OSUIT Recognized for Best Fiscal Practice

OSUIT Recognized for Best Fiscal Practice

Dr. Bill R. Path

OSUIT was recently recognized for its astute business practices in dealing with an unprecedented reduction in state appropriations. The severity of the budget crisis in Oklahoma and how it is affecting higher education cannot be overstated. But the challenges are particularly acute at OSUIT because of our commitment to applied instructional methodologies. Applied learning models (using tools and technologies) are frequently more expensive to offer than most theoretical learning models (using lectures and textbooks).

Out of necessity, we have made some difficult budgetary decisions at OSUIT. We have essentially put this institution on a diet and exercised it back to health. To accomplish this, we needed solid fiscal data upon which to base our decisions. So, we hired a nationally known accounting firm (BKD CPAs & Advisors) to study the productivity levels of every course offered at OSUIT and to provide us with a Contribution Margin Analysis (revenues - expenditures = contribution margin). We were able to use data from this report to make important strategic operational decisions with pinpoint accuracy. We made fiscally-informed modifications to our teaching schedule and program requirements. We eliminated areas of duplication and found ways to control costs. This process has helped OSUIT find nearly $4 million in savings within our annual academic costs.

The results have been so impressive, others are beginning to take notice of how OSUIT has used fiscal data to begin evolving the institution from a deficit operational model to a break even model. At a conference of college and university business officers held in Orlando in April, OSUIT was selected as one of three institutional finalists for their Best Fiscal Practice Award, for our use of data analytics to find ways to refocus our budget. The other colleges also honored as Best Practice finalists were Sam Houston State University (SHSU) in Texas and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS).

SHSU undertook a significant review of its banking operations that resulted in more efficient payment processing and sophisticated fraud prevention. They also improved their investment procedures by creating separate investment pools for their long-term and short-term assets. The net result has been a banking operation better scaled for the future and an investment approach that’s already generating significant gains.

KCTCS implemented a payroll shared service across their network of 16 colleges that relieved their individual campuses from the administrative duties associated with payroll processing. This streamlining procedure has eliminated duplication of effort and significantly reduced their total administrative labor costs. It’s estimated this move will have a $1.3 million return on investments across their system.

But, when the Best Practice Award was finally announced, I’m proud to tell you, the winner was OSUIT for using data analytics to find ways to refocus the budget. Our entire faculty and staff deserve credit for making sacrifices and for finding ways to do more with less. Yes, it’s great to be recognized by our peers, but truthfully, when public colleges implement good business practices, everyone wins.