Administration outlines new revenue and staffing strategies

Kristian Evans, Senior News Editor

Two subgroups of the University Council Resource Committee (UCRC), the Net Revenue Growth Team and the Staffing Structure Task Force, have released white papers detailing the future of revenue growth and staffing practices at Augsburg.

The revenue growth white paper acknowledges the money Augsburg currently brings in from tuition only accounts for 79 percent of the university’s operating costs and seeks to make changes that will grow revenue in the university’s three different types of enrollment: undergraduate, the adult undergraduate (AU) program and graduate programs.

Undergraduate students make up by far the largest share of students on campus. The white paper states that 70 percent of total tuition revenue comes from undergrads. Augsburg has had success in recruiting students from “historically underrepresented groups” but states that other colleges and universities are beginning to focus their recruitment effort there as well and suggests a change in recruiting strategy for the school.

The AU programs are listed with the goal of achieving and sustaining an annual income of $4.5 million by 2025. In response to stagnant growth in certain programs, the administration is considering whether a separate adult program is in the best interest or if “a free-standing ‘School of Business’ that can innovate and be innovative and entrepreneurial” is the better option.

Graduate programs have the listed goal of 6 percent annual growth starting in 2020. According to the paper, the graduate student enrollment has grown by 22 percent between 2013–2018 despite a flat enrollment in graduate programs across the country. “We would do well to keep in mind that programs that respond to market demand cost more to deliver — and that any potential net revenue increase might be minimized by additional expenses.” The Staffing Structure Task Force white paper states the school has failed to increase enrollment to keep pace with staffing costs. “Over the past ten years, staffing levels have continued to grow while student headcount has declined.” Additionally, the paper details more specific growth areas that have contributed to the issue. “The largest area of growth in compensation has been in the student services function at 12.4 percent over the five years. Instruction is second in growth rate but at a modest 2.5 percent.”

In response, the white paper recommends changes in staffing policy that create more flexibility and ultimately cut costs. One such policy is in the replacement of departing faculty, which the white paper discusses. “Our process should not only consider benchmarking but also re-allocating existing staff rather than replacing a staff member who leaves Augsburg.” The white paper also looks at the possibility to outsource services that are currently paid by the university. The white paper calls for Augsburg to “identify project work and functions that could be outsourced. Augsburg currently outsources the book store and food service functions.” The white paper uses the example of the Center for Wellness and Counseling (CWC) as an entity that has outsourced aspects of its operation to remain cost effective.

            The white paper also discusses changes in student employment. “The task force recommends the ​implementation of an expanded version of the 2018/2019 student employment pilot, including an internship option.” This move could possible result in a shift in work from faculty to students in internships or lower paid positions.

This article was originally published in the April 26, 2019 issue. 

2019 fiscal year budget allocations for Augsburg University. Photo from Staffing Structure White Paper.