Published Sat, Sep 29, 2012 11:33 am Dateline
Sharing services, operating more efficiently and saving money: those are goals of a new advisory committee working on behalf of Ohio's public colleges and universities.
"When we can share best practices with others across the state, we can improve the quality of our services just by emulating what others are doing better than we are, and likewise, they can learn from us. So there's a quality improvement as well as a cost improvement that are potentially there for us," said Terry Conry, an associate vice president for Finance and Administration at Ohio University.
Conry represents OU on the advisory committee.
"The goal of the advisory committee is based on sharing resources between the universities within the Ohio system. The idea that everybody has to have their own is one that's simply not sustainable. So a good example of that cooperation exists with our OhioLink program, where all the libraries in the state already participate in sharing resources," explained Conry.
The so-called efficiency advisory committee was established by the Ohio legislature and is coordinated by the Board of Regents.
It met for the first time recently and will meet again at least once every three months.
"Well, there's a lot of good things going on in the state that others can emulate. Right now, we have a couple of websites at the state level that we can use to find out what others are doing and then determine whether or not it will work here. I will say, we have good relationships with the city of Athens and the county on things like emergency services, our police departments are cooperating, as you know, so there is much already underway, but there's a lot more to do," said Conry.
He explained much of the focus is on academic support services. Conry says as the cost to support academic programs goes down, the quality of the programs themselves increases, provided the existing quality is maintained.
Each state institution of higher education has designated an employee to serve on the 40-member committee.
The efforts by the efficiency advisory committee mark the third time in recent history that Ohio's colleges and universities have collaborated.
Earlier this year, universities worked together on a comprehensive capital bill, and just a few weeks ago, the governor initiated a project to decide about state funding for higher education.