Published November 21, 2013
More than 100 representatives from SUNY institutions across Western New York gathered at UB yesterday to talk about how they might develop more opportunities to share services in support of SUNY’s vision of access, completion and success for its students.
The meeting, “Harnessing Systemness: Regional Discussions on Efficiency and Excellence,” was the last of five regional forums sponsored by SUNY to foster greater collaboration among its campuses.
“It’s all about working together; it’s about finding these things that can ultimately help our campuses and ultimately help our students,” Brian Hutzley, SUNY vice chancellor for shared services and regional economic development, told attendees, who represented a wide range of business functions, including IT, financial aid and human resources.
President Satish K. Tripathi welcomed participants to the meeting, held in the Center for Tomorrow, by pointing to the importance of collaborations among institutions in higher education. “By seeking partnerships with peer institutions in our region and across the nation and the world, we can improve academic programming, create new student opportunities, generate economic development in our communities through our research and innovation, and expand access to educational and economic opportunities,” Tripathi said.
And while UB has successful relationships with its fellow SUNY institutions and others in Western New York, “there’s always room for improvement,” he said. The “Harnessing Systemness” meeting provides a “valuable opportunity to share ideas, concerns and questions in what has worked and what has not in terms of higher education collaborations and improving efficiency and excellence.”
In a short presentation opening the meeting, Hutzley noted that Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, during her January 2013 State of the University Address, continually stressed three points: access, completion and success of SUNY students. “Why do we do anything? It’s for those three things,” he said.
The goal of shared services, Hutzley explained, is to improve the core services across the campuses for students, faculty and staff; meet and exceed students’ expectations; and align resources — both funding and personnel — to meet SUNY’s goals and address the needs of its students.
“So the new model is simply about working together,” he said.
But with 64 campuses, SUNY is an “incredibly complicated system,” he pointed out. “So there are going to be things that work together for 60 campuses, for 12 campuses, for six campuses,” he said, noting that the SUNY campuses in Western New York have developed “the model” for working together.
Hutzley pointed out that after five years of budget cuts, the rational tuition plan implemented as part of NYSUNY 2020 has taken “some of the pressure off.”
“So we’re in a good place, and the best time to look at change and drive improvements is not when the pressure’s on. Now’s the time to be thinking about how we can operate more efficiently.”
By working together – whether campus to campus, regionally or across the system — SUNY campuses can provide better service, create innovation, and improve the quality and efficiencies of services, he said.
“At the end of the day, if we’re lucky, there’s savings and then reinvestment” in such things as faculty hiring, scholarships and financial aid, he said.
Following Hutzley’s remarks, participants broke up into separate discussion areas organized by functional area. The sessions were designed to provide participants an opportunity to meet and learn from their peers from other SUNY campuses. Participants were encouraged to share success stories and best practices from their institutions, while examining new opportunities to create collaborations.