The University of Hartford embarked on Foundation of the Future as one of four initiatives begun in 2011 to prepare the University of Hartford for future opportunities and challenges. Foundation of the Future is a process that helps us link planning to resource allocation so we can invest in programs, both Academic and Administrative, that will make this institution even stronger in the future. Based on a review and prioritization of academic and administrative programs, the process will help us meet the goal of determining where to reallocate and focus the University’s resources without increasing the overall budget.
As President Harrison outlined in his Faculty and Staff Fall Kickoff message, the other three initiatives are the Libraries Master Plan, the Commission on Full-time Faculty Compensation, and the Branding and Marketing Plan.
The joint report of the Academic and Administrative Task Forces is a compilation of the two reports that summarize the recommendations forwarded to President Harrison this summer. It includes the Task Forces’ recommendations on which University programs should be invested in, maintained as they are, restructured for savings or efficiency, or divested in the coming years.
The joint report enables all of us to be aware of the programs being recommended for investment, the programs that are recommended to be maintained, and those that are recommended to be restructured or divested. The report contains recommendations and observations of the two Task Forces and begins to indicate the areas and programs that could become priorities in the future.
The Task Forces’ recommendations have been discussed by University officers and with the Council of Deans. Officers are considering any new data or information, noting revenue implications, and projecting implementation timelines. Discussions with other individuals, groups and committees will take place as needed.
Faculty, staff, and regents are invited to read the recommendations and submit questions via email to FOTF@hartford.edu or during Town Hall meetings scheduled for Tuesday, September 25th and Monday, October 1. Numerous officers will review comments and any new data obtained since the Task Forces’ review of the program reports, look at projected budget implications, and determine the feasibility of the recommendations.
The University will follow its published and stated policies and procedures as it moves to implementation.
The Task Forces’ work in compiling the recommendations is complete. The two committees managed the review process, conducted the review, and provided their best judgments in prioritizing programs and making recommendations as presented in their joint report. The final decisions on which recommendations will be accepted and implemented will be made by President Harrison in consultation with the Board of Regents.
It is anticipated that an implementation plan with the final actions and a timeline will be completed during the Fall 2012 semester. Board approval of the budget implications of the final report is anticipated before the end of the Fall 2012 semester.
During the consideration phase, circumstances may become apparent that will make a recommendation not feasible to implement. If this occurs, officers will give a clear rationale in the final implementation report as to why the Task Force recommendation cannot be followed.
Releasing the joint Task Forces’ report while the final implementation plan is being developed speaks to the transparency of Foundation of the Future. As unsettling as it may be, it is best to share this information now that it is complete. This allows all stakeholders to be knowledgeable about the Task Forces' recommendations as an implementation plan is crafted.
The Task Forces have concluded a review and prioritization process that was deliberate, thorough, and fair in applying the agreed-upon criteria to each program and it was conducted by peers. While it is not 100 percent certain that all recommendations can be implemented as written in the report, the officers are taking the recommendations very seriously.
This is an important step in our continued progress to live our mission and our values. Our goal is to remain a strong and viable University that engages students in acquiring the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to thrive in and contribute to a pluralistic, complex world well into the future. Not unlike hundreds of other higher education institutions across the nation, the University has arrived at a point in its history where, given the economy of the nation and world, it is evident that growth in University revenues will increase only slightly in coming years while the need to augment our competitive quality is increasing dramatically.
Our current economic outlook is steady enrollment, modest tuition increases, and modest gains in giving. Yet the environment in which we must compete for students, now and going forward, is not modest, it is intense. In our current circumstance, we cannot increase our competitive quality, enhance our reputation, and build our brand so we can sustain and build toward an even more robust future.
We have a long list of aspirations and needs. We believe that reallocation of resources is our best option for having funds to address this list, both in the near- and long-term.
Foundation of the Future helps the University prioritize its academic programs and administrative programs and services. In this sense, while it is not a strategic plan, it is the basis on which the University’s strategic plan will be built. If we plan well and make wise choices that reflect and build upon our strengths and our character, we will be a stronger, better positioned, better known University as a result.
The strategic planning process, informed by Foundation of the Future’s review/prioritization process, will focus on identifying the major themes that we will pursue over the next five years and represent the major opportunity targets for the University. This planning process will not only identify these key directions but will also produce the vision for how and what will have changed by the end of that five-year period.
Two Task Forces, Academic and Administrative, began the review and prioritization process in 2011 and completed it in 2012. The Task Forces were either all faculty (Academic Task Force) or faculty and staff (Administrative Task Force), thus making Foundation of the Future a peer review, criteria- referenced process.
Each Task Force defined “program” in reference to their charge. The Academic Task Force focused on undergraduate majors, graduate programs, stand-alone minors, and other programs that generate student credit hours, including the Jackie McLean Fellowship. They defined an academic program as “one that utilizes institutional resources (fiscal, physical plant, equipment, time) and occurs ‘in a classroom, lab, studio or in academic service.” The final list contained 152 programs.
The Administrative Task Force defined a program as “a discrete administrative functional unit or department that utilizes institutional resources (fiscal, physical plant, equipment, time).” The final list contained 98 programs.
Next, the Task Forces established criteria and weighting for each criterion.
The Academic Task Force criteria and weighting was:
The Administrative Task Force criteria and weighting was:
Then report templates were developed and distributed to department chairs and program directors. The templates asked for information and data related to each criterion.
Each Task Force met dozens of times for several hours each meeting to review the submitted program reports. Ultimately, using the information provided from the submitted reports and data as well as the criteria weights to assess each program in relation to other programs, each Task Force provided a report of its recommendations to University administration that recommends each reviewed program for investment, maintenance, restructuring, or divestment.
The Task Forces devised criteria that were useful in their deliberations and utilized data that has been utilized historically for decision-making and planning. The data provided to the Administrative Task Forces consisted of:
The data provided to the Academic Task Force was organized around the academic year student-semester-credit-hour generation of each program and consisted of:
The Task Forces were charged with undertaking a review of academic and administrative programs with consideration of 1) University-wide impact or importance, 2) clearly demonstrated demand and/or importance, and 3) greater benefit than cost. The charge expected decision-making to reflect the University’s strategic directions, shared values, and mission.
Based on the reviews, the Task Forces were asked to prioritize each program and then place it in one of four categories: invest, maintain, restructure or divest.
Each Task Force had a monetary reallocation goal amount equal to seven percent of the total budget of the programs under review.
As the process unfolded, complexities and other considerations were discovered that required adjustment. To maintain the integrity of the process, the Academic task force target was revised to 7 percent of the base financial reports provided to the Academic Task Force. The final amounts identified for reallocation by the two Task Forces are
Academic Task Force - $3,780,000
Administrative Task Force - $3,108,000
Reallocated funds will be invested in programs and services that reflect the University’s strengths and allow us to grow in new directions based on our current strengths and student demand.
The timeline for the entire FOTF process has been more than a full year, beginning with work started in the spring of 2011 to assess readiness and institutional will to undertake this exercise. Added time to become familiar with various approaches to the process, educate the administration, Faculty Senate, and others of a process model developed and articulated by Robert Dickeson in his book, Prioritizing Academic Program and Services: Reallocating Resources to Achieve Strategic Balance as a blueprint for moving forward, create the Task Forces, undertake preparatory work with them, their process of identifying criteria, weightings, data, and report format, then educate the program directors, led us to a deadline of summer 2012 for Task Force completion. This more than year-long process must now be completed with development of an implementation plan.
To begin the reallocation process and, therefore, begin to strengthen the University for the future, we should work toward making an impact on FY 2014 budget planning. In order to do this, the more near-term implications of the plan must be considered in a number of planning meetings in fall 2012 and approved by the Board of Regents.
The purpose of Foundation of the Future is to reallocate, not reduce, the budget. The Task Forces were asked to identify current budget funds for reallocation, not for elimination. It is true that reallocating funds from one program to another will result in the elimination or restructuring of some University programs, but, in addition to recommending programs for divestment, the joint report also recommends programs for investment.
Because of contractual obligations and the need to phase-out rather than immediately cut certain programs, it may take up to five years to realize the entire pool of funds for reallocation, so the impact of reallocated funds in areas designated for investment may not be immediately apparent.
Yes, the targeted amount for reallocation will remain the same even if the officers find that certain recommendations cannot be implemented in full or in part. If a program recommended for divestment or restructuring ultimately is not divested or changed, that will necessitate that the administration identify other areas from which funds will be reallocated.
A well-established model used by higher education institutions across the nation was used for the initiative we call Foundation of the Future. The program review work of both Task Forces was guided by a process model developed and articulated by Robert Dickeson in his book Prioritizing Academic Program and Services: Reallocating Resources to Achieve Strategic Balance. The model provided a broad planning architecture for the work and was adapted as needed in consultation with consultant Larry Goldstein, Campus Strategies LLC.
Each task force had co-chairs who were members of the peer group. Provost Sharon Vasquez and Vice President of Finance and Administration Arosha Jayawickrema served as the process “champions,” providing support to the co-chairs, removing obstacles to completion, and helping the process stay on track and on schedule. They did not participate, nor did Goldstein, in the Task Force meetings and were not part of the confidential deliberation and review phases of the Task Forces’ work.
The Task Forces established and widely publicized the review criteria and sought campus-wide input on the criteria and the weighting. The charge to the Task Force, the rationale for the process and adopted principles, criteria, and weightings were posted on the Foundation of the Future website and comments were invited, reviewed and, in many cases, utilized. Informational forums were conducted by Vasquez, Jayawickrema, the Task Force co-chairs and task force members. Updates were presented to various audiences throughout the process. Task Force co-chairs organized educational sessions specifically for program directors to clarify data, criteria, and report formats.
The entire University community was invited to presentations on the review process, timeline, and criteria/weightings. Because the same criteria/weightings were applied to each reviewed program, the Foundation of the Future process was consistent and impartial.
Based on operational procedures adopted by the Task Forces and stated throughout the process, having access to the submitted reports and data absent the preparatory training and background on the criteria and weights received by Task Force members would not be beneficial to advancing this initiative. The University community had the opportunity to help develop, comment on and review the templates used to review the programs. The Task Forces’ joint report is the only report being released for community review.
The Task Forces’ recommendations are being given serious consideration by the officers. As the final implementation plan is developed and released, some divested programs will not result in job eliminations, however, some will. The University recognizes that job loss will be stressful for every affected employee and will undertake measures to aid affected employees during the implementation stage.
When the implementation plan is finalized, it will include a schedule of steps and actions to be implemented in the restructure category. The steps will be developed by the officers in consultation with various deans, department heads, and supervisors.
As the joint Task Forces’ report and recommendations are considered by the officers, specifics about final budget reallocations will be outlined in the implementation plan.
The implementation plan will note that investments will occur over time as funds are allocated from divest and restructure categories. Additionally, the strategic planning process will play a strong role in defining the University’s key directions, including new initiatives, over the next five years.
All decisions in the implementation plan will be final.