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.

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