Stanford has begun a stealth initiative to improve its efficiency. Yes, in an effort that has received no broad publicity (that I could find), Provost John Etchemendy inaugurated a website a week ago on November 10th (or at least that was when the latest update to that site went up) that solicits ideas to improve the efficiency of Stanford university (the forum itself is here). He describes it the effort so far like this:
As you can see, many staff members have already shared their ideas about improving efficiency, and we’ve been able to respond to a good many. We’ve focused first on ideas that increase efficiency, as opposed to cut costs. That said, both are important—and we deeply appreciate all the thought and effort invested in every submission.
It seems as though this initiative is very much targeted at staff (possibly to the exclusion of students, but there was no specific directive as such), but I don’t see why the student population was ignored. Although staff might have better micro-level ideas for improving processes in-house, I believe that the student eye for waste is useful as well. I am also confused why cost-cuts might be ignored; if a program is wasteful, then cutting it or changing it makes the use of Stanford funds more efficient.
While I am very disappointed at the lack of student outreach, it’s at least a hopeful sign that Stanford is reaching out for creative ways to cut costs and thereby avoid deeper cuts to important programs (like the risk of athletics program cuts mentioned in the Daily today). Signing up for the website is a little more work than it should be (remind me again why everything isn’t just with one’s SUNet ID?), but it’s not too bad. I encourage everyone to visit the site and add your ideas or promote the ideas that you believe are best. The website closes on November 30th, so speak now or forever hold your peace!
I hope that in the future, Stanford will expand similar initiatives to include the student population and to allow more discussion of cost-cutting and life-improvement measures.