October 26, 2011

University Hopes Streamlining Initiative Will Coordinate Messages

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As part of a cost-saving initiative, the Division of University Communica­tions will reorganize itself to cut costs and have greater input over communications throughout the University, according to a plan laid out by administrators at a meeting on Wednesday. The measures are projected to save $500,000 annually.

According to Tommy Bruce, vice president for University communications, the communications office will streamline how it produces and distributes the administration’s message.

The changes are part of the Administrative Stream­lining Program, a Uni­versity-wide set of initiatives that aim to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of support services. Administrators hope ASP vwill yield $75 million to $83 million annually in savings for the University, according to the program’s website.

Bruce compared the consolidation of administration communications to the reorganization of the Human Resources division, which merged H.R. units across campus into one organization.

For instance, Bruce said the communications team of the Division of Alumni Affairs and Development would report to University Communications under the new arrangement.

Bruce said the division would also reorganize the relationship between University Communications and the communications staffs of individual academic units, adopting a “hub-and-spoke” approach.

According to Kyle Kubick, project manager of the communications streamlining program, Bruce has presented a memorandum of understanding to each academic dean outlining the changes. Under the proposal, academic communications staff will be responsible for the content of their communications, but University Communications staff will be in charge of distributing them.

Bruce described the new organizational structure as a “mutual partnership” between University Communications and the academic units. He emphasized that the changes will not duplicate distribution and production efforts.

“It allows us to do a lot more things together than we were able to when we were separated and not working together,” Bruce said.

Kubick said one of the points of the reorganization was to make sure University Communications is involved with message crafting at each level of the University.

“It’s just sort of a formalized relationship between [Bruce] and the communications directors to make sure that he’s in the loop,” Kubick said.

Bruce cited the proposed New York City tech campus as a prime example of the “hub-and-spoke strategy.” He said that the communications office has worked “seamlessly” with the communications staffs of the Faculty of Computing and Information Science and the College of Engineering to craft a unified message about the proposal.

“[It’s] a really good example of an incredibly successful partnership,” Bruce said.

Both Kubick and Bruce touted other cost-saving programs as part of the ASP proposal. The division’s Paperless Initiative, for example, has resulted in considerable savings as a result of cutting down on paper waste, according to Bruce.

Kubick said the initiative saved the University $4.2 million between Fiscal Years 2009 and 2011. An additional 5 percent reduction on print and media spending will result in more than $400,000 in savings.

While Kubick said that the organizational restructuring was important for establishing a common message framework across University units, he acknowledged that the proposed savings were not as large as those of other divisions’ streamlining programs. Information Technologies, for example, is expected to save $15 million annually through its cost-cutting proposals, he said.

“The overall cut compared to some other units is pretty nominal,” Kubick said.

Original Author: David Marten