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Investing in our future

by Jim Ramsey last modified Apr 04, 2011 09:33 AM

The University of Louisville is investing in Kentucky’s future by investing in our students.

In 1997 UofL received a mandate from the General Assembly to become a premier metropolitan research university. The university has taken that charge to heart. Today, UofL is among the nation’s fastest-growing research universities. Its students are the best prepared, most academically accomplished in the school’s history. Its faculty includes many renowned researchers and teachers.

Maintaining that momentum, though, has not been easy. Since 2002 state higher education funding has been cut seven times, counting the recent cuts that will impact us through 2010. Since 2003, tuition increases at UofL have averaged 9 percent per year. Still, the university has continued its climb to preeminence and tried to keep higher education affordable by cutting costs and finding new revenue streams, then directing that money into new programs and infrastructure to support our students. We also have developed private partnerships in many areas that are helping us move ahead.

Since 2002 UofL has generated nearly $35 million in recurring and one-time budget reductions. This is on top of a $21 million reallocation by the university that occurred three years earlier.

These numbers also do not include university activities that hold down cost increases or foregone expenditures, nor do they account for earnings and future savings (many of which are outlined in this booklet).

We’re proud of the job we have been doing at UofL when it comes to spending tax and tuition dollars wisely while creating a vibrant, stimulating learning environment for our students. This document lists many of our efforts since 2003 to cut existing costs, engage in intelligent cost-avoidance practices and generate revenue. It also discusses how at the same time we have enhanced the student experience.

Our goal is to remain a fiscally, socially responsible institution — one that is a good citizen to the residents of our city and state, and a smart investment, too.

We welcome your feedback and suggestions.

James R. Ramsey President


NEW STUDENT INITIATIVES

Since 2003 UofL has invested in many efforts to improve the academic and campus life experiences of our students. Just a few of those efforts include:

Academic quality

  • Hired 182 new faculty throughout the Belknap and HSC campuses
  • Improved academic support to help students be successful, in ways such as expanding the Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning to help enhance faculty teaching and establishing the REACH Virtual Math Center and University Writing Center “Virtual Writing Center” for online tutorial support
  • Completed with earmarked funds from Sen. Mitch McConnell a renovation of Ekstrom Library to include a new wing with robotic retrieval system; technology-equipped class/meeting rooms; and new study areas including Kersey Reading Room and the Tulip Tree Cafe and 24-hour study area, as well as a Learning Commons with a Metro Computer Lab and increased student computer access, REACH Computer Resource Center and the new REACH/Delphi Digital Media Studio
  • Grew the number of students participating in the university Honors Program (offering more than 120 courses in 25 disciplines) by almost 40%, from 875 to nearly 1,200 students, and increased the number of students graduating as University Honors Scholars from four to 49
  • Added 15 new central and unit-based undergraduate professional advising staff positions
  • Implemented a curriculum initiative called Ideas to Action that intensifies the effort to build students’ critical thinking skills throughout the curriculum and requires a thesis, service learning experience or capstone project where students put their knowledge to the test in real-world settings

Student services

  • Reorganized the Student Affairs division to better serve students
  • Hired a dean of students to create a campus environment conducive to student participation and growth, academic enrichment and positive interaction among faculty, staff and students
  • Restructured and expanded the offerings of the University Career Development Center to better serve students
  • Established the provost’s advocate for students to assist students in resolving issues with institutional procedures, policies and business operations
  • Implemented a university-wide, academic- advising records system to maintain and transfer consistent advising records, especially when students transfer from unit to unit
  • Implemented or enhanced student/parent Summer Orientation, STOMP online orientation modules, Welcome Weekend and First Year Initiative programs to prepare incoming students for success

Financial aid

  • Increased total institutional financial aid by nearly 40%, from $55.1 million to $76.8 million
  • Increased need-based institutional financial aid nearly 48%, from $7.3 million to $10.8 million
  • Increased merit-based scholarships awarded by the university by 60%, from $7.3 million to $11.7 million
  • Established the Cardinal Covenant program, which provides full scholarships to academically qualified students from low-income families in Kentucky, growing it from about $444,000 in its first year (fall 2007) to $1.2 million for fall 2008
  • Continued to fund scholarships such as the Hallmark Scholars program, Stodghill Society of Scholars and Cardinal Athletic Fund so we can recruit the best students and help stop Kentucky’s “brain drain”

Campus safety

  • Increased security at Belknap and HSC by hiring 6 new university police officers, 21 new security officers and 2 new telecommunications officers for a current total of 30 police officers, 24 security officers and 7 telecommunications officers
  • Created UofL Alert, an emergency notification system for students, faculty and staff that provides 9 different available communication vehicles including Voice over Internet protocol telephone broadcast and text messages, cell phone text messages, e-mail, website and outdoor civil defense sirens and public address systems
  • Implemented new security equipment across campus, including 146 cameras centrally monitored and managed by DPS, 72 emergency phones and improved lighting

Technology enhancements

  • Enhanced and extended the UofL library system’s principal online public access catalog to include complete information on the university’s entire 2 million-plus holdings
  • Expanded wireless Internet access to approximately 100 campus buildings, making UofL a wireless campus
  • Installed a VoiceOver Internet Protocol (VOIP) system to more than 9,000 campus phones, providing high-quality service, promoting safety through the UofL Alert system — and saving $1.2 million in recurring funds

Neighborhood development

  • Issued an RFP for private developers to build affiliated housing and retail facilities adjacent to campus as part of an overall long-term plan to increase campus residency and help create a vibrant neighborhood
  • Secured a $2.4 million federal earmark to expand and improve the existing campus shuttle program in the areas of traffic flow, rider awareness and safety Secured $1.2 million Federal Transportation Enhancement funds to address pedestrian safety, facilitate bicycle traffic and address beautification issues in the Eastern Parkway corridor
  • Continued our program of taking nonperforming assets and turning them into productive resources — such as we did with the Reynolds Lofts condominium project at the corner of Eastern Parkway and Third Street — by issuing an RFP for a private developer to convert the abandoned Stoddard Johnston elementary school building on Bradley Avenue into married and family-affiliated housing
  • Continued to help spur economic revitalization of the Central Avenue corridor, begun with the building of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, via reclaiming the Algood factory property and transforming it into a lacrosse field, bike plaza and park; building the new Jim Patterson baseball stadium and sports complex; and becoming a major tenant in the rehabbed Central Station office complex
  • Secured a $1 million Kentucky Department of Transportation grant for traffic control and neighborhood beautification
  • Partnered with Project Women and the Kentucky Housing Corp. to establish Louisville Scholar House, a 56-unit development in Old Louisville that will provide housing for single-parent families while they attend UofL and other local colleges and universities

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COST SAVINGS

These are just a few of the ways in which the university has cut costs since 2003. Note: Items are marked (NR) if they are one-time savings, (R) if they are recurring.

General university initiatives

  • Worked with a private developer to convert the Reynolds Building from an unusable facility to upscale loft condominiums. 2005 – 06. Cost savings/revenue to UofL: $1.3 million (NR)
  • Reorganized our career centers by closing the central University Career Center and reopening under a new model in which individual academic units have career centers geared specifically to their students’ needs. Eliminated staff positions. 2004 – 05. Cost savings: $400,000 (NR)
  • Adopted a program to control pharmacy costs for UofL and its employees. 2005. Cost savings: $113,000 in 2006 alone (R)
  • Reorganized the graduate school administration. 2007. Cost savings: $300,000 (R)
  • Reorganized the President’s Office, eliminating one vice president’s position, an executive assistant and some support staff. 2004. Cost savings: $300,000 (R)
  • Consolidated satellite computer centers into Ekstrom Library. 2006. Cost savings: $100,000 (R)
  • Expanded distance education programs. 2004 – 05. Cost savings: $850,000 (R)

Information and communications technology improvements

  • Implemented the VoiceOver Internet protocol phone service, which, among other things, allows emergency broadcast messages across campus. 2006. Cost savings: $1.2 million (R)
  • Provided Microsoft campus agreements for departments. 2004. Cost savings: $400,000 over 3 years
  • Relocated a supercomputer to the Miller Information Technology Data Center. 2006. Cost savings: $300,000 (NR)
  • Reorganized digital and imaging services. 2006. Cost savings: $300,000 (R)

Business process redesign

  • Implemented an automated process to disburse student residual funds. 2006. Cost savings: $30,000 (R) Initiated a master maintenance agreement pro gram for scientific and lab equipment. 2006. Cost savings: $60,000 (R)
  • Improved Human Resources services by implementing electronic employment verification, paperless paychecks and electronic W2 forms. 2002 – 06. Cost savings: $27,500 (R)

Financial and budgetary initiatives

  • Refinanced long-term debt where financially viable. 2003. Cost savings: $6.6 million (NR)
  • Rebid the travel services contract. 2005. Cost savings: $75,000 (R)
  • Changed policy to rebid auditing services contract every five years. 2004. Cost savings: $40,000 (R)
  • Implemented electronic payments of large vendors. 2005. Cost savings: $13,750 (R)
  • Changed the university’s short-term investment policy to allow greater flexibility in investing short- term cash. 2005. New revenue: Fluctuates, but $50,000 in 2005; $140,000 in 2006 (R)
  • Converted University Development and Alumni Office from a General Fund to a self-supporting unit. 2006. Cost savings: $3.1 million (R)
  • Charged overhead costs to auxiliaries, service centers, etc., for administrative and facility costs. 2005. Cost savings: $250,000 (R)
  • Implemented a self-funded strategy for employee and retiree health insurance. 2004. Cost savings: $2 million (R)
  • Negotiated new indirect cost rates for federally sponsored research with the National Institutes of Health. 2005. Cost savings: $300,000 in 2007 (R)
  • Converted some staff salaries in Environmental Health and Safety to self-supporting. 2006. Cost savings: $139,000 (R)
  • Hired a tuition repayment specialist for collection of outstanding student accounts. 2004. Cost savings: $350,000 (NR)
  • Implemented a program to decrease accounts receivable on grants and contracts. 2005. Cost savings: $11 million (NR)
  • Implemented a “convenience fee” for credit card payment of student accounts. 2005. Cost savings: $168,000 in 2005 (R)
  • Increased efforts to recover unclaimed and escheat property. 2004. Cost savings: $2.5 million (NR)

Sustainability

  • Implemented campus-wide energy management initiatives. Ongoing. Cost savings: $150,000 (R)
  • Equipped campus vending machines with power misers to save electricity. Cost savings: $2,000 (R)
  • Implemented a two-year cycle for window cleaning. 2003. Cost savings: $30,000 (R)
  • Replaced several domestic boilers with more efficient ones. Ongoing. Cost savings: $10,000 (R)
  • Replaced fluorescent lamps with environmentally friendly lamps. Ongoing. Cost savings: $20,000 (R)
  • Installed more efficient HVAC systems in several buildings. Ongoing. Cost savings: $20,000 (R)

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EARNINGS AND FUTURE SAVINGS

  • Continued to make wise, highly diversified investment choices via the UofL Foundation, resulting in our endowment routinely outperforming other universities of similar size and programmatic makeup — for a total of $350 million in present value income over 20 years.
  • Partnered with Dataseam and its 52 participating school districts across the state to give UofL researchers access to the power of thousands of computers located in Kentucky’s K – 12 classrooms. Using this technique, researchers have saved millions of tax dollars, accelerated their research by years and have already discovered five potential drug elements that warrant further investigation.
  • Established a Tax Increment Financing district around the Health Sciences Center, capturing $350 million in tax revenues to be reinvested in infrastructure for a life sciences research park.
  • Returned $171.5 million in clinical revenues to the university through services offered by Health Sciences Center venues and practices.
  • Increased the bottomline dividend payment from University Hospital from $8 million annually to $11 million — a 37.5% increase.
  • Contracted with a private developer to convert the old Stoddard Johnston school building to married and family-affiliated housing, resulting in $44,000-plus in recurring funds.
  • Sold excess broadband capacity to private vendors for $4 million.

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GOING GREEN

  • Launched the Partnership for a Green City with Louisville Metro government and the Jefferson County Public Schools system to protect the environment and improve overall quality of life in the community.

For the partners combined, this has resulted in:

  • More than $1.6 million in outside grants and contracts for solar energy, building energy audits, environmental education, energy data management software and other environmental efforts, with $2 million more pending.
  • Combined purchases of paper resulting in cost savings through bulk buys — a total of 500,000 reams annually. Since the paper purchased is all recycled, the environmental benefit is huge — saving 17,000 mature trees and 24 million gallons of water. (R)
  • Decreased volume of disposal in landfills as a result of recycling activities, including converting tree limbs into mulch, for a savings of $23,000. (R)
  • A 10% to 20% targeted reduction in energy costs through implementing energy efficiency measures, for a potential total of up to $3 million in savings per year.

Benefits to the university alone include:

  • Began a recycling program for the safe disposal of old computers and monitors.
  • Partnered with Louisville Metro government to take waste to a closer landfill, reducing fuel costs.
  • Purchased software to assist us in more efficiently monitoring the use of electrical energy and natural gas.
  • Many other green activities occur on campus beyond those of the Green City partnership. They include:
  • New and major renovations of existing facilities are designed and constructed to be energy efficient and eligible to receive LEED and/or Energy Star certification. (LEED is a self-rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council for rating the environmental preferability of new and existing commercial, institutional and high-rise residential buildings.)
  • The university’s food services are committed to purchasing local products, such as bread, milk and produce, whenever such products are available that meet our quality and pricing standards. Buying locally reduces fuel emissions and encourages local farming.
  • Implemented an online course evaluation system to replace the previous paper system, reducing workload on departments and eliminating paper scan sheets.
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