculum continuum
  • Offer more sequential classes
  • Do cost-benefit analysis for special programs to determine whether enough students are being served
  • Eliminate “gamesmanship” in course cancellations
  • Enforce deadlines for dropping and adding courses
  • Modify the computer system so that faculty can enter adds and drops directly into the system
  • Train department chairs in enrollment management strategies and principles
  • Have 25% of the administration teach at least one course per year
  • Establish an education master planning committee to focus on long-range, strategic curriculum issues
  • Improve quality of programs to attract more students
  • Set up more distance education programs, telecourses, and video classes
  • Upgrade the computer curriculum to reflect leading-edge technologies
  • Develop financial model to determine optimal mix of course offerings
  • Expand and aggressively market contract education opportunities for businesses
  • Integrate contract education and continuing education courses into the regular curriculum
  • Offer contract education and continuing education courses in international education
  • Establish a formal marketing strategy for pursuing foreign students
  • Offer or expand contract education and continuing education offerings, which generate a profit
  • Promote use of new technology in contract education to strengthen programs
  • Market business service programs to chambers of commerce and businesses
  • Convert computer and other classes to continuing education courses with a fee
  • Offer continuing education courses on American work environments and expectations to meet needs of recent immigrants
  • Increase number of continuing education courses and charge more often
  • Design integrated educational experiences to attract foreign students willing to pay higher tuitions for that learning feature

The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.
- Chinese Proverb

Meetings and Committees

  • Limit amount of time spent in meetings
  • Establish moratorium on all meetings for a limited time
  • Clarify roles of committees
  • Define committees’ advisory and decision-making authorities
  • Eliminate committees which overlap department authorities and budgetary processes
  • Prevent staff from sitting on opposing committees (conflict of interest)

All government—indeed, every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue and every prudent act—is founded on compromise and barter.
- Edmund Burke

Everything is changing. People are taking the comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.
- Will Rogers

Payroll Processing

  • Implement electronic transfer of salaries to employees’ bank accounts
  • Combine the payroll process for both classified employees and certified faculty
  • Computerize the entire payroll system
  • Process payroll once a month
  • Enforce payroll/time reporting policies
  • Establish time and attendance reporting, linked more tightly to payroll
  • Mechanize or automate the time keeping systems
  • Outsource the majority of the payroll function and related systems to an outside vendor

Apothecary: My poverty, but not my will, consents.
Romeo: I pay thy poverty, and not thy will.

- William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Much madness is divinest sense
To a discerning eye;
Much sense the starkest madness.
’Tis the majority
In this, as all, prevails.
Assent, and you are sane;
Demur, — You’re straightway dangerous,
And handled with a chain.

- Emily Dickinson, Much Madness is Divinest Sense

Student Services

  • Determine actual costs for student services and adjust fees accordingly
  • Improve or eliminate student services that are costly but not essential
  • Recruit tutors for students from the private sector
  • Have psychiatric counselors on call and not permanently employed at the health center
  • Eliminate the less-used student services and consolidate others
  • Eliminate “optional” services that are not self-funded
  • Make food service self-service without changing prices
  • Privatize many of the non-instructional services for students
  • Cut non-critical campus activities (e.g., guest speakers) for a limited time period
  • Have Associated Students Government fees fund their administrato
  • Have theater box office revenues cover supplies, maintenance, and other contractual costs

A skeptic is a person who, when he sees the handwriting on the wall, claims it is a forgery.
- Morris Bender

Potential Revenue

  • Establish additional “exclusive” contracts with outside vendors and share in revenues
  • Establish food franchises (e.g., Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, etc.)
  • Become a franchise training ground for franchise managers and employees
  • Contract with industry to provide faculty as consultants
  • Offer community library card for a fee
  • Offer student meal program with monthly pass
  • Produce touring children’s theater for fees for grades K-6
  • Receive royalties from internally developed telecourses used by other stations and colleges
  • Set up video game centers at the student union and other campus locations
  • Sponsor bank credit cards for students, employees, and alumni in return for receiving a percentage of charges
  • Build a gas station on campus for student and public use
  • Establish a line of college merchandise and appropriate distribution channels or store
  • Form a “for profit” corporation as a corporate umbrella for bookstore and cafeteria services
  • Install more vending machines
  • Open auto-repair garage where people pay for students’ repair services and use for vocational training
  • Provide fee-based exhibitions for student art
  • Put more shops on campus, including clothing shops and other currently popular chains
  • Sell lottery tickets on campus
  • Set up coffee and tea kiosks around campus

If you want to understand something, try to change it.
- Kurt Lewin

Additional Revenue from Existing Functions

  • Issue pre-paid “copy cards” for use of copiers on campus
  • Increase play attendance through better press relations rather than costly advertising
  • Raise price of admission to plays/public events
  • Provide refreshments through concessionaires
  • Raise prices of refreshments at plays/public events
  • Have refreshments be donated and then sold at plays/public events
  • Have a “coffee bar” selling coffees, teas, and juices at the library
  • Charge everyone—students, faculty, administrators, and staff alike—fees for parking stickers
  • Negotiate with local government for greater percentage of revenue from campus-related parking tickets
  • Control parking access via magnetic cards (with time restrictions)
  • Increase the cost of parking and parking tickets
  • Replace parking meters with automated parking (i.e., parking kiosks that accept credit cards or cash) for street parking
  • Install parking meters or automated parking kiosks
  • Extend parking metered hours
  • Charge fees to community-based organizations to pay for services provided to them
  • Have outside vendors pay for space and support services they use
  • Solicit advertisers for class schedules to offset printing and distributing costs
  • Charge extra for schedules and catalogs
  • Increase fees for issuing transcripts
  • Charge fees for requested documents not normally furnished by college
  • Charge fee for student ID cards or for replacing lost student ID cards
  • Charge fees at career fairs
  • Charge fees for special lectures
  • Charge for administering career interest, vocational, learning disability, or other tests
  • Charge students a materials fee when appropriate
  • Charge for personal use of phones and photocopying machines
  • Charge for posting on campus
  • Charge the public for use of gyms and other recreational facilities
  • Establish fitness center with a snack bar
  • Charge students for college activities and student services
  • Establish or increase fees for lockers
  • Increase cafeteria prices and vending machine prices

How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!

How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!

- Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland


  • Develop partnerships with local businesses in a variety of arenas as seeds for future projects
  • Develop relationships with foreign sister cities to attract foreign students
  • Establish cooperative ventures for functions (grant-writing, etc.) with other institutions
  • Improve coordination and communication with community-based institutions
  • Join with other area educational institutions to form coalitions to support revenue enhancement initiatives

The sky is low, the clouds are mean,
A traveling flake of snow
Across or through a rut
Debates if it will go.

A narrow wind complains all day
How some one treated him;
Nature, like us, is sometimes caught
Without her diadem.
- Emily Dickinson, The Sky is Low, The Clouds are Mean

Donations, Fund-Raising, and Development

  • Establish Life Honorary Status for major donors and encourage more major donors
  • Solicit donations for classroom and facilities upgrades; put donors’ names on doors
  • Increase fund-raising efforts for arts productions
  • Seek corporate sponsorship
  • Involve wealthy business leaders on advisory councils to attract funds
  • Ask corporations to create scholarships
  • Encourage companies to support the college by providing supplies or money
  • Get future employers to pay costs of student education in career-oriented or vocational programs
  • Obtain corporate donations of maintenance supplies and equipment
  • Obtain computer lab donations; have corporations donate used personal computers for student use
  • Solicit donations or grants for staff development
  • Solicit corporate donations to make buildings handicap-accessible; place placards on buildings to acknowledge donors
  • Put public service announcements for donations on local or education television and radio channels
  • Solicit pro bono services from community businesses; offer courses to their employees
  • Ask local people to donate time to teach classes and volunteer their services
  • Obtain more local news coverage
  • Produce more publicity for college to attract more students and more donations
  • Increase use of students in Public Relations
  • Use trustees and other appropriate persons to improve community relations by participating in more community events
  • Establish quarterly goals for fund-raising
  • Pay internal fundraisers incentives based on achieving established targets (e.g., performance and funds raised)
  • Build alumni data base for fund-raising
  • Hire professional fund-raisers and pay them based on performance and funds raised
  • Ensure development positions are more than self-supporting or replace incumbents
  • Encourage departments to raise their own funds for projects outside the current budget
  • Have Foundation pay its own costs
  • Engage campus deans in fund-raising
  • Establish alumni fund-raising committees linked to schools or programs
  • Establish annual fund for college endowment
  • Develop program to increase Foundation income
  • Use alumni to solicit funds and other support from their communities
  • Initiate bequest giving
  • Use Trustees for fund-raising externally
  • Have local merchants become college boosters and provide discounts to those with college IDs
  • Establish a more effective grants office within the college
  • Hire a professional grant writer
  • Build relationships with foundations, grant administrators, etc.
  • Invest as appropriate (e.g., “seed money”) to develop sources for new contracts, foundation grants, etc.
  • Sell lists of student names and addresses (at registration, offer students the opportunity to take their names off the lists)
  • Participate in grocery store scrip and receipt programs for schools
  • Enhance current revenue with vocational education grant money
  • Pursue talk-show opportunities on local radio and television stations
  • Organize fund-raisers such as parties, balls, auctions, raffles, garage sales, book sales, concerts, bake sales, bingo games, etc.
  • Hold flea market on weekends
  • Involve popular faculty more in fund-raising and development
  • Sponsor a telethon

Curtsy while you’re thinking what to say. It saves time.
- Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

When patterns are broken, new worlds can emerge.
-Tali Kupferberg

Federal, State, and Local Funds

  • Organize a coordinated approach across functions to obtain state and federal funding
  • Use a staff development day for grant-writing or for training in grant-writing
  • Employ a lobbyist for state or local government
  • Seek state and federal funding for mandated health and safety requirements
  • Pursue Title III grants from federal government if eligible
  • Increase number of building projects submitted to state to receive state funding
  • Strengthen process for handicapped access funding for construction from state
  • Review courses to determine if some are “basic skills” which qualify for state funding
  • If revenues are linked to attendance, ensure that attendance is not under-reported
  • Ensure categorical funds do not overlap and increase general fund costs
  • Establish Theater Arts pre-professional program to qualify for vocational funding
  • Obtain more categorical funding for English-as-a-Second-Language instruction
  • Reward those individuals who secure funds

“All right,” said the [Cheshire] Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.
- Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Useless laws weaken necessary laws.
- Montesquieu

Policy Making

  • Establish explicit Board and President priorities
  • Reflect established priorities in all schedules, plans, and budgets
  • Clarify college’s mission and concentrate on offerings and services consistent with that
  • Reduce level of expenditures on “non-mission” areas, at least to a break-even point
  • Encourage better student attendance if funding is linked to enrollment
  • Investigate lower-cost course delivery options
  • Establish decision-making process that delineates authorities and accountabilities
  • Institute comprehensive and ongoing review process to assess program priorities
    effectiveness, and operations
  • Define decision-making chain of command to be followed during financial crisis
  • Develop and implement incentives for departments to share resources
  • Establish a minimum size for instructional departments; consolidate those below the minimum size
  • Cut level of travel
  • Promote better cross-utilization of personnel
  • Eliminate or consolidate duplicative functions
  • Develop optimal mix of full-time and part-time faculty
  • Offer no new tenure track appointments for a limited time period (e.g., six months or one year)
  • Review workloads to ensure that full-time employees are assigned full work loads
  • Undertake a zero-based approach to determining staffing requirements
  • Review all lawsuits and legal costs to contain legal/case/settlement costs
  • Discontinue or decrease paying for administrators and faculty to go to conferences
  • Restrict employee parties

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, learning and failure. - General Colin L. Powell, The Black Collegian

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thinking strategically about priorities based on mission

In recent years, many community colleges have had to come to terms with a structural mismatch between their sources and uses of funding. Instructional expenditures have increased because of the investments in technology, salaries, and benefits. Simultaneously, administrative requirements to track programmatic expenditures, direct and maintain facilities, administer human resource programs, manage categorical programs, and comply with governmental reporting, have become more resource-intensive.

Community colleges struggle with their resource allocation models with an aim to ensure that it is equitable, fair, and objective. Without a strategy, budget difficulties become ongoing debates during budget, planning, and Board meetings. “One-time fixes” frequently do not address the underlying problem. Therefore, many institutions only postpone the inevitable, operating in a classic “downward spiral.” In the process, they drain contingency reserves and human resources to the point where more comprehensive corrective action is simply outside their reach.

Rather than simply reacting to crises or waiting for the State to rectify its funding problems, community colleges should engage the faculty community in understanding the financial implications of such mechanisms as Full-Time Equivalent Students (FTESs) and Weekly Student Contact Hours (WSCHs). Other colleges have found that increases in WSCHs will not only generate more net revenues, but also will help them to be in compliance with the 50% Law.
The preferred strategy is to enhance revenues and capabilities to meet demands, rather than to curtail important educational offerings or restrict enrollments.

Adopting a strategic approach to cost management requires that the colleges revisit and refocus their missions. Within the framework of their missions, the colleges can evaluate individual activities and programs against the goals of that mission. A strategic approach also requires that the institution look outside the boundaries of its four walls, and assess the strategic importance of its programs, facilities, and community service offerings in the broader context of the community. Only through this inside/outside perspective will the unique attributes and qualities of the colleges become apparent. In addition, this perspective is important in helping the colleges to:
  • Assess their position in the community
  • Understand ways in which external linkages and alliances – partnerships – may be used to reinforce these strategic linkages
Revisiting a college’s mission is no simple task because different programs and areas of the college offer different perspectives and interpretations of the mission. And, at most colleges, this task must be completed using participatory governance principles.

The ideas that KH Consulting Group (KH) will be sharing in the future assume that colleges are capable of self-renewal, have the capacity to increase revenues, and can involve stakeholders in providing input to how they can help the organization and operations overall. This strategic approach presents an alternative to reactionary management and should enable colleges to improve their operations, refocus their programs, and better serve their community needs overall.

Future postings will share ideas about how to do this.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Know-How for Higher Education: Sharing Revenue and Cost Savings Ideas

KH Consulting Group (KH) started this Know-How site in 2009 to create a forum for sharing ideas on effectively enhancing revenues and containing costs in the near and longer term.

The ideas are based on more than 20 years of work with more than 80 colleges and universities. In the 1990s, KH published more than 500 ideas in a booklet called, Beyond the Ivory Tower. This booklet was sold nationwide as a handy reference guide. It was based on an earlier poster of 50 cost-savings ideas that the KH President had worked on while with the Academy for Educational Development (AED) in Washington, D.C.

The ideas shared are not prescriptive and will not work in all situations or at all institutions. Some of the ideas are tactical – quick victories to save money in easy ways. Others are strategic, requiring careful analysis before implementing. The ideas can be grouped typically as strategies and tactics to:
  • Manage costs
  • Enhance revenues
  • Allocate resources more effectively

KH will routinely post a new idea to stimulate thinking about new approaches to addressing the fiscal challenges facing colleges and universities today. We encourage others to share their experiences, reactions, and insights and, thus, form a network of stronger educational institutions that can weather the years ahead.

We hope you find many of these ideas useful.

Gayla Kraetsch Hartsough, Ph.D.

KH Consulting Group,1901 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 1900, Los Angeles CA 90067

tel 310.203.5417, fax 310.203.5419,

Since 1986, KH Consulting Group (KH) has served more than 200 clients in 25 states and 6 foreign countries. We offer management consultant services in strategic planning, organizational structures, business process reengineering, human resources, management audits (including ethics and social responsibility), and accountability and performance measurements.