Quality improvement, planning vital to addressing challenges

May 04, 2009

University Park, Pa. — With the fiscal challenges facing Penn State and institutions of higher education nationwide in mind, Rod Erickson, executive vice president and provost, said Penn State is working through Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) teams and the development of the new University strategic plan to create greater efficiencies and cost savings.

"Students don't apply to Penn State because of the great processes that we've developed or because of the strength and rigor of our strategic plans," Erickson said Friday (May 1) at the Quality Issues Forum held at the Nittany Lion Inn. "But they do come because Penn State 'works.' When thousands of people are doing their jobs in a better way, it makes a big difference."

Erickson noted that even before the current financial crisis hit, higher education already was struggling with less public support and increasing costs in a broad range of areas from employee health insurance, to utility costs, to the need for new facilities and deferred maintenance on old ones.

At Penn State, Erickson said, the fiscal climate is impacting students and their families and the University is working hard to reduce costs and moderate tuition increases. Though Penn State finances are conservatively managed and in better shape than many institutions, the University will continue to be negatively impacted by the financial crisis and economic recession.

In "Priorities for Excellence: The Penn State Strategic Plan 2009-10 through 2013-14," which will be presented to the Board of Trustees later in May for approval, the University Strategic Planning Council has sought to address the financial challenges facing the University while still guaranteeing quality.  Controlling costs and generating additional efficiencies is one of the seven broad goals of the strategic plan.

"One of the key strategies for [that goal] is to promote CQI and reward innovation," Erickson said. "This recognizes the long history of success of CQI at Penn State and its continued potential to produce cost savings, better service and increased efficiencies."

Fifty-nine CQI teams were honored Friday afternoon, and Erickson cited the work of several as examples.  They included the efforts of one team to notify students by email that their student aid awards are ready to view online, saving costs and creating faster communication with students over the previous system. He cited another team for its successful efforts to quickly implement Direct Student Lending that improved access to federal loan funds for 40,000 Penn State students and their families.

He added that the work of CQI teams is integral to the goals set in the strategic plan.

"The vision of CQI is to create a community where everyone takes ownership for advancing the University, where high value is placed on teamwork, collaboration, communication and meeting the needs of the people we serve," Erickson explained. "It's all about excellence — in performance, people and processes.

For the full text of Erickson's remarks, visit http://live.psu.edu/story/39546.

  • Rod Erickson, Penn State executive vice president and provost. Click on the image above for the full text of Erickson's remarks.

    IMAGE: Greg Grieco

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated September 04, 2020