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Cost Saving Ideas

These are ideas that were received and processed through April 22, 2011. More suggestions will be added periodically.

  • I suggest ending some administrative positions, administrative furloughs and administrative salary cuts.

    Close the University on Fridays completely.

  • Eliminate all private phones, especially from faculty offices. We have email, cell phones and BB/Vista to communicate with colleagues and students.

    Form different task forces to examine each department to eliminate unnecessary costs.

    Have a hiring freeze and travel reduction for administrators, staff and faculty. Yet travel for junior faculty must be available and they must be awarded one trip a year. Presenting at conferences and networking are two major and necessary activities.

    Engage students in cost reduction.

    Increase hybrid courses and coordinate classrooms accordingly.

    Use the slow economy to increase expansion.

    Develop ideas to make online degrees marketable nationwide.

    Identify ways to increase enrollment (late start, mini-semesters, eight-week semesters). The winter semester was successful, but we have heard of a mini-semester during May.

  • Raising the thermostat 1 or 2 degrees in hot months and lowering it 1 or 2 degrees in cold months might help save a little money and people would not be that uncomfortable. In fact, there are many areas in which people are using space heaters because it is so cold. And that raises the electric bill, too.
  • Save money in the summer from May to August on electricity by having staff (or faculty if possible) work Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a 30-minute lunch and work on Fridays from 8 a.m. to noon. An example of this program was at Prairie View A&M University. If a cost analysis can be conducted for this time, maybe UHD can save over $300,000.

    If furloughs are approved, have staff select the day they want; then add/create a personal leave of eight hours (one time in a fiscal year) for each employee to use for a religious holiday, their birthday, or an EXTRA day during the winter break.

  • I believe that projects should be done in-house by facilities' employees. Although a lot would have to be done on overtime, the savings could still be 30-50% from having outside contractors doing the work. We all know that projects are very expensive but a $100,000 job could be done for 30-50 thousand dollars less. That sure sounds good. UHD has quality electricians, ac, and carpenters that could do the work if given the appropriate time, being that we would still be doing maintenance and operations.
  • A number of the professional staffers have advanced degrees that qualify us to teach. Many of us would gladly teach a section a semester as part of our regular duties. I know I'd be more than willing to teach a section for free - particularly if it reduced the possibility of furloughs or that a colleague would be laid off.
  • If there are new positions that will be filled, starting salaries could be much lower to save money over a number of years. If the candidate doesn't want to come at that salary, at least the money will be saved and existing faculty will not be demoralized by having someone new at a salary close to theirs in what looks to be times of few raises in the future.
  • I think we should have been informed of all items on the state proposed 'cutting block' along with the possible benefit increases. That info would affect the ranking of the choices. I am not opposed to furloughs but what was suggested at the Town Hall meeting (one per month) and in the survey (four per year) is way too ambitious for UHD! Central campus did not go to this extreme. If every employee at UHD will not be participating or plan to hide behind contracts, this is no way equitable. This is not about equal giving but should most certainly be about equal sacrifice. Changing the culture of an organization starts at the top and filters down. It sure makes for an easier buy-in to what is being proposed. UH began by soliciting voluntary furloughs. Why don't we take a stab at that? What will it hurt?
  • Close building operations down on Fridays during the summer months.
  • I am really happy to see the idea of on-line fee statements finally being implemented. Great job!
  • One area besides saving money would also be a "green" idea, that is for all to stop ordering bottled water. The spring water of old is rare. Facilities Management has connected some departments here at UHD with water dispensers that filter city water. This would greatly cut cost and earn UHD "green" points.

    Another "green" idea would be to stop wasting paper towels, and install the new "XLERATOR" hand dyers.

    Look for better deals at hotels when you go to a conference rather than automatically staying at the ones the brochures list.

  • I came to UHD two years ago from another state that also has economic challenges. One thing that they did to save money was take the phones out of all professors' offices. Of course, the Chair's phone remained, and all people in administrative positions retained their phones, but regular professors no longer have them. This might work at UHD. The VAST majority of my students contact me by email or via Blackboard or during office hours. My phone rings about twice a semester. Other faculty have told me that their phones never ring either.
  • Building Energy management ideas:

    • Roof tops shall be painted appropriately (i.e. white) to conserve energy.

    • Windows shall be tinted to make HVAC efficient.

    • Selected rooms shall be provided with motion sensors to open/ shutoff lights.

    • Evening classes shall be grouped and scheduled first to lower floors in blocks to conserve energy.

    • HVAC, lighting and refrigeration systems shall be programmed to turn on/off at properly scheduled times.

    • Glassed vestibules shall be installed at main building entrances.

    • Newer, more efficient florescent light fixtures shall replace older ones.

    • Personnel shall not be allowed to stay after work to do personal work.

    • Plumbing fixtures and paper dispensers shall be retrofitted with automatic sensors.

    • We should also research and apply for energy-incentive refunds and rebates from federal and state agencies.

    Parking and parking lot ideas:

    • Redesign parking lots so they are more efficient.

    • Inspect staff parking for code violations and inefficiencies.

  • Remove stipends for teaching online and teaching at distant locations.
  • Move student course evaluations online; eliminating the cost of Scantron forms and pencils.
  • Consider the possibility of faculty buyouts for faculty with many years of service.
  • The New Horizon news magazine is placed in various locations throughout the UHD campus and can be picked up by anyone on campus who has an interest whether student, faculty, staff or visitor. To mail the news magazine to alumni and others who are in some "academic" sense connected to UHD would be more feasible.
  • One redundant position that each college currently has is the position of Associate Dean. I think that position should be re-evaluated to make sure that it is really needed in these times of budget cuts.
  • The CCSDS has done a lot of good work in the past. However, with its director on leave, it is not clear what services it currently provides, how effective those services are, and at what cost to the university they are provided. There are five offices and a receptionist front office, but only one faculty currently occupies that space. The center should be audited to determine how much of its costs and space can be cut.
  • I suggest we advise faculty to explore custom textbook contracts with interested publishers.
  • Freeze new hires and cut the number of vice presidents.
  • Stop the name change efforts and just increase the marketing of the UHD name. Students were NEVER asked if they thought the name should be changed. Faculty was not (to my recollection) asked if the name should be changed. We were only asked what the new name should be. I realize that the UH Board of Regents endorsed this. However, what do the legislators say about this?
  • Do away with Business Managers in each college. We did without these for over 20 years. They were only added 1-3 years ago for audit purposes and an additional review for the balance/check process. However, it seems they are mostly only an additional step in the signature process. What value have they added/benefited UHD? Is that value worth the cost of these costly positions?
  • College web developers in each college: We did without these for over 20 years. They were only added 3-5 years ago. It seems they are mostly only assisting with very, very minor efforts and few web pages. The UHD web developers and/or the one from Public Affairs should be enough for the colleges since the college/dept websites follow the university templates and the departments' faculty/staff manage their own dept websites already. From what I have seen (as a CS graduate with web development experience), the amount of web development work that these individuals are performing should be done within 1-2 months rather than 12-month full-time appointments. If anything, hire our CS / CIS students part-time 10-20 hours per week (to help them gain experience and build their resumes); they can easily do this minor work.
  • UHD should investigate ways to lower electricity costs by thinking green such as installing solar panels to supplement electricity.
  • I think that we could save some money by doing the following: Eliminate, for the time being, the overnight cleaning crew that empties our wastebaskets. I think we can all dispose of our own office trash each night before we go home. We can have a large wastebasket in each faculty lounge or we can dispose of our trash in the large grey trashcans in the hall. My trash is usually paper which can be recycled. We can keep our full-time UHD custodians to clean the restrooms and mop the floors and empty the large receptacles. Also eliminate, for the time being, international conference travel. During our current economic troubles, it's hard to justify to the taxpayers of Texas attending a conference in Finland, the UK, Holland, or Mongolia. I think it should be limited to the US and Canada and preference should be given to untenured faculty who need these conference appearances in order to receive promotion and tenure.
  • Postpone the name change. Having lived through a name change at a previous institution, I think the timing of the change should be considered.
  • I would suggest reevaluating the UHD buses that run between the buildings. Those buses are 90% empty on most days. I believe it is less than a mile from the big student parking lot to the One Main Building. As student, I walked at least 1.5 miles each day to the cafeteria, 1-2 miles to my first class depending on the dormitory that I lived in. In these times of high obesity, I think the students should be walking for their health and our budget.
  • Establish a moratorium on non-essential travel for tenured faculty members (non-tenured members should be allowed to attend one conference per year on a strict budget) and staff.

    Eliminate distance education stipends, and stop paying avoidable overloads and overtime.

    Institute a firm hiring freeze for ALL faculty and staff. Why are we currently searching for 18 new faculty members?

    Remove telephones from faculty member offices for those faculty members who do not use them. I do not use mine nor do I use voice mail. Students are asked to write me emails on Vista. If I need to speak with my students, I give them my cell number.

    Eliminate free food and beverages for faculty and staff.

    Change the computer rotation to 4 years. I know this is HEAF money, but I suspect that not all of the costs associated with the three-year rotation policy are covered by HEAF.

    Lengthen the cycle time for UHD police cars.

    Increase class size to a minimum of 15 students. Allow exceptions for graduate classes, senior seminars, and required courses for undersized but important majors (e.g., math).

    Tenure and tenure-track faculty members should teach classes not tutorial labs. Stop the practice of giving course releases for working in tutorial labs. Adjunct faculty and lecturers should be assigned to these tasks.

    Stop creation of new undergraduate programs that do not promise to add SCHs, and stop adding sections to the schedule that do not promise to add enough SCHs to offset the instructor's pay in the new section.

    Stop upgrading software every time our software vendors release a new version unless the software offers a vast improvement over the previous version (e.g., abandoning Windows Vista for Windows 7 was a good idea). Businesses have been doing this for years.

    Go to zero-based budgeting. Force department heads to justify all M&O funds each year. This should include all academic departments, Technology, Facilities and the police department. Publish these budgets and justifications where they can be evaluated by the entire university community.

  • One way I see that the university can cut costs is to examine honestly the purchases made by various departments in terms of equipment. I have heard of instances/rumors where equipment is bought that exceeds the requirements of the user to do his/her job. My understanding is that various departments can make their own hardware/software purchases. For example, someone has purchased a computer that is far above what they need for their job, or they have 2-3 displays on their desks when one is enough or they may have a phone with a number of options that are nice to have but not required for their position.

    Since the university is open at night anyway, why not rent rooms to other corporations/entities that may want to have non-college courses downtown? For example, Leisure Learning has classes all over town; it would beneficial to have real estate, investment classes, etc, offered at a university. Perhaps a small drama troupe in the city would be willing to rent the theatre during the time the University drama department is not using it?

    I'd like to see if every position that has been vacant for a long time, has been reviewed to see if it really needs to be filled or could be delegated to someone else within the hiring department. I'd like to see some reorganization of departments since I know of cases where one manager/director has only 1-2 employees but I'm not sure if that would result in any cost savings.

    Maybe the university should consider hiring part-time positions rather than fill new positions with full-time people to save money on benefits. I heard of one instance where an employee retired from academia was able to be hired by the university and since they were in a 'retirement' state, the university did not have to pay health insurance or other benefits for them.

    I'd like to see if all positions can be converted to salary positions rather than be hourly positions. I know of positions at the University of Houston that are salaried that are hourly at our university. I don't agree that people work 1 hour over 40 and are compensated time and a half pay for that 1 hour especially if no true oversight of that work is being done.

    I think at least at the university, we should consider limiting people's access to the internet. I think there are lots of cases where people are viewing YouTube, conversing via instant messaging, etc and not giving a full day's work for a full day's pay.

  • Consider taking out the phones in the faculty's offices and doing away with voicemail. Most of us don't even use the phone; we use email or give our students our personal cell number. That would save a small amount of money saved individually but overall it may come out to a lot.

    • Reminding faculty to turn off the lights in their offices

    • Energy saving light bulbs - going green all around which we have had a good initiative with this year

    • Getting rid of snack machines (electricity - and people barely use them)

    • Give more administrative responsibility to faculty

    • Really taking into account student evaluations - if you have a professor that doesn't care, it is a useless expense.

    • I am not sure if we get revenue for the bookstore, but most of our students buy their books online.

  • Stop buying food for meetings and seminars. Stop printing out emails and other information that can be viewed electronically.
  • I would like to provide a suggestion that will not only cut costs but also will have a positive impact on the University's retention rate. In the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the student advising is carried out by an Advising Center. The faculty has no role in student advising, except to complain about the quality of advising. This is the only university with which I have been connected, either as a student or as a member of the faculty, in which the faculty has not been responsible for advising the students.

    My suggestion is to eliminate the Advising Center in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and have the faculty provide the advising. Obviously, any individual faculty member would only advise students majoring in the faculty member's field of specialization. Interdisciplinary Studies majors would be spread among the faculty with lower advising loads. A faculty advisor should be assign as early in the student's academic career as possible, ideally in the freshman year. Once assigned to a faculty advisor, the student would retain with the same faculty advisor until graduation. Exceptions would be made for a change in the student's major or personality conflicts.

    A stable faculty advisor for each student has several advantages for student retention and for providing a high-impact educational experience. Each student will have his/her faculty member who teaches in the student's major to whom the student can turn for advice. Now the only official contact between the student and the faculty in the student's major is in the classroom. Some students and faculty develop informal contacts. Other students graduate, or drop out, without forming any direct contact with a faculty member. I have had seniors in my classes that do not know in what academic department their major is located. Freshmen and sophomores have almost no contact with any faculty in the area of their intended major, much less with a faculty member who has responsibility to provide guidance in their academic career. As a non-resident university, it is especially important to provide students with a bond to the university. Having a faculty advisor is one more way to increase that bond.

    When I have floated the idea of faculty advising with the College of Humanities and Social Sciences faculty I have receive both strong support for the idea and dozens of reasons why it will never work, or is a bad idea. Most frequently, I have heard the faculty will need a course release in order to take on advising. My response is that the faculty already has course release. It is called, "4-3." It is common in other universities, especially those with a three-course load, for the faculty to perform the student advising. If we, the faculty, at UHD are truly interested in student retention we should welcome a move that will provide more faculty student contact.


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Last updated or reviewed on 4/22/11

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