Strucutral changes should increase efficiency, save UI money

The University’s Board of Trustees is meeting Thursday to discuss and vote on several pressing items, including approving next year’s operating budget.

But what is not on the agenda is what to do with the University’s administrative branch – at least not yet.

Two vastly different structural changes to the administrative hierarchy have been proposed within the last five months. In May, the board approved a measure that sought to consolidate two of the three vice presidential positions at the University – the top players after the president and the board – in an effort to reduce spending and increase performance efficiency.

Now, however, the University is reviewing a plan created by the Administrative Restructuring and Review team that looks for a different way to create a more efficient administrative system and save money. This plan calls for, among other things, creating a new vice president in charge of health-related enterprises on all three University campuses. These range from the University hospital to the College of Medicine.

As counterintuitive as it may seem, adding another vice president could, conceivably, reduce unnecessary administrative expenditures. It could be that coordinating health services better is the way to streamline that huge element of the University’s budget and operations.

If there are other positions to be cut, other layers which can be simplified, then this may well be an avenue worth pursuing.

If, and only if.

If adding a fourth vice presidential position instead of consolidating two is going to make things more complex, more administrator-heavy, and – this is key – more expensive, then it’s the wrong solution.

The burden of proof lies with the administration and the board to demonstrate to the University community that this move really will benefit the University, help us to steward our health services better, cut down on costs and streamline administrative overload. It’s still early in the process, so it’s understandable that those figures do not exist yet – but we should be watching for them. And they should know we’re watching for them.

University Spokesman Thomas Hardy said while none of these plans are final, the University is working as quickly as possible to consolidate and streamline the administrative process in order to reap the benefits of smaller expenditures and better organization. As they should. But only as long as they take the time to review their options and choose what is in the best interests of the faculty, staff and ultimately, the students.