Initiative looks into inefficiencies, gaps in university’s academic services

Maria Nann

Provost says Kent State offers too many LERs

The average Kent State student spends four hours during his or her student career in advising. Students spend three of those hours talking about Liberal Education Requirements.

This is the opposite of what the university wants, said Robert Frank, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

“I’d like to think students spent more time in advising,” he said. “But to spend three hours on LERs is not what we should be doing.”

An initiative from Frank’s office is looking at how Kent State could improve academic services – the things the university does for students, such as advising.

What makes this initiative special is that the team is looking at academic services through the eyes of students, Frank said.

The Tiger Team – its name coined from business terminology – is looking into inefficiencies within the university. The team’s job is to look for flaws in the system.

Pete Goldsmith, vice president for enrollment management and student affairs, cited the information incoming freshmen receive as an example.

“After a student is admitted to Kent State, we send them about 300 pages of stuff,” Goldsmith said. “Sometimes it overlaps, and sometimes it is downright confusing.

“By looking at how we can do things better, perhaps we can provide a better pathway for students into the institution.”

Greg Hackett, Goodyear professor in the College of Business, is leading the team in its search for redundancies, overlaps and gaps in academic services.

Goldsmith said the team is keeping two things in mind – how to do things better and how to save the university money by doing things better.

The team, which started working during the summer, has been giving informal updates since their investigation began, Frank said. A more formal update of their findings is expected in October.

The group started by looking at advising and has spent a lot of time looking at LERs. The team discovered that Kent State offers many more LERs than necessary, Frank said. It also found that requirements often confuse students.

The group has also looked into the information flow to students. Students sometimes receive information several times regarding the same topic but are given different information, Frank said.

“Redundancy isn’t necessarily bad,” he said. “But if you’re doing it three and four times and giving different messages, that’s when we have problems.”

Frank said the university chose to put Hackett in charge of the team because he’s someone who came from the corporate world and can look at the situation in the university with fresh eyes.

“Their entire approach is to systematize all the things we do and help us see where we’re inefficient,” Frank said. “We want to try to figure out those differences, and that’s what they’re helping us with.”

Contact academic affairs reporter Maria Nann at [email protected].