Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of the business innovation project?

The Business Innovation Initiative is catalyzed by the William & Mary Promise. The Promise takes a three-pronged approach to expanding resources – through earned income from tuition, philanthropy and innovation – to achieve institutional priorities identified in the strategic plan.

As part of the innovation prong, William & Mary is working through a comprehensive review of its administrative operations. The goals are to achieve sustainable gains in operational excellence and to allow W&M to become more self-sufficient in the face of limited public funding. The purpose of this effort is to explore ways to streamline processes, reduce frustration and shift time and resources to our highest priorities.

Why now?

In April 2013, the university launched the William & Mary Promise. The Promise includes a commitment to a comprehensive review of operational processes at the university with an eye to reducing costs, improving efficiency and generating new net revenues.

If no other university has the gap in resources (110th) versus performance (33rd) – and our growth in non-academic costs is just average for our peers – why must W&M significantly slow the rate of future growth to maintain our position?

The fact that we have few resources makes it imperative that we put as many of them as we can into our highest priorities. One of several constraints in doing that is the growth of non-academic costs in a period of very low inflation. This is an unsustainable position for all of higher education. While our growth rate in non-academic costs is just average for our peers, it is still one of the many factors that keeps us from shifting more resources to our higher priorities.

What areas of administrative processes have been/will be assessed?

The assessment covered most of our business processes with particular emphasis on the following activity clusters: information technology, human resources, finance, procurement and facilities.

What is the timeline for the entire project?

This will be a long-term effort over several years. The work will be completed in phases. The preliminary review took place between January and March of 2014. Several pilot projects were also completed in 2014. Based on positive outcomes in these projects, a campus-wide survey was launched in fall 2014. Using the data collected from both the survey and the pilot projects, further steps will be considered.

We anticipate that implementation could take several years.

Is the College working with an outside consultant on the review?

Not at this time. In January 2014, a W&M steering committee began working with the Censeo Consulting Group. Censeo has a strong record of business process reviews at other universities, including current work with Georgetown. The team was led by W&M graduate Mark Finlan, who has guided similar efforts with several universities, including UNC and Cornell. Censeo's work with William & Mary was concluded in 2014.

How far along is the project now?

The steering committee worked with the consultants during the preliminary assessment phase (January to March, 2014) to narrow a range of possible initial projects down to eight that showed the most immediate promise. That review determined the operational areas with the greatest opportunity to cut costs, reduce cost increases, improve efficiency and generate new net revenues.

Work began in the summer of 2014 on several pilot projects. Based on positive outcomes in these projects, a campus-wide survey was launched in fall 2014. Using the data collected from both the survey and the pilot projects, an implementation plan will be developed. We anticipate that implementation of some projects could take several years.

Are faculty, staff and students involved in this process?

Yes. William & Mary President Taylor Reveley appointed a 13-member steering committee to guide the effort. The committee is co-chaired by Provost Michael R. Halleran and VP of Strategic Initiatives Henry R. Broaddus, and includes faculty, staff, a student and two members of the BOV.

Additionally, during the initial review phase the consultants talked with over 200 members of the William & Mary community from across campus.

Are academic programs included in the comprehensive operational review?

No. The consultants will not be looking at academic programs. The review of business processes will include the various schools, but not their academic programs.

The provost is leading a separate effort, working closely with deans and schools, to identify opportunities in the academic area.

Are staff reductions likely?

We will review any recommendations carefully to see how they can be implemented with the least disruption. The goal is to improve W&M's business processes – not to simply reduce staff. One likely result would be to redefine job responsibilities.

If adjustments in staffing are warranted, our intent is to do this as much as possible through reassignment or adjustments as normal vacancies arise. We want to achieve our goals with as little impact on current staff members as possible.

Was the decision to expand the organizational review a response to announced state budget cuts in fall 2014?

No. The decision to expand the organizational review university-wide preceded the announcement of state budget cuts. This project is not a direct response to those cuts and is not expected to address the immediate challenges created by them.

Can members of the W&M community offer feedback?

Yes. Feedback is encouraged for anyone with thoughts, ideas or suggestions on how W&M can improve its business processes.