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The Dartmouth
June 23, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

College acts on McKinsey report

Over three years since the management consulting firm McKinsey and Company released a report, commissioned by the College, critiquing the institution's organizational structure, Dartmouth has implemented many of the report's recommendations including the consolidation of several departments and an increase in the number of services for staff and faculty members.

Some of Dartmouth's peer institutions, including Cornell University, have hired outside consultants as they grapple with budget cuts in the wake of the current economic recession. College President Jim Yong Kim has not yet announced whether Dartmouth will be following suit.

The McKinsey report, released in 2006, highlighted issues at Dartmouth associated with growth in administrative compensation, organizational complexity, accountability and budgeting, among others

Dartmouth's administration has worked to improve transparency and implement a better process for institution-wide decisionmaking in response to the report's recommendations, according to College officials interviewed by The Dartmouth.

"We found that groups should be encouraged to include how they got to the decision they got to." Dean of Residential Life Martin Redman said. "It did not serve the institution well to just have the final point that came out of a committee's discussions."

The Dartmouth Daily Update, a daily e-mail to the Dartmouth community describing events on campus and important announcements, resulted from that discussion, Redman said.

McKinsey advised the College to expand advertising efforts and seek a larger pool of qualified candidates to improve the faculty recruitment and hiring process.

"The process was pretty bogged down," chief human resources officer Traci Nordberg said in an interview with The Dartmouth.

McKinsey also found that "there was insufficient accountability around departmental and individual performance." Immediately following the report's publication, the College worked to improve staff evaluations, Nordberg said. The College has also increased its stress on the importance of completing the evaluations.

"When I came in, there was 40-percent participation in performance evaluations," Nordberg said. "As of last year, there is upwards of 90-percent participation. People who are doing well need to be recognized and people who are struggling need more support and guidance."

The Ombuds Office, which helps employees deal with workplace concerns and conflicts, was created in February 2007 to give employees an outlet to discuss office issues.

"The Ombuds Office created many doors for employees to come with conflicts," Nordberg said. "There used to be difficulty with conflict resolution because people didn't know where to go."

At the same time, the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity was refocused to address discrimination issues exclusively, rather than also dealing with inter-office conflicts, Nordberg said.

McKinsey's report recommended that the College "ultimately consider how [Facilities, Operations and Management, the Office of Planning Design and Construction and student housing in the Office of Residential Life] could be consolidated."

Although it was not a direct result of the McKinsey report, the College commissioned a business case study in spring 2009 to evaluate the efficiency of the three offices, Redman said.

"It was not defined as a follow up, but it really tied together with some of the concepts of the McKinsey report," Redman said.

FO&M and the Office of Planning, Design and Construction were subsequently consolidated under the leadership of Linda Synder effective August 2009, Redman said. The two departments will eventually be located in the same building, although there is no set time frame for the change, Redman said.

The 2006 report also found that Dartmouth's human resources department must "reestablish its reputation as a reliable service organization that offers new employee orientation, employee training and a host of other services around employee relations" to improve faculty and staff functions.

In response to the recommendation, College officials in the human resources department created a new position responsible for welcoming new employees and their families to the Hanover area. The position was cut in spring 2009 as a result of budget cuts, Nordberg said.

The welcome information has since been put online in the form of a "manager's tool kit" that includes a template with advice for new employees, Nordberg said.

In addition to employee training, the McKinsey report stressed the importance of new employee orientation.

"The turnover that we had was because people were not getting comfortable with the area," Nordberg said.

The College also split the functions of the International Services Offices, following the report's recommendations.

"The Office of Visa and Immigration Services was created as a stand alone office and that reports to the general counsel," Nariah Broadus, special assistant to the president for initiatives and projects, said.

The College also decided to elevate Computing Services to a vice presidential area as a result of the report's recommendations and made Ellen Waite-Franzen the vice president for information technology, Broadus said.