Chancellor Announces Committee on Efficiency

The formation of the Standing Committee on Service and People-Oriented Administrative Culture, a new standing committee primarily meant to assist in the fostering of administrative and operational efficiency on campus, was announced on Feb. 9.

The committee will be composed of faculty, administrative staff, campus leaders and subject-matter experts. UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla’s strategic plan is designed to implement new ways of establishing and retaining UCSD’s status as a competitive public research university for both students and faculty.

According to the committee’s chair Dr. Kit Pogliano, a professor in the section of molecular biology, SPOC was created with the purpose of serving as an advisor to the chancellor in achieving Goal 5 of the strategic plan, which specifically emphasizes the creation of a versatile and lasting infrastructure through dedication to service, people and financial stewardship or the skilled management of resources.

Pogliano further explained that one of the broader aims of the program will be to make sure that the administration supports the teaching missions of the campus as streamlined and efficiently as possible. “I would like to see the committee expand our culture of innovation and creativity so that individuals who are in charge of processes on campus have a path forward to make those processes better,” Pogliano told the UCSD Guardian. “I would really like to see the committee make this place easier for staff, faculty and students to collaborate across campus to achieve administrative efficiency.”

The new program, along with other efforts on campus, including those implemented by the new Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer Pierre Ouillet, is designed to work toward the achievement of this goal. It intends to do so while maintaining financial accountability and reasonable management of state- and tuition-based funds.

In doing so, SPOC will also be responsible for fielding new initiatives with the intent of improving various processes on campus.

This will be done in part through the implementation of a new crowd-sourcing tool that will be accessible to faculty, staff and student employees who are able to log in to the campus’ single sign-on.

Unlike other collaborative discussion sites, this crowd-sourcing tool will present users with specific, time-sensitive challenges or concepts to be addressed. It will then allow those with access to engage in developing solutions that are ultimately meant to improve the university.

Pogliano expressed her excitement over the introduction of the new tool, which emphasizes the importance of gathering perspectives from the UCSD community. “What we hope to do is leverage the collective expertise of the entire campus and their enthusiasm and really engage them in the process,” Pogliano said.

The program will work by clustering incoming ideas and suggesting potential collaborators based on this grouping. The tool also possesses a built-in ranking system to help identify the most useful propositions.

While she believes that the tool has enormous potential to create a marked improvement in the administrative functions on campus, Director of Strategic Initiatives Robert Neuhard emphasizes that the real work will be done by SPOC.

“The standing committee in itself is the key aspect that is going [to] drive conversations on campus,” Neuhard told the Guardian. “The tool is really just an enabler of one facet of the conversation. It allows [us] to reach out on campus and collect input in a way that we wouldn’t necessarily be able to do effectively.”

After SPOC has reviewed incoming ideas and helped to create the teams of staff, faculty and relative campus experts to develop the propositions more fully, it will help to present potential projects to the Chancellor’s Cabinet. From there, it will be decided which initiatives will move forward.

Pogliano is hopeful that achieving administrative excellence will be accelerated through the sharing of new ideas.

“We’ve been really creative as a campus in terms of achieving administrative [efficiency] during the budget cuts that started a few years ago,” Pogliano said. “A lot of people have found things that work for them and their department, and we will be able to help them take these advancements to the whole campus.”

After a trial time of the crowd-sourcing tool, set to appear in April 2015, there is a possibility of students being brought into the new method of sharing thoughts. Possible use of the tool in the future includes creating increased collaboration between students and faculty.

Meanwhile, Pogliano hopes that one of the immediate effects on students’ lives will be an increased speed and ease with how they experience common tasks, such as receiving grades.

SPOC will also be less directly involved with reinvesting in the UCSD Information Technology infrastructure by identifying new ways to use technology to improve its efficiency, according to Pogliano.

“We really need to reinvest in this infrastructure in a smart way that makes us more efficient as an institution and provides the services that students and other people need,” Pogliano said. “We will try to identify opportunities to leverage technology.”

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