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Strategic priorities recommendations yield early results

12/09/2011

An improving financial report was delivered to Miami University trustees at the Dec. 9 meeting, due to many steps the university has taken to boost revenues and reduce operating costs. Such steps come via strategic priorities initiatives developed by a task force of universitywide staff and faculty.

University assets for the fiscal year that ended June 30 rose 18.6 percent. Miami’s operating expenditures decreased $2.5 million for the past fiscal year.

To address the still challenging economic climate, and the $13.3 million reduction in state appropriations in the current fiscal year, David Creamer, vice president for finance and business services, reported to trustees that the university’s 2012 operating budget includes $7.9 million to be realized from strategic priorities initiatives. Among those initiatives are greatly refined purchasing and procurement procedures.

Part of the academic divisions’ response to strategic priorities review includes a 25 percent reduction in the number of course sections with under-enrolled (fewer than 10 students) for spring semester. In the student affairs division, the processes for student organization funding have been improved and rules tightened. The IT department and finance and business services have collaborated to develop an institutional analytics model, providing better data and information for university decision-makers tasked with operating more efficiently and identifying new revenue opportunities to help offset declines in state support.

In a presentation to the board, Debra Allison, vice president for information technology, outlined progress on IT’s goals for improving efficiency and reducing its budget. IT at Miami has reduced its staffing and budget by 20 percent since 2008.

In actions taken at the meeting:

  • Trustees affirmed the appointment this week of Phyllis Callahan, professor of zoology, as dean of the College of Arts and Science effective Jan. 12, 2012. Callahan has acted as interim dean since Jan. 1, 2011.

  • Trustees voted to maintain the existing spending formula for the endowment fund.

  • Trustees approved changing the name of the department of decision sciences and management information
    systems to department of information systems and analytics, in the Farmer School of Business.

  • Trustees also responded to a biennial state request for a six-year capital improvement request. No funding had been appropriated in the previous biennium, so trustees ratified the December 2011 request and voted to submit a fiscal year 2013-2018 capital improvement request for $14.7 million for the Oxford, Hamilton and Middletown campuses.

  • Trustees approved amendments to board regulations.

More than 20 mechanical, electrical, safety or other renovation and construction projects were completed in the last three months, per a report by Robert Keller, associate vice president for facilities planning and operations.

Sue Henry, chair of the trustee academic and student affairs committee, summarized a report of the numerous support services offered through student affairs to help students succeed academically.

Board officers were elected for the coming year: Don Crain as chair, Sharon Mitchel as vice chair, David Herche as treasurer and Dennis Lieberman as secretary.

Trustees recognized Steve Snyder, who is retiring after 41 years at Miami, both as a student and employee. Since 1997 he has served as executive assistant to the president and secretary to the board of trustees.

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