College undecided on consultants

by Christy O'Keefe | 12/1/09 11:00pm

Although several of Dartmouth's peer institutions have employed outside consulting firms to assist with expense reductions or, separately, to evaluate administrative practices, the College's administration has not yet decided whether to follow suit, College President Jim Yong Kim told The Dartmouth Editorial Board on Tuesday.

Three universities the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of California, Berkeley, and Cornell University recently hired Bain and Company to provide an institutional review.

Kim, who said in the meeting with the Editorial Board that the College is still considering all of its options, added that he did not know whether Dartmouth would benefit from an external review.

"If you pay someone a million or $2 million to find $145 million in savings that you wouldn't have seen, then it is a good investment, and we're just not sure if we're in that category," Kim said. "My sense is that we are pretty efficient."

If alumni contribute funding for a review, Dartmouth may consider an outside firm, Kim said.

"If they offer us a great price, and somebody steps up from the alumni pool to pay for it, we may do it, but we're just not sure," Kim said.

Dartmouth could potentially draw upon faculty, including professors at the Tuck School of Business with management consulting experience, or alumni expertise, to conduct an in-house budget review, Kim said.

UNC Chapel Hill's decision to hire Bain was not due to budgetary concerns, UNC chemistry professor Joe Templeton, who also serves as special assistant to the chancellor for planning and initiatives, said in an interview with The Dartmouth.

"The process was underway before the dramatic economic downturn," Templeton said. "It was not a response to budget difficulties."

Bain highlighted 10 areas in which the university could potentially reduce operating expenses, Templeton said, adding that the university is still evaluating the recommendations before implementing any changes.

"Hiring Bain has prompted a rethinking of how we do things," Templeton said. "It feels to me that it has worked out well so far."

Duke University is carrying out an extensive review of its budget without a consulting firm, according to David Jarmul, the university's associate vice president for news and communications.

Stanford University also has no plans to hire an outside firm, according to Lisa Lapin, Stanford's assistant vice president for university communications.

Representatives from Cornell University and University of California, Berkeley, declined to comment for this article.