While the cost of energy, equipment and facilities associated with running a major university rise, institutions across the nation are searching for ways to keep tuition increases to a minimum. Recently Penn State created a Task Force (headed by Executive Vice President and Provost, Rodney Erickson, and Senior Vice President for Finance and Business, Gary Schultz) to identify avenues to help the University cut costs and increase non-tuition income. The Task Force responded with recommendations that are expected to save Penn State millions of dollars over the next several years.
Information Technology Services (ITS) is contributing to these cost savings efforts through three programs that will help reduce University expenses for software purchases and national and international phone calls. "The ITS initiatives are expected to save the University hundreds of thousands of dollars a year," said Jeff Kuhns, senior director of Consulting and Support Services within ITS, "but, it all depends on how quickly and effectively these programs are adopted by University departments. The potential for savings, however, is significant."
New Calling Cards
With faculty and staff stationed around the globe, it's essential for Penn State to provide affordable ways for its employees to check e-mail and converse via phone from distant locations. To help offices and departments meet this need, ITS created two new calling options for University community use. Each of these plans, the Penn State Travel Calling Card and the International Prepaid Calling Card, will provide significant cost savings to departments by offering lower national and international rates for long distance calls. (Note: faculty and staff traveling on restricted or federally-funded budgets should only use the Travel Calling Card or their original calling options. The International Prepaid Calling Card does not meet federal audit requirements for recorded call detail information. See http://guru.psu.edu/policies/BS19.html for more information.)
Both calling cards- Travel and International -- are now available for general use and Penn State departments can begin replacing the more expensive ExecuBill Calling Cards and Corporate Calling Cards, with the newer options. Details of the new calling plans and recommendations for use can be found at: http://css.its.psu.edu/es/phone/index.html.
Penn State Software Contracts
Computer software purchases have become significant expenses in individual and University office budgets. In order to reduce these costs, ITS often negotiates with companies to purchase software in bulk or package-contracts. This software is then sold to departments and students at a reduced educational rate, saving the University and individuals thousands of dollars each year.
Many Penn State community members, however, aren't aware that these lower rates exist and sometimes purchase software at prices that greatly exceed the University's negotiated price. This spring, the University plans to spread the word to faculty, staff and students that software such as Microsoft Office, Adobe, SAS, Macromedia, FootPrints, Matlab, Autodesk and many other packages can be obtained at lower cost through Penn State's software contract programs. Information will be distributed through a variety of channels including a letter that will be sent to each of Penn State's Financial Officers, according to Kuhns. "Penn State has negotiated significant savings for many kinds of software," he explained, "yet we have students buying software such as EndNote-a useful bibliography tool-at the full price of $299, instead of the contract rate of $50. We want to ensure that both individuals and offices know their dollars will go a great deal further if they keep up-to-date with the University's negotiated software rates."
To learn more, check for a Mac or Windows software license title at the Penn State Computer Store web site (http://www.computerstore.psu.edu), or call 814-865-2100. For UNIX titles, questions can be directed to to firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPS at PSU
The Penn State Computer Store is now using the United Parcel Service (UPS) for campus deliveries, a method that is surprisingly more cost-effective than doing it in-house, according to Janda Hankinson, director of Entrepreneurial Services at ITS. "In the past we used our own trucks and staff to make deliveries, but when we did a cost comparison we discovered that UPS services were considerably less expensive."
The UPS administered deliveries, which began on trial basis last semester, have resulted in a variety of reactions from University departments and offices, Hankinson adds. "Some people have been confused when they find a UPS driver delivering Penn State computer equipment and software to their University office, but we've found this to be an extremely efficient service with significant savings for students, staff and faculty."
Under the new system, Computer Store customers can track their purchases online when they request a campus delivery; receive package insurance for each of their orders; and access next-day delivery capability twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Deliveries are also free to Penn State departments at all campus locations.
An official launch of the service this spring will feature a "Why UPS" awareness campaign, to help address customer's questions and increase understanding of how the delivery concept will enable Penn State to save money each year. "We think it's important for everyone to know that this is just one small example of the many cost-saving initiatives now taking place routinely across the University," said Hankinson. "The sum of all these efforts is where Penn State really gain-small projects that collectively create a more cost-effective University."
If you have questions about any of the above cost savings programs, please contact Janda Hankinson at: Janda@psu.edu, or visit ITS on the Web at: http://www.its.psu.edu/.
ITS Entrepreneurial Services
ITS Entrepreneurial Services is announcing the addition of security consulting into the suite of services that it offers the Penn State community. Starting this spring, the new services will include reviewing and installing and testing Microsoft patches and service packs on servers and workstations prior to user installation. Another service that has been added is the support of the ITS firewall service for departments and offices that may not have the time, resources, or expertise to install proper security measures on their own.
In addition to the new security services, network services are offered to Penn State offices at University Park at the current cost-recovery rate of $65 per hour.