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College looking for creative ways to save money and increase revenue

Are you a faculty member with a creative approach to improve the quality of our educational programs? If so, the Provost wants to hear about it. You might even get some funding to make it happen.

Provost Michael R. Halleran sent a memo last week to faculty announcing the Creative Adaptation Fund. It sets aside $200,000 for the coming fiscal year 2012-13 “to engage and unleash the creative energy in the academic areas to develop creative adaptions that improve the quality of our educational programs either directly or indirectly, by reducing costs or generating new revenues and thereby providing funds that can be reinvested in people and programs,” Halleran said.

The new fund is designated for academic units only, though some projects may have an operational or business component, Halleran said. The creative adaptation initiative follows an effort launched last year that looked at business innovation and efficiencies in all administrative areas of the College. That review identified more than 60 projects, which, when fully implemented, could produce more than $2 million in annual cost savings and net new revenues.

“The Creative Adaptation Fund is intended to build on these existing efforts and encourage all of us to think powerfully about other possibilities,” said Halleran, adding that by any measure the College is already lean and efficient. Last year’s report on business processes and efficiencies found that between 2008 and 2010 William & Mary reduced its base operating expenditures by $8.2 million. During this time of economic recession, the College saw its state operating dollars reduced by 33 percent, or $17.1 million.

“We all recognize that the economy and higher education are going through a period of unusual change and that our success depends on a common effort towards a common goal – strengthening the essence of the College and preparing our students through the best education possible to thrive in the 21st Century,” Halleran said. “We will succeed in this goal not by changing the College’s fundamental commitment to a rigorous and vigorous education as a liberal arts university, but by making the needed changes and developing innovations to adapt to a new environment.”

Halleran said the expectation is that the College will make similar reinvestments in creative adaptation for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 fiscal years. Fiscal years run July 1 through June 30.

There are some restrictions to creative adaptation projects, Halleran said. Budgets for each submission may not exceed $50,000 and most awards will be for lesser amounts, he said. The dean and, where applicable, the chair or director will need to endorse any proposal. 

The submission deadline is Jan. 16, 2012. A committee of faculty and administrators will review and provide recommendations to the Provost with notification of awards by mid-February.