Quick Ref

To: University Faculty and Staff
From: Eric D. Isaacs, Provost and Rowan A. Miranda, Vice President for Operations and Chief Financial Officer 
Re: Enhancing the Quality and Efficiency of Administrative Services
Date: July 20, 2015

Earlier this summer, the Offices of the Provost and CFO began a collaborative process with units across campus to better understand how the University can most effectively and efficiently deliver administrative services that support our academic mission. These conversations are essential as we develop plans for a new initiative to deliver superior service that meets the needs of our faculty, staff and students. One of our primary goals is to enhance administrative services so that more of our faculty’s valuable time and effort can be focused on research and teaching. Faculty members have identified this as a priority on many occasions, including in the Quality of Academic Life report in 2012.

We believe an important component of achieving this goal of improved service quality and administrative efficiency is moving to a Shared Services model.  Shared Services is an approach that involves the consolidation of select administrative functions into one or more centers whose sole mission is to provide high quality transactional services.  Shifting these transactional tasks to a specialized area staffed by dedicated experts will improve the quality of work, provide better career paths for staff, and free up academic units to focus more resources and attention on their teaching and research missions.  Staff working in academic units will also have greater capacity to focus on meeting the specialized administrative needs of their units. Other peer institutions have adopted this model with success in improving service delivery and satisfaction. One lesson from their experiences is the importance of ongoing engagement and input by faculty and staff.

The collaborative process that began this summer is key to ensuring the success of this initiative. It will include listening, garnering insights, guidance and feedback from faculty, administrators and staff on ways to design a new model that delivers superior service. We have started with a focus on better understanding the current level of staff effort dedicated to the most common tasks that could be moved to a Shared Services Center: Finance, Human Resources, Information Technology and Research Administration. This effort will broaden in the fall when our teams use the data gathered over the summer to further engage faculty, administrators and staff on the design of a Shared Services model that best fits the needs of the University of Chicago. From there, we will move to develop a multi-year, phased plan to implement Shared Services. We anticipate starting Shared Services implementation in 2016 and completing the transition in 2018 and beyond. This measured pace will ensure a successful implementation of this new model with sufficient feedback and improvement along the way.

We greatly value our staff as vital members of the University community who understand how the University works and help to form our unique culture. We believe that Shared Services will enable us to improve essential services while at the same time providing new and more rewarding career opportunities whether staff move to the Shared Services Center or remain in their current unit. This will involve change, which can bring some anxiety. To help reduce worry, we will strive to be inclusive in our decision making, transparent in our processes, and will be in regular communication with you throughout the span of this project.  

Thank you in advance for your support.