Special Events: VOICES BUDGET FORUM
Budget Forum Generates Ideas for Savings
Braving a heavy snowfall, University employees attending the Voices of the Staff budget forum on Friday, January 8 learned about the university’s current budget challenge and offered their suggestions about how to help.
Jointly sponsored by VOICES and the Office of the Provost, the event began with a welcome from Laurita Thomas, associate vice president for human resources, followed by introductory remarks by executive vice president for academic affairs and provost Teresa A. Sullivan. Sullivan prefaced the keynote presentation by Phil Hanlon, vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs, by saying that, unlike many other institutions, the budget situation facing U-M is “a challenge, not a catastrophe.” Phil Hanlon followed, explaining why 2009 was a “nightmare year” in higher education, while reassuring the audience with the good news that U-M is in a much stronger financial position than many other universities across the nation. The bad news, Hanlon said, is that reduced state revenues mean U-M will continue to receive less state funding for at least the next two years, making it critical that the university continue to focus on efficiencies and cost cutting.
Hanlon told those at the forum that, with their help, he was confident the university would be able to reach the target of $100 million in savings without the kind of large-scal layoffs that have come at other universities.
Following Hanlon’s presentation, the audience of approximately 60 staff members spent time working in small groups to talk about what employees and their units could do to help achieve greater efficiency and generate cost savings.
Ideas Shared in Table Report Outs
- Place a true value on employee ideas and develop a process that ensures that objective.
- Create clearer lines of sight between our business results and the individual staff member.
- Stay competitive and innovative.
- Offer incentives for cost-cutting (unrelated to labor costs) to energize and motivate staff.
- Educate units about best practices and examples in presentations on all campuses.
- Centralize and standardize business processes across units.
- Provide cost-recovery sharing incentives for ideas that work.
- Broaden retirement incentive opportunities.
- Form a UM-wide technology/financial advisory committee to offer suggestions for cost savings.
- Share staff specializations across units so those special skills are used efficiently (e.g.: IT, HR, grant writers, generalists vs. specialists).
The program was featured in the Record Update following the event (http://www.ur.umich.edu/update/archives/100111/voices),
and suggestions generated by the participants groups have been presented to the Office of the Provost.
To contribute additional suggestions or comments, click here.