The client is a public higher education system comprised of 14 universities with more than 93,000 degree-seeking students and thousands more enrolled in certificate and other career-development programs. The client implemented a redesign effort to develop a single integrated university that provides high-quality, affordable postsecondary education at six partner campuses.
Over the past decade, the higher education industry has faced economic challenges such as: reduction in enrollment and applications, decrease in high school graduation rates and financial constraints. To adhere to these economic challenges and enhance students’ success, the system launched a system redesign effort that planned to integrate six institutions into two regionally based universities. System leadership committed to a two-phase comprehensive transformation that assessed all areas to identify key actions to create new integrated institutions that would meet the expected outcomes of enhanced student access, retention and completions while improving institutional performance. Phase two specifically focused on the transformation of their service delivery for key functions including human resources, information technology (IT) and finance with a goal of identify synergies and other cost savings that would allow them to balance declining funding and increasing operational costs with the expectation of offering an affordable, accessible and high-quality educational experience.
The system engaged Baker Tilly Digital to work closely with university leadership to adopt a strategic approach to support the integration of these institutions. This effort is designed to:
Baker Tilly Digital aided the client in the facilitation and project management of the integration effort – a process involving over 20 working departments and over 1,000 points of stakeholder analysis, examining all functional areas within the institution, including enrollment management, academic programming, student support services, technology, human resources, online programming, athletics and facilities/infrastructure. In phase one of the project, we provided frameworks to drive key integration design decisions on priorities for process modification, required investments and outcomes, best practices and optimizing resources. Baker Tilly Digital synthesized results into a summarized report of recommendations and next steps to serve as the initial prioritized implementation plan to position the integrated universities to be able to open in the fall of 2022.
In phase two of the project, Baker Tilly Digital worked with the client to discover requirements for adopting transparent, sustainable practices in support of their transformation. This included communication plans, stakeholder engagement protocols and project management and tracking mechanisms. Working as an advocate for the system to articulate stakeholder viewpoints on long-term vision, strategic priorities and potential high-impact synergies, Baker Tilly Digital also identified and outlined goals and processes to drive desired behavior and outcomes at all levels and across functional areas. Finally, we helped the system through their consideration of the current technology platforms and ideal approaches to reduce redundancy and enhance the consistency of available information for decision-making.
As a result of the extensive efforts of the working groups and recommendations, the system presented leadership with a stakeholder-informed plan containing specifics on the preferred approach to realign resources and the academic program array, restructure administration, integrate technology platforms and applications and prioritize actions required to integrate and transform enrollment management functions, academic affairs administration, student support services and general administration.
By tailoring change management activities to align to the needs of the institutions, Baker Tilly Digital helped the system:
Baker Tilly Digital’s support throughout the two-phase plan allowed the system to achieve the following:
The system is currently in the process of performing additional in-depth analysis in target areas Baker Tilly Digital identified and implementing elements of the project road map over a two-year window to position themselves strategically for a vibrant and sustainable future.