C-Level View :: July 12, 2006

Worth Noting

University of Minnesota Reorganization Takes Hold

One of the boldest realignments of academic programs in the institution’s history, which had been in progress since an announcement one year ago, took effect July 1. Along with other functional units, the university’s IT organization has basically reinvented the way it works with the reorganized collegiate units.

University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota now has 17 colleges instead of 20. The move was made both to ­create new synergies among academic disciplines and to increase efficiencies – to save an estimated $3 to $4 million in operational expenses over the next two to three years. The University of Minnesota’s Office of Information Technology (OIT), which is the central IT leadership for all of the University of Minnesota’s campuses, had a major role in the planning process, along with representatives from other management disciplines on the central site.

The Office of Human Resources, the Finance Office, the Alumni/Development Office, and others, along with OIT, were charged with helping the merging colleges develop an organizational plan, both in terms of how those units will function and how they will work with the central organizations. “We worked very collaboratively and in a wonderful spirit with the collegiate units,” says Bernard Gulachek, planning director for the University of Minnesota’s Office of Information Technology. “We evaluated all the services that were provided at the local level, along with the services that were provided centrally, with the goal of eliminating duplication where there wasn’t any competitive advantage.”

The planning meetings were also very strategically focused, explains Gulachek. “This was an opportunity for the collegiate units to think about how they might use technologies to further their competitive advantage and how they might use IT resources to maximize their unique missions within the institution.” Gulachek stresses the importance of bringing everyone – both the central organizations and the colleges – together in the planning process. “It’s absolutely crucial to involve the decision makers within the collegiate units, because they know their operations and their customer base better than anyone. It would be a huge mistake for the central shop to prescribe what the answer is. It’s a collaborative process – a team effort – one that is constantly focused on the vision and the mission of the institution, [represents] the core values, and provides a compass – the direction we know we need to go in to be successful.”

The University of Minnesota’s Web site has a detailed summary of the university’s academic program realignments.

Aloha and Announcement from Kuali

At the Campus of the Future conference, a joint event of the Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers (APPA), the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), and the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP)held earlier this week in Honolulu, Hawaii, the Kuali Foundation and the University of California announced that the UC would join Kuali as an investing partner in the development of the Kuali Financial System (KFS), the community source financial system based on open standards.


Mike Allred, Kristine Hafner & Barry Walsh

Three of the UC campuses – UC Davis, UC Irvine, and UC Santa Barbara – along with the UC Office of the President will be investing resources in the ongoing development effort. Associate Vice Chancellor, Finance/Controller J. Michael Allred of UC Davis will serve as their Kuali Board representative. Associate Vice President, Information Resources and Communications and CIO Kristine Hafner, of the UC Office of the President, explained that the institution’s commitment to community source development is a way to address critical business and administrative needs, and that the UC campuses have a strong interest in collaborating to gain efficiencies. Barry Walsh, who is the executive director for the KFS initiative and senior director of e-Business Services at Indiana University, commented on the addition of the UC partners. “I’ve known Mike, Kris, and many of the key UC players for some time and felt that they would make really valuable partners going forward,” he said.

The Kuali Project was launched in 2004, and in 2005 it received a $2.5 million grant from the Mellon Foundation. The design for Kuali financials is based on Indiana University’s financial information system, and the project has attracted the participation of several partners, including Cornell University , Indiana University, Michigan State University, San Joaquin Delta College, the rSmart Group, the University of Arizona, the University of Hawaii, and NACUBO.

The first Kuali “test drive” was unveiled this past spring, and the first release is expected this coming fall. The Kuali Foundation incorporated in May 2006 as a not-for-profit organization and is expected to take on additional community source administrative software development projects in the future. Plans are already in the works for projects in endowment, research administration, and other relevant administrative computing areas. The Kuali Foundation and its partners will eventually produce an entire suite of open software for higher education administration computing, useful to all Carnegie classes.

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