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Listening, Learning, Improving

January 28, 2015

Each year I try to visit every academic department on campus and many of the non-academic units, and I meet regularly with faculty and staff advisory groups. What I’ve heard from some of you is that the magnitude of institutional change during the last few years — primarily associated with the Changing for Excellence (CFE) initiatives — has at times been overwhelming. In some cases, it has created increased workload in certain administrative areas.

My staff and I take these concerns very seriously. In order to respond better to your needs, and as we approach completion of many of the CFE initiatives, our focus for 2015 is to improve our processes, systems, and service delivery.

The new CFE website provides information on all aspects of CFE. To date, after deducting our initial project investments, we have realized net savings of almost $1.5 million. Going forward, we expect annual administrative expenses to be about $3.3 million, annual savings to be $11.8 million, and annual cost avoidance to be an additional $2 million. These savings are crucial for KU’s continued progress on our strategic plan Bold Aspirations and to overcome daunting infrastructure challenges. Many of the tangible projects enabled by CFE savings are listed in the November 3 issue of Provost eNews

Listening and learning: Continual monitoring of performance

Performance metrics, feedback, and levels of satisfaction are all tracked on the CFE website. We continually monitor how we are doing, learn from the feedback, and use it to drive improvements in the services we provide. You can find performance metrics and satisfaction surveys for facilities services, IT, and Shared Service Center (SSC) posted for your review. In particular, I hope you will spend some time studying the SSC satisfaction surveys conducted over the past two years. They have led to steadily improved services.

We know that more work is needed, and we are optimistic based upon survey results thus far. Further, SSC leadership is partnering with the central offices to facilitate progress in all aspects of our administrative processes, which many faculty and staff associate with the SSCs. In particular, we are directing our computer system and staff resources to improve the usability of Travel and Expense, HR/Payroll, graduate appointments, KUPPS, and BudCast. As part of these ongoing efforts, we plan to conduct an additional campus wide satisfaction survey in March.

BudCast progress, plans, and help resources

BudCast exemplifies one of the central administrative systems that faculty and staff interact with via SSCs, and we are working on several enhancements. On January 21, our team announced to BudCast users that vendor information is now included in the transactional-level detail within our BudCast reports and views. They are also working toward making payroll detail data available, and we anticipate that BudCast will include these data later this semester.

BudCast training now includes some helpful advances, such as improved reference materials pertinent to principal investigators, where you can find handy quick reference and video guides and learn how to install the report viewer on your workstation.

If you’d like help in person, on each Friday afternoon the BudCast support staff hold an open session from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. in room 31 of Carruth-O’Leary Hall. This time is available for any BudCast user to drop in with general questions and seek personalized help about reading reports or system navigation. You can also access the BudCast staff at any time at budcastsupport@ku.edu and 785-864-5686. Our staff would be happy to arrange group sessions (e.g., within departments) if desired.

Your budget manager and SSC contact are the most knowledgeable individuals to address questions concerning your projects and cost centers. Each SSC with grant reporting responsibilities is systematically contacting all the academic departments it will service. However, if you have questions or concerns prior to this time, the SSC team will be happy to visit your department.

Smoothing transitions into Shared Service Centers

For faculty and staff who are interested in the SSC implementation process for their units, I invite you to look at the services provided by the centers, what a typical implementation timeline looks like, FAQs, and some Fact or Fiction points of interest that together explain the process we use to transition a unit into the SSC.

As always, my staff and I value your feedback, suggestions, and support. Diane Goddard, vice provost for administration and finance, heads the CFE effort and joins me in encouraging you to reach out to us at adminfin@ku.edu with your questions or concerns. I look forward to a productive and successful 2015!

Bits and Bytes

  • President Obama’s visit last week to the Lawrence campus was a historic moment in the life of this campus. It was also a Herculean effort of logistics. I would like to thank each and every one of you who assisted with tickets, setup, cleanup, security and safety, hospitality, media, and parking. It was all masterfully done. Special thanks go to Charlie Persinger, Joe Monaco, and Wendy Bridges, who were on point for coordination of the events. Thank you all!
  • On February 9–11 we welcome the visiting accreditation team from the Higher Learning Commission for a regularly scheduled 10-year reaccreditation review. You can access KU’s comprehensive self-study report, along with an executive summary and schedule information, on our HLC website. Special thanks go to the steering committee, led by educational leadership and policy studies professor and chair Susan Twombly, for its diligent work.
  • KU Innovation and Collaboration (KUIC) will offer a seminar on the topic of obtaining NSF Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR/STTR) grants. It will take place Tuesday, February 3 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Chamber Room at the Bioscience and Technology Business Center, 2029 Becker Drive. The speaker is Michael Kurek, Partner, BBC Entrepreneurial Training and Consulting. Information and registration are available online. Bold Aspirations visitor Charles Brooks from the University of Michigan will give a talk entitled “Understanding Robustness in Biology’s Molecular Machines” on Monday, February 2 at 3:30pm in the Adams Alumni Center.
  • The Commons, with the support of the Kenneth A. Spencer Lecture Fund, is pleased to present poet and novelist Margaret Atwood, who will speak on “ Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?: The Arts, The Sciences, The Humanities, the Inhumanities, and the Non-Humanities. Zombies Thrown In Extra.” The talk takes place on Monday, February 2 at 7:00 p.m. in the Kansas Union Ballroom.
  • Bold Aspirations visitor John Hansen from the University of Texas at Dallas will speak on “Speaker & Noise Variability — Making Future Speech & Language Systems Robust” on Tuesday, February 10 at 3:30pm in The Commons in Spooner Hall.
Provost's Message Signature: 

Rock Chalk!
  -- Jeff

Jeffrey S. Vitter

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor

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