LSU’s Technology, Revenue Generation Task Force Groups Meet
BATON ROUGE – Meetings resumed on Monday, April 29, for two of the Task Force Groups of the LSU Transition Advisory Team. The Technology and Revenue Generation task force groups met at the LSU AgCenter. The meetings were streamed live via the Internet for those who could not attend and meeting archives are available at www.lsu.edu/tat.
The Technology Task Force is looking at the changing culture, promoting efficiency and encouraging innovation. Academic research, administration and leveraging data to drive innovation are being reviewed.
In the morning session, task for team member Pat Bodin, former CIO and vice president of Exxon and one of the executives who was instrumental in the technology decisions related to the Exxon and Mobil merger, introduced Jerry Grochow, former CIO of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who gave a presentation on “IT and U.”
Grochow, who has a background in both universities and business, provided the similarities and the differences in working in the business environment and the university environment.
Grochow outlined topics for discussion during his session, which included the future of IT; online learning (MOOCs) and policy implications; involvement of IT in research; and the impact on organizational culture. The drivers of the discussion were the LSU2015 plan, LSU’s desire to be more globally competitive and cost savings.
Grochow said that IT is an important discussion for the future of higher education and research and that on a university campus, IT is everywhere.
“We can’t get away from it,” he said. “It’s not an afterthought anymore.”
Grochow provided “ERP Implementation: A Case Study” on the reengineering process MIT went through beginning in 1993. The driver for MIT at the time, as is the case for LSU today, was cost savings as funding for research universities had been changing, as is state funding currently for LSU.
One of the most important factors in reengineering IT systems is to have those decisions come from the top of the organization.
“This was a set of processes that had to be driven right from the top of the organization,” said Grochow, who added that there has to be follow through from the top as well.
At MIT, they involved the faculty through town hall meetings and discussed how they were reengineering the business processes and how those changes would affect academics.
“If you don’t have that level of interest driving, I think you’re going to have a very difficult time. These are very impactful changes,” Grochow said.
The process started in 1993 and continues today. It took until 2006 for payroll to be implemented into the reengineered system.
"This is a long process,” Grochow said.
Grochow added that different organizations have a different level of change they can accept and you have to judge that by the culture of the organization.
In higher education today, Grochow said, that schools are moving away from “big bang” ERP projects because they are too costly and too risky. Universities are now moving toward an Enterprise Architecture Approach, which allow for more integration of components.
“You don’t necessarily have to buy a system that does everything,” he said.
Grochow said that it is a major task to implement an ERP and that it takes a lot of effort on a lot of people’s part.
“This is not about IT,” he said. “This is about the administration of the university. IT is one of the supporting players.”
Grochow also touched on big data and analytics and “the cloud” during his talk. He first overviewed big data and the areas where analytics provides value such as reducing cost, innovation, improve operations, grow existing business, and improve outcomes of research or academics.
“It’s an exciting time; you’ve got a lot of opportunities here,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity to make a strong case for the kinds of things LSU needs in the future.”
The cloud represents the next in a series of major shifts in the way computing resources are provided. By utilizing the cloud, a university can move from owning resources to deploying resources, from technical management to contract management, from managing IT to managing cloud providers, from capital costs to operational costs, and from planned usage to on-demand usage.
“Moving to the cloud is not always about saving money, it’s about flexibility,” Grochow said.
The afternoon session included a discussion of systems integrations and shared services final recommendations led by Brian Nichols, CIO of LSU.
Nichols recapped a conference call that was held with each campus on needs regarding an ERP. The group decided to look at moving to one ERP system and focus on what’s in the best interest of the university in the long term.
The group has reviewed and will continue to review what other universities have done with their ERPs, whether they use a multi-source approach, single vendors or multiple vendors.
Lee Griffin, president and CEO of the LSU Foundation and co-chair of the Finance and Revenue Sub-Committee, charged the group with their next steps to outline potential cost savings in light of today’s discussion.
Christel Slaughter of SSA Consultants said that there is a risk – not just opportunity cost – associated with not moving to a new system, so the group needs to analyze that as well.
“We need to implement a system that doesn’t just keep the momentum going, but makes us soar,” said Donna Torres, LSU associate vice chancellor of accounting services and Staff Senate Executive Committee member at-large.
The Revenue Generation Task Force is focusing on identifying new revenue streams. Areas of revenue generation include self-generated streams, governmental (primarily federal) sponsored research and monetized assets.
During the task force meeting, Robert Kuhn, LSU interim vice chancellor for Finance & Administrative Services and CFO, lead a discussion on tuition strategies and LSU’s room and board costs relative to peers.
Kuhn provided the group with the updated tuition and fee schedule and outlined the thought process that went into the schedule when it was developed years ago. After 12 hours, the cost for students is basically the same if they want to take more classes.
Kuhn said that the goal in setting up the fee schedule that way was to entice students to take more hours so they could graduate in four years.
Kuhn also outlined SRED tuition and free comparisons for LSU relative to its peers. Of 39 peer institutions, only nine of them fall below LSU in their tuition and fee costs. Kuhn also spoke about resident and non-resident costs and provided a historical view of LSU TOPS coverage of tuition and required fees.
When discussing the ability to take on more students, Kuhn said that some programs have the capacity in both current faculty and in classroom and lab space to take in more students, but other programs are already at capacity. This brings up the opportunity to differentiate costs of different programs, which is something that the task force has researched.
Kuhn provided information on LSU’s room and board charges and invited Steve Waller, director of LSU Residential Life, to provide more information on the changes that have taken place in Residential Life.
Waller provided an overview of the improvements and investments LSU has made to the residence halls on campus. Waller said that Residential Life has a goal to house 85 percent of the freshman class on campus.
“Not only have we significantly improved our facilities, our students are telling us they like what we’re doing,” said Waller, who also talked about the plans in place to renovate residence hall facilities on campus that haven’t already received renovations.
Danny Mahaffey, LSU director of Facility Planning, returned to the task force to speak about LSU System assets after his previous presentation on April 15. He answered questions from the task force about property sales and the LSU golf course.
The group discussed potential opportunities with the Charity hospital area in New Orleans and the possibilities for that area of downtown, among other opportunities for the System.
Slaughter concluded the meeting with a discussion of “Housing Monetization – Review of Deloitte Model and University of Kentucky.” To provide context relative to LSU, Waller provided differences between student housing at LSU and University of Kentucky.
“One shoe does not fit all,” Waller said.
“I’m not in the housing business,” he added. “We’re in the living-learning business.”
Task Forces have been formed to focus on specific areas of priority in the realignment process. During these meetings, testimony is provided by national and local subject matter experts. Reports and findings are discussed and input from the public is heard. Information from the Task Force meetings will become part of a final report to be submitted to LSU’s Transition Advisory Team and ultimately to the LSU Board of Supervisors.
Agendas for this and all LSU2015 sub-committee and task force group meetings can be found at http://www.lsu.edu/LSU2015/subcommittees_meeting_schedule.shtml. The names of Transition Advisory Team Sub-Committee members, along with Task Force Group members, are available at http://www.lsu.edu/LSU2015/subcommittees.shtml.
More information on LSU’s reorganization process can be found at http://www.lsu.edu/LSU2015. Information on the site includes meeting schedules, minutes and video and presentations from past meetings. Also, visit LSU’s reorganization Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/LSU2015transition.