The Oct. 20 article “Shaw University reveals $2 million cost savings plan” did not engage the progressive optimization process occurring at Shaw University. As Shaw University approaches its 150th year, it affords an opportunity for the organization to reflect on its posture in the business of education then to devise and enact institutionalized systems that will ensure its relevance and longevity in the 21st century economy and beyond.
Process optimization is a conduit through which we have identified areas of operational inefficiency and cost savings opportunities and are creating pathways to improve processes and save money. With full support from the Board of Trustees, our executive leadership has taken an entrepreneurial approach to managing university operations, always focusing on the return on investment in every aspect of the academic enterprise.
Reducing operational costs is achieved in various ways. Energy savings are being realized via reduced use, preventative maintenance and equipment and technology upgrades, while contractual savings are being realized via intense negotiation. The result has been a direct improvement in Shaw’s bottom line.
The Department of Education’s 2011 decision to restrict the number of families who could borrow under the Parent PLUS Loan Program crippled the university at large and our students in particular. Some students could not return to complete their degrees. The loss of tuition revenue supported by PLUS loans meant that programs and staff had to be scaled back. Further, we were forced to use more of our limited institutional resources to provide emergency aid to students who were unable to obtain PLUS loans.
This unfortunate situation is not unique to Shaw, as our peer institutions, both private and public, had to scale back as well. Some did it through immediate government-initiated budget cuts, and others, like Shaw, did it on their own timing. It is an adage in business that as the customer base shrinks, budgets must be adjusted. We have demonstrated a responsible, strategic response to our current challenges and threats.
This $2 million cost savings plan is just a hint of the operational cost reductions that are to come. Shaw University is confident that we are on the right track. We are right-sizing the institution and putting the talent in place to move our university into the 21st century, ever demonstrating good fiscal stewardship. This is a new day. The doors of our communiversity are open. Our future is bright. Our partners and brand ambassadors are supportive, and the Shaw University faculty, staff, students and board are optimistic about our future and the role Process Optimization is playing in ensuring Shaw University’s sustainability.
Gaddis J. Faulcon
Interim president, Shaw University, Raleigh