Please provide suggestions for the University regarding cost-cutting measures and revenue-generating ideas.

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Voices from the Hill

President Ribeau recently sent a letter to the Howard community discussing the fiscal challenges that our University, like others, is facing. The president explained that while some progress has been made in improving Howard’s fiscal situation, we continue to face real challenges. Thank you for providing suggestions for the University regarding cost-cutting measures and revenue-generating ideas. Below are the responses.

Sodexho is very expensive. If schools within the University did not have to use Sodexho, but could make their own catering arrangements, in most cases they could save significant amounts of money and often get better food. 

Build a parking garage on one of the parking lots. Partner with a developer. We provide the land; they provide the construction costs; we split the revenue. This way we do not have to provide capital. This would be a major improvement over the current parking situation as well.

—Alice Ogden Bellis, professor, School of Divinity

Recycling can reap savings. Many computer or accessory companies—Xerox, HP, APC—have trade-in programs on computers, printers and battery backups/uninterrupted power supplies. Investigate online before you order.

Recycle and get cash for old business gadgets including laptops, cell phones, projectors, PDAs and smart phones. Check out online recyclers like ( that deal with schools and businesses.

One day off without pay per month for an entire year. This could be voluntary.

Standardization (and preconfiguration) of computer workstations and laptops across campus. This could mean better bulk savings and less configuration time, and could include both Mac and PC platforms.

—Diane Williams, director, Data Analysis Center, College of Medicine

The advantages of a university include a diversity of schools, colleges and departments. Unfortunately the silo-vertical structure at Howard makes horizontal collaborations difficult. An effort should be made to examine departments ACROSS schools and colleges, NOT to merge or otherwise have them lose their identity—which is their strength—but to establish strong collaborations that can be appealing to outside funders. For example, I can imagine a collaboration between the law school, psychiatry and education on drug laws; or psychiatry, psychology, the counseling service and education psychology on a variety of topics; or psychiatry, anthropology and communications on how language defines the recognition of mental disorders. Such collaborations are common at larger universities, but difficult at Howard. Yet, Howard should be at the forefront because of its many departments and diverse disciplines.
—William B. Lawson, M.D., professor and chair, Department of Psychiatry

Help retired faculty and staff eligible for pension/retirement.
Promote retired faculty to emeritus rank.
Use funds to recruit and retain dynamic, productive, early career educators/scientists.
Replace old equipment by selling or trading it in for newer equipment.
Encourage faculty/departments to maintain a grants portfolio.

—Luisel J. Ricks-Santi, Ph.D., Cancer Center, National Human Genome Center

Upgrade the technology so that we can offer online and distance learning courses, including majors in popular areas.
—Jannette L. Dates, Ph.D., dean, John H. Johnson School of Communications

Plug the financial loss where faculty members who retire receive pay beyond the documented terminal date.

Make sure that the appropriate administrative activities for receiving reimbursements from research and contracts are conducted on time. Late billing must be eliminated! Bring those funds to HU without delay. Fire those who are unable to maintain efficiency in billing.

Value adjunct appointments where appropriate. Eliminate adjunct positions attached to department budgets, when the faculty workload is low. Challenge existing faculty to seek retraining.

Promote a strong applied research culture where HU joins leading universities in having strong industrial research partners. Industries invest in universities that provide value. There are valued opportunities beyond NSF.

All new faculty—at the assistant professor level—must be sufficiently academically diverse so that teaching and research are not limited to the area of their doctoral dissertation. Reduce specialty islands.

Consider non-tenure contract faculty positions, with a separate salary scale. There is risk. Good for some faculty who are purely research-oriented and are confident about the future. Option for transition to tenure track must be codified.

Despite the financial plight, research champions must be paid based on the IBS. Highly productive research faculty must not be discouraged from seeking new research opportunities. HU needs to increase its research activities.

Implement a new policy on post-tenure evaluation. Critical for HU. Retirement on the job is the elephant in the room. HU needs to craft a fair, just and legal policy for ensuring that top-ranked professors remain exemplars for all categories of expectations. This ties directly to improved productivity.

Establish a policy where faculty workload could be shifted to independent HU-allowed research institutes. Salaries could be based on both efforts; for the institute and normal HU duties.

—Errol Noel, Ph.D.

Take advantage of the knowledge and capability of CETLA as well Howard’s own CS department, and use free open source software instead of the costly proprietary software. An example of that might be to replace Blackboard with something like Moodle.

—Richard E. Bayne

I think a good way to raise money for HU would be to put transparent boxes at the cash registers so that people can donate when they check out at the HU Bookstore and, seasonally at McDonald's, and ask other well established businesses on Georgia Avenue to do the same. I know that some McDonald's restaurants do this to raise money for their charities, but all do not and they may not mind HU doing the same thing in their business establishments if it is not done year round.

—Jeanise Ealey

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