Let's Drop This Practice

  • Currently, the Civil Engineering structural test labs share space with the Fine Arts sculptural department at the South Park Annex complex. The two departments are not compatible. My suggestion is a separation of the shared parking and work areas by a fence, with a separate entrance and signage for each department. Our department needs to be distinguished from the arts, particularly when we are trying to compete for research dollars. By improving the appearance, we would be able to present a better first impression to visiting research partners and improve our credibility, allowing us to attract more research money.
  • Currently there is no regulated parking at the South Park Annex for students, staff and professors. This leads to an overly congested and disorganized parking lot. There are no marked spaces, handicapped spots, loading zones, or signage noting who can park where. Also, there is no parking permit enforcement, which amounts to a loss of revenue for the university.
  • Make more frequent custodial visits to the restrooms to replenish paper towels and toilet paper and turn off water. Making one visit and stocking up leads to lots of waste – water  faucets are left running frequently, and students tend to scatter extra toilet paper and towels all over the place.
  • Implement and maintain an effective post tenure review. Faculty who are not productive should have their pay reduced, or be allowed to retire early.
  • This idea is regarding the business process for students who have attended UH previously as an undergraduate and wish to return as graduate students. UH requires that the students submit an official transcript to show the courses they completed here. UH has the students’ records. The transcript is $10 per copy. Some graduate departments require more than one copy. I feel it would elevate the customer service experience with our alumni if we could look at the records in our system. No printing of the transcript using the very expensive transcript paper would be required. We could GO GREEN in this respect. Students feel the current process is ridiculous since the records are here at UH.
  • Stop departments from sending unnecessary copies of vouchers to treasury.  Departments and colleges send copies of vouchers to treasury to send with checks. Treasury does not send out copies of vouchers with checks and shreds any documents we receive, unless it is an enclosure for utilities, memberships or dues. This is a complete waste of paper and employee time. On average, treasury shreds approximately 100 pieces of paper per week.
  • Find a solution to put bi-weekly payroll on the electronic time and labor system. Until such time that the bi-weekly payroll is electronic, the system needs to be retooled, as the current process is very labor and material intensive. Bi-weekly employees still fill out hard copy timesheets. Blank timesheets are sent from the payroll department to treasury. A treasury clerk then sorts the blank timesheets by department. An employee from each department or college must then physically come to treasury and pick up the blank sheets and distribute them to each division and return the completed time sheets back to treasury for delivery back to payroll.
  • Many employees still receive a paper check for their first paycheck due to the ACH pre-note policy the system has in place. We should eliminate the pre-note process. It is no longer a requirement of our bank and has been retained by the system out of an abundance of caution for the employee, but that caution comes at a cost. Approximately 5 percent of those employees never come to pick up their check. The department is required to stale date the checks after 90 days and another department then has to make accounting entries to record the liability and eventually escheat the money to the state if it remains unclaimed. This is an avoidable process.
  • As to practices to drop, I would recommend elimination of the foreign language requirement for graduate students in American history, unless their field of study has a direct relationship to people from other countries. While the foreign language requirement is important at the undergraduate level and for graduate students whose work involves international study, it serves no purpose to students of American history, particularly since they would have had a language as an undergrad. This is admittedly a small sum, but it would save both the university and students money.        
  • Take a very close look at the summer offerings to be sure that our offerings maximize income.  This probably will decrease the number of advanced courses offered, but if students knew this information before the start of the spring semester, they could make reasonable alternate plans.
  • Many college priorities are never approved by faculty. These priorities usually are an individualized opinion or an opinion of the few (mainly administrators).  This process leads to budgetary decisions, which many are not aware of, made by a few individuals. In many cases, these decisions are not needed.
  • Why do we have an electronic time and effort system if I still have to fill out a paper request and have it signed?
  • Staff members spend a great deal of time trying to schedule classrooms. The current system needs to be fixed or eliminated.
  • No food/refreshments at meetings.
  • Do not hold classes on Friday. There would be energy savings from dark classrooms and offices. Students and faculty would save money on commuting. Students would have more time for their jobs. Faculty would have more time to research.
  • Move the College of Technology to UHD.  UHD has an existing College of Technology.  These two colleges can be merged at a considerable savings to the UH System.  The quality of the undergraduate students in our CoT is not what you want to find in a Tier One university.  In addition to the undergraduate-student quality issue, UH is presently devoting faculty positions to CoT that should be going to departments that can use them to bolster a valid Tier One claim.  Our CoT is never going to make a strong research contribution to UH and its Tier One goal.
  • I strongly suggest a moratorium on new buildings that are bond supported. If we want to build a new building, it should be part of a capital campaign, and supported largely from private or state funds. We waste a ton of money on these items. For example: 1) SERCC was built without proper management and funding and is now 5-plus years with shell space. Faculty have been recruited and left who should have been moved into this space. 2) The graduate & professional dorm went over budget and isn’t operating at a profit. 3) the new biomedical (optometry building) is going to be built as shell space and will not be usable. Each of these buildings could have been the Jane Doe Graduate Dorms, or the John Doe SERCC.
  • Close the Moores School of Music and the College of Technology.
  • Faculty and staff complete monthly long-distance usage logs, which involves printing out a copy of all long distance calls and completing a form. This form is transmitted to college administrators for approval and to the college business office for processing. Often, this process costs more in time, effort and supplies (paper) than the cost of the calls.  It seems reasonable to use forms only if the monthly charge is more than some minimal amount, e.g. $2 or $5.
  • Long distance phone calls must be identified as business/personal by the caller, irrespective of amount. Thus, even long distance calls costing UH 26 cents are sent to faculty. Labor costs involved in making requests of small amounts exceed the cost. 
  • Every morning, there is always a long line of cars at the stop sign in front of the rec center with a Parking Officer/Traffic Director just standing there.  Evaluate the value of having officers present if they are not needed.
  • Instructors should be trusted to enter grade changes online, without wasting time with paper forms requiring multiple signatures. Incomplete grades should also require no special form or agreement. If an instructor gives one, it should just be that the grade of 'I' automatically changes to an 'F' in one year, unless the instructor enters a grade change before that time.
  • Excess property is possibly not getting fair return value when being disposed of by Property Management.  I had wanted the ability to auction off a lot of our spare/unused parts and return the funds to our department before sending them to Property Management.  I had suggested this to property management but was told the state regulations would not make it possible. 
  • The computing facilities are redundant - we acquire and maintain an ever increasing number of lab computers, often duplicating expensive equipment already in place. Our current fee structure requires us to segment fee money in ways that make it difficult if not impossible to undertake any serious consolidation effort and avoid unnecessary duplication of equipment like high-end wide format printers or expensive video rendering workstations. I suggest:
    1. A fee structure change to allow us to pool fee money into a single IT fund within the department instead of dividing it into specific programs/concentrations.
    2. Consolidate to the greatest extent possible our various labs into a centralized computing facility with a distinct joint facility for graduate studies.
    3. A minimal construction project to renovate a space conducive to such a facility.
    4. Increased flexibility in class scheduling so a smaller number of computers are continuously utilized throughout the day.
  • Over time, large institutions that are decentralized and have autonomous working groups, tend to create redundant functions out of necessity. As growth slows, they discover it is hard to sustain the status quo. Procurement is one such function. Significant cost savings may be available when standardizing procurement processes and rationalizing vendors through a vendor management program to encourage volume/price discounts. This may also help analyze structured terms & conditions for payment, discounts for early payment, penalties to the vendor for product/service quality issues.

  • One entry channel to secure various types of access to PeopleSoft.  Currently, you must request access to different segments of the same system to a myriad of different individuals.  For example, an advisor must gain access to portals for HR, IRIS, Exchange, CougarNet, PeopleSoft, Imaging, etc. Each segment has to be approved/processed by a different individual.  The degree of fragmentation presents higher probabilities of lost/misplaced/never processed paperwork and GREATLY hinders efficiency and the ability of staff to serve students.