SUNY Erie Releases Study to Inform Organizational Realignment
SUNY Erie Community College released today a report by the rpk Group, a consulting firm specializing in sustainable business modeling for higher education, that outlines a series of recommendations to make SUNY Erie stronger, sustainable, and better able to leverage resources most effectively for student success. Funding for this study was made possible by the John R. Oishei Foundation, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, M&T Foundation, Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, First Niagara Foundation, Western New York Foundation, and the Erie Community College Foundation, Inc.
rpk’s high-level goals were to develop an ideal academic portfolio for SUNY Erie that is responsive to student and community needs and to identify opportunities for academic and administrative restructuring to improve performance at a lower cost. rpk’s objective supports existing administration strategy to address significant organizational and structural issues at the college.
rpk was retained in December 2021 and analyzed student headcount and enrollment, and student success and graduation rates. A listing of rpk’s recommendations is attached to this release, which are in-line with SUNY Erie’s need to right-size the institution to meet community needs.
The analysis conducted by rpk identified three systemic issues:
- Even though enrollment is declining, SUNY Erie has not sufficiently right-sized faculty, staff, course offerings or facilities to reflect the smaller student population and reduced demand.
- The College’s historic three-campus model results in duplication of effort and unnecessary administrative and academic structures that perpetuate overstaffing.
- SUNY Erie has significant opportunity to adjust its operations and expenditures to align with SUNY Erie’s top priority of improving student outcomes.
Those observations fall in-line with the approach SUNY Erie is taking to address these issues, and affirms the College’s current strategy of:
- Providing retirement incentives, as possible, to address headcount issues.
- Structuring layoffs to right-size the workforce.
- Deactivating academic programs that have low demand while “teaching out” current students.
- Enabling programs in partnership with local industry sectors to fast-track students into well-paid, high-demand jobs in the workforce. This better connects SUNY Erie with the community and ensures the College is responding to the demands of today’s marketplace.
It’s important to emphasize that the implementation of any of rpk’s recommendations will not impact current, active students. The College will “teach out” students who are enrolled in recently deactivated programs. New students who have an interest in these areas can work with the SUNY Erie Admissions team to enroll in related program offerings.
“rpk’s assessment affirms what our community already knows. SUNY Erie must right-size the College’s staff, structure and footprint to best position the College for success,” said Dr. David Balkin, president, SUNY Erie. “Our priorities are confirmed by this report, and we will continue to work with all involved parties to evaluate and best implement data-based recommendations to ensure the long-term sustainability and success of the College.”