Putting Maverick Ideas Into Action
Earlier this summer, UT Arlington introduced a new online resource for proposing ideas for improving the University.
Since the launch of Maverick Ideas in mid-May, a total of 228 users have registered for the site, 84 ideas have been posted, and 1,856 votes have been cast.
Many of the initial ideas have been reviewed and assessed by appropriate senior managers, including President Spaniolo, and several ideas have been approved for implementation. Other ideas are still under review and consideration.
Following is an update on some of the ideas that were most popular and that received high numbers of positive votes. In some cases, several similar ideas have been combined for reporting purposes.
Reduce Costs Related to Printing and Publishing
Hold-the-Date-Cards. All units of the University are asked to immediately discontinue printing and mailing hold-the-date cards and letters, especially for internal distribution. Hold-the-date cards for external audiences, such as donors and alumni, are still permitted but should be used only when absolutely necessary.
Flyers and Holiday Cards. All units of the University are asked to immediately cut back on the printing and mailing of internal flyers. Instead, information should be submitted to MavWire (faculty and staff) or TrailBlazer (students), the University's official internal e-newsletters. All units should discontinue producing holiday cards, both print and electronic, intended for internal audiences. Holiday cards and e-cards for key external audiences, such as donors and alumni, are acceptable.
Produce E-Newsletters. Last year, the University launched a new internal communications program that included the e-newsletters MavWire (for faculty and staff) and TrailBlazer (for students). These are the official vehicles for internal communications. Other internal e-newsletters and listservs are discouraged in order to cut down on duplication and clutter. However, the Alumni Association, colleges, schools, and certain departments/programs produce externally focused newsletters, both print and electronic, for key constituents. These newsletters are essential to meeting the communications objectives for these important audiences.
Use Recycled Paper for Publications. The University is committed to making informed and responsible choices about sustainability in the print materials it produces. For instance, a significant amount of the publications currently produced by University Communications contain recycled fiber content. Additionally, the department seeks to use Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified papers and vendors—the printing industry's highest standard—whenever possible and feasible. The University's stationery is printed on recycled paper.
Reduce Energy Costs
Saving Energy. The University has aggressively worked to achieve energy savings during the past few years, especially through utility savings initiatives. Additionally, new buildings like the Engineering Research Building, Special Events Center, and College Park are being built to meet LEED certification—the construction industry standard for energy efficiency.
Saving Electricity. While more efficient lighting and thermostats have been installed in many offices across the University, it is important that everyone take an active role doing their part to reduce electricity consumption. Simple actions like turning off lights and equipment when not in use can help the University reduce its energy costs.
Close the University on Fridays. Closing the University on Fridays during the summer would not be feasible. The University has a number of campus-wide programs, events, and services that simply must be available on Fridays. This summer the University once again has implemented the flexible Summer Hours Program, which provides opportunities to work four 10-hour days with one day off during the work week.
Implement a Voluntary Furlough Program. The University is not currently considering a furlough program. Such programs create staffing and service issues and also can be problematic in terms of employee benefits.
Implement Blackboard. Blackboard is a web-based learning environment that facilitates communications and information flow between faculty members and students. The University has purchased the Blackboard system, and the target date for implementation is spring 2011. More information on Blackboard will be available in the coming months.
Evening and Weekend Courses. The University is currently considering additional evening and weekend courses, where feasible.
Copy Machine Leases. Many departments currently are reviewing their copy machine and printer needs and are looking for ways to consolidate and save money, wherever possible. Additionally, the University is studying ways to further reduce costs through innovative purchasing arrangements.
Employee Morale. Universities provide virtually unlimited opportunities for entertainment, enrichment, and continuing education. Many activities, such as exhibits, concerts, lectures, sports events, theater performances, and brownbag lunches are offered free or at a reduced cost to faculty and staff. Additionally, many departments on campus, such as Human Resources, develop lunchtime activities that are open to all employees.
Create a Web Link for the Maverick Discount Program. The link for the Maverick Discount Program already exists on the Human Resources, Staff Advisory Council, and Student Congress websites.
Discontinue Renting Telephones. The University does not currently rent office telephones from the phone company. Since 1983, the University has owned all of its telephones, as well as related telephone switching equipment.
Build Parking Garages. Next month, the University will break ground on an 1,800-space parking garage that will form the core of the College Park development at the corner of UTA Boulevard and Center Street. The first phase of the garage is expected to open in summer 2012.
Keep the good ideas flowing. To submit an idea or to review ideas posted by others, visit the Maverick Ideas website.