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Deloitte proposes major structural shifts at UI

BY CHRIS HIGGINS | OCTOBER 03, 2014 5:00 AM

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Hundreds of job positions could vanish at Iowa universities, resulting in millions of dollars saved if recent recommendations to the state Board of Regents were to go into effect.

Representatives from Deloitte Consulting, which is leading the regents’ ongoing efficiency study, presented eight new business plans to cut costs in Iowa’s three universities at Thursay’s meeting.
Six proposals applied to the University of Iowa.

Most notably, they suggested changes to streamline the human resources, finance, and information-technology sectors at each university, resulting in a net loss of jobs. UI could stand to cut nearly 110 positions as a result over a few years.

The regents have conracted more than $3 million to Deloitte as part of the efficiency study, officially titled the Transparent, Inclusive Efficiency Review. The review was initiated in light of skyrocketing tuition after legislative funding for the universities has precipitously dropped over the past 15 years.

The Thursday meeting was a presentation of Deloitte’s ideas, which will now go up for public discussion next week in town hall meetings on all three campuses. The regents are expected to vote on approving the recommendations in November.

Representatives and officials were quick to point out individuals would not necessarily lose jobs as a result of these possible cuts; instead, positions may be left unfilled, eventually disappearing altogether.

“It would be irresponsible to say that job cuts were happening when, if there are savings to be had by improvements in the technology … the decrease in the labor needs could be accomplished through normal attrition as people retire or leave,” said Regent President Bruce Rastetter.

In total, the UI, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa would lose around 250 positions with Deloitte’s recommendations.

According to Deloitte’s report, the proposals could save the UI nearly $88 million over a 10-year period, should they be implemented.

“Any savings in those areas would be reinvested in the universities to make programs better and to hold the cost of tuition of a college education lower than if you had not dealt with inefficiencies,” Rastetter said.

Deloitte consultants recommended organizational structures for information technology, human resources, and finance become more streamlined.

For example, many of UI’s current human-resource representatives do not report to a central authority and have responsibilities outside of their department.

“… because they’re somewhat of generalists, and they’re involved in other areas, it makes it difficult for them to keep track of all HR processes and policies and creates inefficiencies in some areas,” said Emily Todd, Deloitte senior consultant. “We were talking to some departments that are thrilled with their service and other departments, not so much depending on how many resources and what types of resources you have dedicated to HR.”

Deloitte project manager Virginia Fraser emphasized during the presentation that the business plans are merely a guide and are not intended to provide an explicit prediction of costs and cuts. Implementation would be left to the regents and the universities.

“Transformation does require some venturing into the unknown,” she said.


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