Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

Effective Use of Resources: SCUP 11 in Retrospect: Integrating Academic, Fiscal, and Facilities Planning

Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

Effective Use of Resources: SCUP 11 in Retrospect: Integrating Academic, Fiscal, and Facilities Planning

Article excerpt

Drawing on his experience as Provost for Planning at West Virginia University, Raymond M. Haas deals in the following article with the importance of a proper charge to the Planning Office as a means of achieving integrated planning. He further proposes that the role of the Planning Office should be clearly coordinative in nature--to the point where its only responsibility for actual planning should be in planning the planning process. Finally, he argues that " ... integrated planning can be achieved only when planning is a regularly scheduled activity which occurs frequently, and which produces results that manifest themselves in the allocation, reallocation, and effective use of resources within the institution."

The author's remarks have been adapted from his presentation at the Society's 11th Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.


The topic of integrated planning is most often approached from the point of view of "How does one make all the numbers come out in balance?" If a particular new program is planned, questions are asked such as, "How many square feet of space must be provided for its implementation; how many faculty and staff will be needed; how many students will be attracted; and how and when will the money be provided to pay for it all?" The mechanics for integrating plans in that fashion are perhaps as old as the simultaneous equation. What is more, integrated planning from that perspective has a very poor record of success because it produces plans whose major virtue is internal consistency and whose principal fault is external irrelevancy. Some of the long-range plans for food supply produced by various nations in the 1960's are classic illustrations of this case. The topic of this presentation, then, is not so much "how to prepare an integrated plan," but rather "how to develop an environment wherein the practice of integrated planning will take hold and flourish."

Aside from strong support by the chief executive, the most important determinants of the ease with which academic, fiscal, and facilities planning will be integrated in any institution are:

* The organizational structure of the institution;

* The charge given the Planning Office; and

* The persistence and relevance of the planning effort.

Organizational Structure of the Institution

Both in theory and in fact, every style of administrative organization has various strengths and weaknesses. In that regard, one of the strengths of the organizational structure at West Virginia University is that it promotes effective coordination of campus-wide activities. The structure is very flat, thus enhancing vertical communications by eliminating the many levels of management often found in a more pyramidal structure. A flat organizational structure also forces a sense of collegiality on the participants, as solutions to complex interworkings must of necessity be resolved through negotiation by co-equals (a "boss" is not readily available to settle disputes).

On the other hand, the early management consultant, V. A. Graicunas, recognized that flat organizational structures and their large spans of control perhaps retard communication simply because the many managers at each level face the limited ability of any executive to listen to and to deal with everyone who needs to see him or her. Graicunas recommended that a manager's span of control should not exceed five persons. (1) However. even in the most pyramidal organizational structures. that limit was reached very early at the bottom of the pyramid and was exceeded routinely even near the top.

To offset the problems faced by the presence of a broad span of control, West Virginia University adopted the concept of the "President's Office. "In this structure, persons at the vice-presidential level are appointed to share a piece of the presidency. While having no line authority in the organization, they typically serve, by specialization in some facet of institutional concern, to expand the capacity of the president and his office to handle the number of persons and problems which normally come before him. …

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