Powers Asks Business Leaders to Review University Efficiency and Suggest Cost Cuts

A group of private sector leaders from such companies as Accenture, Boeing and Dell are reviewing business practices at The University of Texas at Austin and developing strategies to reduce costs and make the university more efficient.

President Bill Powers has charged the 13-member Committee on Business Productivity to issue recommendations this year for bringing best practices to the university's business procedures, organization, commercialization efforts and asset management. The group is chaired by Stephen J. Rohleder, who served as chief operating officer at Accenture until 2009 and now heads the management consulting and technology services company's global Health and Public Services operating group.

"Examining and, when necessary, overhauling the way we do business is essential for UT to remain a top national research university," Powers says. "The state budget is tight, but these are steps we should take even in the best of times. Just as our scholars challenge the theories of prior generations and our students question the way they previously viewed the world, we should always ask if there are better ways to run our organization."

The university has about 50,000 students, 20,000 employees and a $2.3 billion annual operating budget.

The committee, which met for the first time in late March, will build on other recent efforts to cut costs and improve efficiency, from consolidating offices and changing procurement practices to handling more transactions online. It will play a similar role on the operational side that other committees, including the Commission of 125 and the Task Force on Undergraduate Graduation Rates, have played on the academic side of the university.

"The University of Texas has a long history of high performance, and I applaud President Powers on his leadership to improve the university's cost management, which includes reviewing processes to identify ways to do things more efficiently and to improve overall productivity," says Rohleder, who earned his bachelor's degree in finance at The University of Texas at Austin. "Drawing on approaches that have proven widely successful in helping businesses streamline and become more efficient, educational institutions have tremendous opportunities to make better use of scarce budget resources."

The committee will work closely with campus leadership to issue a final report by the end of December. The group will develop benchmarks for successful operations, interview university employees and contractors, and analyze data about the university's costs, outcomes and efficiency.

Its three subcommittees will examine: the efficiency of the university's administrative structure, including in its colleges and units; current practices to commercialize and market technology developed by the university; and how effectively the university manages its range of assets, from its trademark and brand to its land and books.

Powers selected the committee members for their diverse business backgrounds and perspectives. They include alumni of The University of Texas at Austin, Harvard, Stanford, Rice, Oxford and other universities. They are:

  • Stephen J. Rohleder, committee chairman, Accenture, Austin
  • Jason Downie, HM Capital Partners, Dallas
  • Stephan A. James, Accenture, Spicewood
  • Paul Kinscherff, The Boeing Company, Chicago
  • Gary Kusin, TPG Capital, Dallas
  • David Moross, Falconhead Capital, New York
  • Ben Rodriguez, Management and Business Advisors, San Antonio
  • Hector Ruiz, Bull Ventures, San Francisco and Austin
  • Sam Susser, Susser Holdings Corp., Corpus Christi
  • Charles Tate, Capital Royalty, Houston
  • Larry Tu, Dell Inc., Round Rock
  • Lynn Utter, Knoll Inc., East Greenville, Pa.
  • Marcie Zlotnik, StarTex Power, Houston