Put Students First: Stop the Shared Service Center Disaster at Stony Brook University

Dear friends and colleagues,

President Samuel L. Stanley’s strategic initiative, Project 50 Forward, aims to position Stony Brook University as one of the top 20 public research universities in the country. The steering committee for this project will imminently implement shared service centers, meaning that the administrative staff will be removed from their home departments and localized into a general pool that services the building instead of its students. Not only do the data overwhelmingly demonstrate that this corporate strategy rarely, if ever, saves as much money as it costs to implement, but such a process is plagued with transitional woes that put a stop to efficient work. Ultimately, shared service centers result in a loss of services to the students.

In a year where student tuition and fees are rising and will continue to rise over the next academic year, Stony Brook University is proposing a plan that will drastically alter the support, services and specialized advising available to its students. Please sign the following petition and help stop the shared services centers at Stony Brook University.

So I signed a petition to Samuel Stanley, President, Axel Drees, Acting Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, Nancy Squires, Interim Provost & Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and SBU Against Shared Service Centers, Organizer, which says:

Despite the significant enrollment, fee and tuition income that the University will realize in the coming academic years, the Steering Committee for President Stanley’s Project 50 Forward initiative has proposed a dramatic change that is likely to mire administrative productivity at its most sensitive and valuable point: department-level student services. Shared Service Centers is a corporate process much better known for its failures than its successes, and often costs more to implement than what is saved (see links below). Under this plan, pushed by the corporate business consulting firm Bain & Company – who do not list education among their areas of expertise – departments will no longer have specialized administrators that can advise its students in these areas. Instead, buildings will have a single service center to handle general administrative issues for all departments.
This pooling will result in a loss of specialized student support. The people who are largely responsible for fostering a sense of belonging amongst the students of each department, who are sources of essential institutional memory, that help students navigate varying departmental policies, who offer physical gathering spaces that have been the locus of academic and cultural development will be taken out of their context of expertise. These, and many other services that do not fit into the math of abstract business models developed by Bain’s staff members, who have a limited experience with academic life, will be lost.
As summer wraps up, students will once again be able to seek advice and feedback from their only remaining mentors: faculty. That is, if they can manage to coordinate their schedules with the posted office hours of the faculty, and as long as they do not have a question about the requirements of their major or questions about enrollment procedures. Right now, if students, graduate or undergraduate, need expert support about their major, their enrollment, their eligibility for courses, course offerings, graduation, or even generalized resources, they refer to the administrative staff who offer a personal touch and specific departmental expertise. With these experts removed from their home departments and dispersed into a general pool, students will no longer have access to specialized administrators that can advise them in these areas. Their academic ‘home’ will no longer exist. Rather, buildings will have a localized service center that handles general administrative issues for all departments. In this difficult economic environment, with many students facing tuition increases measuring in the thousands of dollars for the coming years, support is being reduced.
Parents are being asked to pay more for worse service in their children’s education. Our academic leadership is being misinformed about the benefits of this cookie-cutter corporate approach.
Please sign this petition and let President Stanley, Provost Squires and Dean Drees know that this shared services model is in direct opposition to the second critical mission of Project 50 Forward, ‘Academic Greatness.’ Academic greatness cannot be achieved by students who do not feel connected to their department, who receive sub-optimal, anonymous academic advising, and who cannot rely on consistent support from expert department administrative staff.”

Morale Dips, Student Anger Mounts:
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/03/17/california2
“Shared Services and Unmitigated Disaster”:
http://www.roblucas.com.au/news/default.asp?action=article&ID=525
“Shared services are progressing across government but reported savings to date are relatively small….”:
http://www.nao.org.uk/publications/0708/improving_corporate_functions.aspx?alreadysearchfor=yes
“MPs condemn DfT shared-services failure”
http://www.zdnet.co.uk/news/systems-management/2008/12/16/mps-condemn-dft-shared-services-failure-39578367/
Bain and Company Corporate web site.
http://www.bain.com/

Will you sign the petition too? Click here to add your name:

http://signon.org/sign/put-students-first-stop?source=s.fwd&r_by=525380

Thanks!

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