Vice President's Perspective on ...

UA unit budget review process annualized

Christophe Pierre, VP for Academic Affairs.The inaugural UA Review process was based upon the understanding that the core missions of the University are teaching, research, and public service. These missions are carried out primarily at the campus level and are facilitated and supported by the work of service-oriented university administration (UA) units.

Like other organizations, the U of I needs an appropriate infrastructure for business and support services that are be provided in the most efficient manner possible. The UA Review teams recommended that university administration units and their budgets and performance should be reviewed annually.

The UA Budget Review Advisory Committee (UBRAC), formed in April 2014, is composed of representatives from all three campuses, faculty leadership, and UA. The committee conducted the first annual budget review of UA units submitting a final report to the President in mid-June. In their report, UBRAC members noted that suggestions for improvement and formalization of the process are perhaps the more significant results.

Because of the compressed timeframe this year, the committee did not directly engage UA unit leaders as part of the process. The process did, however, provide an important first step toward greater transparency. Committee members feel that the process will create a better understanding of the UA units and improve the partnerships between the campuses and the administration. More important, the process will be iterative, providing opportunities for increased appreciation by the campuses for the services provided by UA units. The UBRAC report also emphasized that UA units should be engaged in work that either can’t be done by the campuses or can be done more efficiently by a central unit.

The committee report includes six recommendations:

  1. Continue this review in future years and institutionalize the process

  2. Provide the committee report to the units reviewed to start the process for the coming year

  3. Establish the need for long-term planning at all levels in UA

  4. Have UA units initiate an internal review process to provide meaningful information for reviews in future years

  5. Have UA management make use of this process as a prioritization tool

  6. Have management review carry-forward balances and funding requests at portfolio and individual levels using sub-committee reports as a guide

University administration will be working to implement these recommendations over the next year.  In particular, procedures will be reviewed and policies implemented regarding management of carry-forward balances.

My sincere thanks to the members of the budget review advisory committee for their hard work. The process is designed to reinforce principles that emphasize collegiality, collaboration, and transparency, and it will enhance the ways in which UA units work with the campus customers and stakeholders.

Christophe Pierre
Vice President for Academic Affairs


July 2014