Stevens continues to have a healthy fiscal profile, despite numerous unanticipated budgetary impacts this year. During FY20, the Budget Advisory Committee unanimously endorsed the continued use and fine-tuning of the Responsibility Center Management model. The School of Business successfully finished its reaccreditation with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, and external unit reviews were completed for two academic units. Administrative unit reviews for three units were started but paused in March 2020 due to the many urgent demands associated with the global pandemic. Stevens’ reliance on its technology enterprise was tested during a cyberattack in August 2019 and then again as an abrupt switch to remote teaching and business operations was implemented in March 2020. New cybersecurity initiatives to improve Stevens’ security posture were put in place, substantial progress was made on the Workday Student project, and best-in-class technology for teaching and learning was quickly implemented to support remote operations. A strong and accomplished new Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer was also recruited. The Gateway Academic Center was completed, numerous renovations and upgrades were made throughout the campus, and significant progress was made on the construction of the Student Housing/University Center project, with a target completion date of May 2022.
We will develop a new incentive-based budget model, including implementation of an appropriate form of Responsibility Center Management (RCM) for the size and configuration of the Stevens budget. The RCM model will aim to align administrative authority with financial responsibility and accountability at the local level; calibrate resources with priorities by making funding available through the annual budgeting process to achieve the goals of the strategic plan; deploy budget allocations that provide incentives for improved performance above target goals; and spur thoughtful and measured risk-taking.
Owners: Vice President Louis Mayer, PROVOST CHRISTOPHE PIERRE
The inaugural Stevens RCM model was initially developed and implemented in FY18, as part of a three-year pilot program (FY18-FY20). The Stevens RCM model was created by the Division of Finance in partnership with the Provost’s Office and with input from the Academic Deans. The model was also reviewed and evaluated by the University’s Budget Advisory Committee (BAC) and presented to the Finance Committee of the Board of Trustees and the full Board for their endorsement. In addition, the Budget Office invited two external reviewers (the CFO of a peer RCM institution and a higher education consultant with RCM subject matter expertise) to evaluate the Stevens RCM model, particularly with reference to the usual and customary RCM modeling practices in the higher education sector. The RCM results are reviewed with the BAC on a regular basis throughout the year, as well as during the development of the annual budget.
The implementation of the Stevens RCM model has been effective and has successfully linked academic administration decision-making with financial responsibility at the school level. Allocations of upside net tuition revenue resources, which are permitted to be rolled over each year, have been used in a fiscally-prudent manner to fund strategic initiatives, critical operating and capital needs, and contingency reserves. Some of the contingency reserves have also been used as set-asides to cover shortfalls in years in which actual revenues fall short of targets. During FY20, the BAC unanimously endorsed the continued use and fine-tuning of the model going forward, while continually examining its strengths and weaknesses. During the development of the FY21 Forecast and the FY22 Budget, the RCM model will be updated and enhanced as appropriate.
Periodic external reviews will be conducted for all academic units and programs. High priority will be placed on those units and programs subject to accreditation reviews by MSCHE, ABET and AACSB. Results of reviews will be used to ensure optimal effectiveness and efficient use of university resources.
Owner: PROVOST CHRISTOPHE PIERRE
All recommendations from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) final report are continuously addressed, and an annual report is provided to MSCHE. The School of Business successfully finished its reaccreditation with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
Additionally, in AY 2019-20, External Unit Reviews were completed for the following academic units: Department of Civil, Environmental, and Ocean Engineering and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
These reviews provided recommendations on the strength of the faculty, education, and research programs. The input will be used by program leaders, the Dean, and the Office of the Provost in resource allocation decisions, hiring, and to guide the future direction of educational and research programs.
A review methodology and quantitative metrics will be established to assess all administrative functions over a five-year period to evaluate their efficiency and effectiveness, with reference to appropriate external resources such as industry benchmark data and independent program reviews conducted by practitioners from best-in-class institutions.
Owners: President Nariman Farvardin, Vice President Louis Mayer, Vice President Warren Petty, Provost Christophe Pierre
The Administrative Unit Reviews (AURs) planned for FY20 included the Stevens Career Center, the Samuel C. Williams Library, the Division of Human Resources, and the Division of Finance.
The process was well underway for the Stevens Career Center, Samuel C. Williams Library, and Division of Human Resources when the AURs were paused in March 2020 due to the many urgent demands associated with transitioning to remote business operations and the many subsequent efforts necessary to adapt to new health guidance, government restrictions, and community concerns.
The AUR Steering Committee will make a recommendation regarding resuming these reviews for FY21 and adjusting the schedule for those AURs planned for FY21.
Similar to the process of academic accreditation, the AUR process encompasses five key components: (1) a comprehensive self-study through which each unit prepares a critical self-analysis of its scope of services, processes, functions, staffing, and other factors relating to the efficiency and effectiveness of the unit; (2) extensive external peer review by experienced administrative leaders from respected institutions; (3) broad and diverse stakeholder input; (4) a report and set of recommendations prepared by external peer reviewers; and, (5) a response from the unit, including the development of an action plan to address reviewers’ recommendations and opportunities for improvement.
We will have a state-of-the-art information technology enterprise. The IT and networking infrastructure will be an enabler to advance our academic, research, and administrative functions, providing the tools, technology, and capabilities to lead in our academic focus areas and to maximize the efficiency, effectiveness and productivity of administrative operations.
Owner: Vice President Tej Patel
In Year 8, Stevens’ reliance on its technology enterprise was tested during a cyberattack in August 2019 and then again as an abrupt switch to remote teaching and business operations was implemented in March 2020 as a result of the global pandemic.
New cybersecurity initiatives to improve Stevens’ security posture have been put in place including new policies and standards, a vulnerability management program, an endpoint management system, an endpoint security platform, a local administrator password solution, encryption services, advanced network monitoring, cloud email for researchers, a security awareness program, and an in-house security operations center. Additionally, several network upgrades were completed to make it more robust against attacks, and new equipment has been installed to provide redundancy and resiliency at both the main campus site and disaster recovery site.
Substantial progress was made on the Workday Student project in the areas of data conversion, integrations, business process and security administration, testing, reporting, and change management. This work was critical in supporting the implementation and allowing for a spring 2021 go-live date for the 2021-2022 academic year.
The integration of best-in-class technology for teaching and learning has been at the forefront of the university’s efforts, both in the areas of instructional design and classroom technology. This was evidenced when the university moved to remote teaching and business operations in March 2020 due to the pandemic. Zoom has now become the collaboration standard and backbone for all online and Stevens Flex delivery. IT and WebCampus have collaborated to deliver dozens of professional development opportunities including hybrid preparedness, online learning best practices, Zoom security, multimedia, and advanced instructional design practices with Canvas. IT has implemented assessment, polling, and attendance tools to facilitate online and hybrid instruction.
The constraints that the pandemic have placed on the university and the switch to remote operations has required the division to put on hold the staffing plan resulting from a critical resource needs assessment. IT continues to operate as efficiently as possible and will focus on reorganization and the refinement and execution of this plan with the new Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer.
Stevens’ finances will continue to improve and strengthen, including enhancing the liquidity profile of the university from a baseline of 0.2 in 2012 to a target of a minimum of 1.0 by 2022 (the equivalent of approximately three months of operating expenses, and based on fiscal year-end audited financial statements).
Owner: Vice President Louis Mayer
The liquidity index measures the university’s ability to meet current needs using currently available resources. A target threshold value of a minimum of 1.0 is desirable. Stevens’ liquidity index was 1.52 as of June 30, 2020.
Another key financial metric for an institution is the composite financial index (CFI), which is the weighted average of the following four key metrics into a single measure of overall financial health: primary reserve ratio, net operating revenue ratio, return on net assets ratio, and viability ratio. A threshold value of 3.0 is considered the minimum level of an acceptable financial health score. Stevens’ CFI was 3.68 as of June 30, 2020. The historical trend of the university’s liquidity index and CFI are shown below. Both of these metrics reflect a healthy fiscal profile for Stevens.
Stevens will construct a University Center that will function as the heart of the university and a hub of student, faculty, staff and visitor interactions. In addition, a significant inventory of student housing will be added to our campus through development of new residence halls and modernization of existing dormitories.
Owner: Vice President Robert Maffia
Significant progress was made during Year 8 on the construction of the Student Housing/University Center project. The project has a target completion date of May 31, 2022 but is presently proceeding ahead of schedule. It will be fully occupied and ready for full use for the start of the Fall 2022 semester.
At the end of Year 8, the bluff retaining wall, the excavation and foundation, and the service tunnel connecting the Howe Building to the University Center were completed. Critical underground utilities were completed, and additional work requested by the City, which was not part of the original design, was in process. Both tower cranes and material hoists were fully operational.
The University Center superstructure was completed with placement of all concrete slabs and masonry installation underway. Interior framing was being constructed in both tower ground floors as was exterior framing. Concrete slabs were also placed up to the 10th floor of the north tower and 9th floor of the south tower, and the floors were readied for curtain wall installation which was in fabrication in preparation for the July 2020 start of installation. Bridge steel was in place awaiting metal decking.
Electric service installation was in process, and major mechanical equipment was delivered to the mezzanine floor of the University Center, the hub of the mechanical system. Infrastructure risers were in process.
At the end of Year 8, construction was in full swing with 220-230 workers on site each day. Progress was as or better than expected and was only briefly interrupted by the pandemic restrictions since construction was listed as an essential business in New Jersey.
We will implement plans to create a world-class physical environment for students, faculty and staff. We will expand and modernize the physical infrastructure to accommodate planned growth and upgrade existing space for instructional, research, student life, residential, and administrative needs, including completion of a state-of-the-art academic center, the North Building, the Babbio Garage expansion, and a University Center and Student Housing project, along with ongoing renovations of classrooms, study spaces, student life spaces and the campus itself. In addition, Stevens will be a model of sustainability, through innovative energy initiatives, policies and programs to promote use of biodegradable materials and recycling, and smart transportation initiatives to reduce use of cars.
Owner: Vice President Robert Maffia
At the end of Year 8:
- The Gateway Academic Center was completed and in operation. The building achieved LEED Gold designation, which is a first for the campus.
- The conversion of Alexander House to an Interim Student Center was completed and designed for alternative use after the new University Center is completed.
- The 9th Street Pedestrian Walkway was completed, and improvements were completed in McLean Plaza, the Torch Bearers Statue, Information Technology space, and the Lore-El event terrace.
- The second phase of the Heating Remediation Project was completed, adding significant heating capacity to Jonas Hall, Castle Point Hall, and Davis Hall.
- Planning began for the renovation of Howe 10 (Registrar and Student Accounts) and Howe 7 (Office of Sponsored Programs and the Office of Sponsored Accounting) to improve office access and provide space for relocated departments.
- Upgrades were made to program space to support the expansion of Stevens’ research efforts:
- Babbio 634 Student Lab
- Burchard 515 Quantum Lab
- Burchard 710 Physics Office
- EAS 130C Robotics Lab
- Griffith Advanced Construction Materials Lab
- Projects underway at the end of Year 8 included work on the Howe Building elevator (completed during Summer 2020), the McLean Hall Hazardous Waste/Storage Facility, and the first phase of the McLean Infrastructure project. Projects that were deferred because of the pandemic included work in the Babbio Center, Burchard Building, and the S.C. Williams Library.
- Also, due to the pandemic, a significant amount of infrastructure work was done on the HVAC systems to provide CDC and ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers) recommendations for ventilation.
- Sustainability continued to be a focus during Year 8. The LED Lighting Replacement project was completed; an AASHE (Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) Gold rating was achieved with Stevens also being listed on the Sierra Club “Cool Schools” list and as a Green College in Princeton Review; the majority of Stevens’ gas-fired landscape equipment was converted to electric; and Stevens was recognized in a number of categories of Recyclemania 2020, an annual competition among higher education institutions that compares recycling results. In that competition, Stevens placed 1st in NJ and 8th nationally, out of 145 entrants, in diversion rate and also placed 2nd in NJ and 9th nationally, out of 190 entrants, in recycling per capita. Additionally, Stevens purchased renewable energy credits to offset 100% of its electricity usage; and the Traffic Demand Management Plan was put into operation, focusing on reducing single-occupant vehicles to campus through a series of incentives for using public transportation, bicycling, ride sharing, etc.