A message from Provost Rogan Kersh and Senior Vice President Hof Milam.
Wake Forest’s Strategic Resources Initiative was launched in fall 2012 to identify sources of new revenue and cost savings that could be applied to student financial aid, faculty and staff compensation, and other strategic University priorities, including academic programs and facilities. As our work began, the financial outlook for higher education across the U.S. remained worrisome, even as internal financial pressures continued to mount. The target SRI goal of $5-10 million in recurring operating funds is the equivalent of receiving a new endowment of $100-200 million. The Initiative is a vital part of our strategy to establish Wake Forest on more solid financial ground.
In April 2013 after the initial year of work, the SRI Steering Committee (membership at Appendix A of the full report) issued a ‘discussion draft’ with $6.2 million in cost reductions and revenue increases over time. Several WFU-wide presentations followed, along with many informal group and individual conversations; ultimately, faculty and staff provided valuable feedback resulting in changes to several SRI recommendations.
Realized savings and revenue increases from SRI recommendations were approximately $3 million in FY13. These funds were allocated as follows:
The revised set of recommendations from the first year is provided in the full report: go.wfu.edu/srispring2014. The report is organized into four broad categories: Business Processes, Procurement, Technology, and Benefits. While changes to our initial recommendations reduced the anticipated savings from several initiatives not yet implemented, realized savings in excess of projections on other initiatives indicate that our estimate of a little over $6 million in cost reductions and revenue increases is still on target.
The report also provides extensive detail on the proposed new parking fee for faculty and staff, given its swift emergence last year as an especially prominent discussion item. To summarize our revised parking recommendation:
Additional details of the parking program will be available as the new Parking Guidelines are released.
As the full report also details, our committee revised a number of other initial recommendations, including the tuition-benefit policy.
Continued attention to spending patterns and revenue sources is essential to Wake Forest’s sustaining our core purpose as well as exploring new ambitions. The Committee therefore has continued its work in 2013-14. The focus in this second year has been in two primary areas – new and or enhanced sources of revenue (our committee’s first year was focused almost exclusively on expenses) and improved business processes in the human resources and compensation areas.
The Committee’s discussions about new sources of revenue focused on three areas: short-term opportunities which could be realized within 12-18 months, mid-term opportunities that could be implemented in two or three years with the appropriate research and development, and long-term opportunities which, while plausible ideas, may take three or more years and/or considerable investment to realize. A broader discussion of these revenue opportunities can also be found in the full report.
The business process improvement project has been a multi-departmental exercise to look at our back office business practices in human resources and compensation, identifying areas of excessive manual labor, as well as opportunities for technology solutions. Rick Matthews and several members of his team have been instrumental in identifying technology solutions to bridge these “pain points.” Again, more detail is provided in the full report.
As we did last year, we anticipate broader campus discussions of these additional initiatives in coming months. While these opportunities also have the potential for significant contributions to our SRI efforts, there will be a slower implementation time given the nature of these projects.
We look forward to your valued feedback on these additional SRI initiatives.