Taskforce created to initiate SUNY’s shared services efforts
Responding to a Nov. 22 State University of New York Board of Trustees resolution, SUNY Canton President Joseph L. Kennedy has initiated a proactive plan attempting to create new ways to share services with SUNY Potsdam and potentially other SUNY schools.
The resolution establishes a timeline and directs the presidents of SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam to submit results of a joint report on shared services by July 15, 2012. To initiate these efforts, Kennedy has created a special taskforce and assigned his senior leadership team to investigate possibilities for the two colleges to share services and create a sustainable plan for continued growth and prosperity.
“It’s an opportunity, not a challenge,” Kennedy said. “Our goal is to ultimately improve the students’ experience, reduce costs, and direct an even higher percentage of our budget toward academics. There are opportunities for innovation and efficiency, and those are two traits our College takes great pride in.”
Members of the taskforce include two faculty members, two students, one community member, one College Council member, one Alumni Association representative, and one representative from each of the College’s labor unions (United University Professions and the Civil Service Employees Association). Kennedy said he expects many new concepts for shared services to emerge from the discussions. He has even suggested the possibility of sharing some services with other additional SUNY colleges and universities.
“We share in SUNY’s vision to provide the absolute best educational and career opportunities for our students, and we will continue to do everything we can to maximize their experience and our budget,” the president said. “Through an open environment and community input, we will establish clear guidelines and fiscally measurable outcomes for as many shared services as feasibly possible. We want constructive input toward our efforts college- and SUNY-wide. I’m confident by working together we can achieve significant cost reduction, and I’m hopeful some of our ideas may also be helpful to other colleges and universities within the system.”
The SUNY Board of Trustees resolved to maintain the presidencies at both SUNY Canton and Potsdam respectively while each of the campuses work together promptly, diligently, and cooperatively to explore and implement shared services where appropriate. Savings from the efforts will be redirected to academics and student support services, in accordance with SUNY’s ongoing directives.
Current plans include creating new revenue-generating opportunities – similar to the way the College has capitalized upon its online programming and supplementary semester offerings. Kennedy wants to see both colleges increase enrollments and work to strengthen each other’s academic offerings. “We can start by offering common start dates and expanding cross-registration opportunities,” the president suggested. “We can offer each other support for new degree programs and offer joint minor options. These are simple ways to further our collaborative efforts and add academic options for our collective student bodies.”
“We’ve already begun the process of sharing services with SUNY Potsdam,” noted SUNY Canton Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Carli C. Schiffner. “We currently have two joint searches underway for a Chief Financial Officer and a Military and Veteran Student Services Coordinator. These two positions will oversee their respective areas at both colleges.”
The searches came about following a series of discussions between Kennedy and SUNY Potsdam President John F. Schwaller and ongoing planning between the two college’s leadership teams to combine some administrative operations. The colleges are studying shared services within the purchasing, accounts payable, human resources, information technology, institutional research, continuing education, and research programs, among others. SUNY Canton officials have also reached out to SUNY Plattsburgh to discuss possible shared services.
SUNY Canton officials recently calculated that more than 52 percent of its expenditures are currently spent on academics. To view the expenditure breakdown, visit www.canton.edu/shared. The College will be updating the page with the latest news and resources about shared services. “Even though we’ve already exceed the Board of Trustees goal of 52 percent of expenditures geared toward academics, we are going to work hard toward increasing that percentage even more,” Kennedy said. “Our newly created Shared Services Taskforce will have the opportunity to assist in guiding those efforts and executing the directives of the Trustees and Chancellor.”
SUNY Provost David K. Lavallee has reassured both colleges and the Board of Trustees that shared or jointly appointed positions between the colleges would happen through attrition rather than the elimination of current faculty and staff members. “I’m truly proud that Provost Lavallee and Chancellor (Nancy L.) Zimpher have taken this stance and reaffirmed a commitment to maintaining jobs in St. Lawrence County,” said David F. Butler, SUNY Canton’s UUP President. “If our plans are effective, it will enable both colleges to hire more faculty members and further enhance our service to students.”
The concept for shared services was created to benefit students, according to SUNY Administration. “Our students are the very core of SUNY Canton,” Kennedy said. “We have been and will remain committed to providing them with every opportunity possible to ensure their success both academically and in their future careers. They deserve to be included in whatever decisions we make while moving forward with our plans.”
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