Under the leadership of President Eighmy, UTSA has begun launching several presidential initiatives and strategic initiatives aimed at making UTSA a university providing transformational capabilities to its students. UTSA is poised to become more efficient and sustainable through the initiatives described above.
The Student Success Task Force will develop an integrated student success plan that includes goals, metrics, accountability, and self-assessment. The plan will adopt a student-focused strategy and consider a pipeline continuum from K-12 through recruitment, enrollment, academic progress, career services, and placement. This task force will examine best practices from other institutions and think expansively about administrative structure, accountability, and resources.
A second task force, the Strategic Enrollment Task Force, will develop an integrated strategic enrollment plan that includes goals, metrics, accountability, and self-assessment. The plan will adopt a creative, data analytics-driven strategy for strategic enrollment, examining the main and downtown campuses, as well as online offerings. The task force will create a set of guiding assumptions around work force needs, weighted semester credit hour production, and differentiated tuition, as well as capital, infrastructure, student services, and faculty line needs. Considerations will include the 60/30 TX Higher Education Plan (Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board) as well as the optimal mix of undergraduate and graduate students, in-state and out-of-state students, and international students.
With a focus on delivering operational and infrastructure excellence, the Finance and Budget Modeling Task Force will create a new budget model that is transparent, data-driven, supports entrepreneurship and innovation, and aligns resources needed for our strategic mission, vision, and themes. In addition to assessing our current financial practices, this task force will develop strategies to optimize our financial resources and our expenditures by adopting best financial practices. Additionally, a committee also is studying how to optimize credit hour production prior to the next legislative collection of semester credit hour produced for the base period.
UTSA annually assesses current processes and activities that can contribute to cost containment and develops plans for increased productivity and efficiency. For example, this past fall every unit on campus conducted a review of expenditures to achieve a 1.9% budget reduction in order to provide needed funding to support a merit program, which helps our retention and recruitment of high-quality faculty and staff. The university will continue the evaluation of job position vacancies, the consolidation of work functions, and the optimization of available resources.
The Facilities Division has been working since this summer to create operational efficiencies in utility consumption, collaborating with an academic department to execute a grant for rainwater harvesting, thereby saving water costs for the university and being more sustainable. The Police Department is working collaboratively with all UT system police departments to identify purchases that can be bundled for the entire UT System to procure, thereby achieving maximum cost savings. This program is currently being discussed to determine potential use in future.
The university launched a new e-procurement platform that takes advantage of showcase suppliers, which were vetted by the Purchasing Department and offer the best value for price and quality. The system offers greater buying power, thus lowering cost for departments. The university continues to review, re-evaluate, renegotiate contracts, and consolidate services for opportunities to lower costs, improve efficiency and productivity, and maintain safety. The program to limit our copier contracts from nine vendors to two has just starting its first year of operation and the university expects to see direct and indirect savings once all contracts are moved to the two preferred vendors.
The OIT Department canceled a consulting contract valued at $186,000 annually and is evaluating those services with a consortium research firm at a fraction of the annual costs provided by the major consultant. Another example from the Research Division was to deploy a less costly version of time and effort software this past year, resulting in overall savings. Student Affairs has reviewed services over the past two years, consolidating positions and using Skype to conduct student services at locations where a full-time staff member is not an effective use of resources.