Theme: Simplifying structures

One of the big things on our minds has been the importance of simplifying our university’s structures.

Since the end of January, PCIP has been reflecting on and talking to deans and unit leaders about how the TransformUS task force recommendations roll up at the college and unit level. We have been interested not so much in individual recommendations – many of those should appropriately be considered and acted upon at the college or unit level – but rather in larger groups or clusters of possible actions, things that make a material difference at the institutional level, and things that illustrate patterns or themes across the university.

Simplification, amalgamation, and streamlining of structures is one of those themes that seems to us to capture some of the most important messages to the university out of the work of the task forces.

We see huge opportunities to maintain areas of academic work and needed services in future with simpler and more cohesive structures supporting them. This might mean combining academic or administrative programs or units in new ways that are stronger and sustainable.

The task forces pointed to a number of instances of duplication, fragmentation, overlap, or undue complication that have been known for some time. We seem to be overstructured and oversubdivided for a university our size, which burdens us with costs and hinders working together. In an era where resources are and will be constrained well into the future, we can no longer afford to simply work around such situations. The time has come to resolve them.

This includes the top-level organizational structure and administrative leadership of the university. Streamlining and simplification begin here, where we are planning and taking actions to combine offices and roles where we see ways to do so. The thought process is to support needed work in future with fewer separate offices, and to reduce the overall size of the university’s leadership group. Similar thought processes of amalgamating and combining can be applied in various academic and administrative units across the campus.

The effect of such changes will be that the university will have stronger and fewer units, sustainable into the future, and we will have staff, faculty, and leaders at all levels who are empowered and have authority to act. We see multiple projects of this kind coming together, and will present them in a comprehensive action plan by May 1st.

Coming blog posts will address other themes and patterns we see regarding actions that can ensure sustainability and strengthen our university.

Brett and Greg

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