Governor Releases $500K to Fund ASU Efficiency Study

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018 1:04 pm   2 min read

Charles Welch

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is releasing $500,000 in state discretionary money to the Arkansas State University System to help fund its "Accelerate ASU" efficiency study.

System President Chuck Welch said the system signed a $995,000 contract with Huron Consulting Group of Chicago last fall to explore ways to grow revenue, reduce costs and reallocate resources to strategic initiatives. The firm expects to present 40 to 50 opportunities to the system and its campuses, with the majority of those focused on generating new revenue.

"President Welch has caught the vision that trimming unnecessary costs does not mean a reduction in services," Hutchinson said in a news release. "That is clear because he is helping to pay for this study with money he has saved by reducing expenses. His team estimates that as the ASU System implements initiatives, the payback in savings could be $12 million to $15 million a year. President Welch is one of many in our state who is leading by example."

Welch said the balance of the contract with Huron will be paid with the ASU System reserve funds accumulated from expense savings over the past six years. 

Welch alluded to the study in a statement on Tuesday reacting to the governor's request that state colleges freeze tuition rates for in-state students. Hutchinson announced the request in a letter to Arkansas college and university leaders and during his budget presentation to legislators in Little Rock.

"The primary purpose for this study is to reduce reliance on student tuition," Welch said. "Additionally, we continue to pursue new revenue streams through public-private partnerships and innovation activities.

"In the absence of dedicated state funding for capital improvements, deferred maintenance, health insurance costs and faculty and staff salaries, it's going to take continued creative thinking and changes in how we operate to meet the short-term and long-term needs of our students. This is precisely why the ASU System has been proactive in the past few years in containing costs, seeking new revenue streams and promoting maximum efficiency in our operations."

Welch said Huron surveyed all ASU System faculty and staff for the study and received 900 responses, with 40 percent from faculty. The study is expected to be completed early this year.



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