Joe Templeton spends a lot of time explaining things these days.
The affable and well-respected professor and former chairman of the Faculty Council now has the job of selling faculty and staff on recommendations from Bain & Co.’s study of UNC’s operational efficiency.
As UNC reacts to Bain’s study findings, faculty members are worried how the dollars-and-sense recommendations will affect them.
Bain’s study, funded by an anonymous donor for an undisclosed amount, was completed in July.
Evaluating and executing those suggestions is an administrative priority as the University examines how it can get leaner, with Chancellor Holden Thorp pursuing the goal of being the best-managed university in the country.
In his new role as special assistant to the chancellor, Templeton is part of a small group of high-level administrators overseeing its implementation, which was renamed Carolina Counts last week.
“I’m supposed to bring something different,” Templeton said. “I bring the culture of faculty excellence, and I’m supposed to cling to that. And I plan to.”
Faculty members, though, aren’t thrilled with some parts of the plan.
The corporate lingo in which some suggestions are delivered is a barrier to faculty members.
At a meeting Monday, faculty balked at the term “process velocity,” saying it raised red flags that were indicative of changes they might not like.
The term describes the turnaround speed at which some operations are accomplished, but it marks an uneasiness between the academic culture of the faculty and the businesslike practice of administrators, legislators and trustees.
Faculty also worry that the broader mission of the University to create the best possible environment to learn, research and serve could be lost in a rush to cut administrative costs.
“They’re always going to intersect, and there are places in which you’re going to make value judgments,” said religious studies professor Laurie Maffly-Kipp. “I just want to know where that fits in.”
Mike Patil recently moved from a business management position in the Eshelman School of Pharmacy to be the full-time project director for Carolina Counts.
Templeton and Patil said they spend a lot of time beating back rumors.
For instance, there is no such thing as a “Bain committee” yet, they say, that is responsible for putting ideas into action. Carolina Counts isn’t directly related to Connect Carolina, UNC’s long-running software and systems revamp.
And consultants didn’t deal at all with changes to academic curricula, so most students and faculty should be little-affected.
Most importantly, Templeton said, budget cuts are happening for reasons outside of Carolina Counts.
In their final report, Bain consultants identified 10 areas in which the University could examine ways to streamline activities in depth.
They recommended that UNC cut layers from its hierarchy; look for ways to consolidate efforts in human resources, information technology and finance; and better utilize its purchasing power, facilities, energy and institutes.
Once they have built up some consensus and participation, Templeton said he plans to identify leaders known as “champions” on those issues who will be responsible for implementing recommendations.
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