The three goals of Keene State College’s Sustainability and Vitality Plan are to improve recruitment, retention, and achievement of students, faculty, and staff, improve fiscal planning and stewardship and to rethink the college’s work as a student-centered organization. To help the college achieve these goals, KSC is partnering with Huron Consulting Group.
According to their website, Huron is “a global consultancy that collaborates with clients to drive strategic growth, ignite innovation and navigate constant change… [and] help[s] clients accelerate operational, digital and cultural transformation, enabling the change they need to own their future.” Huron has already worked with the University of New Hampshire (UNH) during the fall semester to help save costs, improve operations and to provide student experience recommendations. Plymouth State University will also be working with Huron this semester.
Chancellor for the University System of New Hampshire Todd Leach said that the hope for this partnership is to improve the student experience.
“What I can tell you is that it is very important to both President Treadwell and myself that we remain focused on supporting the best student experience we can,” Leach said. “The goal of the engagement is not to simply find efficiencies, but find opportunities to better align resources with those strategic investments that have the greatest potential to positively impact the student experience.”
What Huron will be doing on campus specifically is identifying areas where KSC could make improvements, give those suggestions and then leaders at KSC will decide which recommendations to move forward with. KSC Chief Enrollment Manager MB Lufkin will be working as the liaison between the Strategic Advisory Team and the Cabinet. The Strategic Advisory Team is going to help the Cabinet prioritize the recommendations from Huron.
“I’m also managing all of the data gathering from Huron,” Lufkin said. “I’ve been working with all the departments to identify and collect all the data Huron has requested. They’re going to be looking at any number of files, including how we use our facilities, how we schedule our classes, how we’re staffed, how we’re organized. They’re looking at information on admissions, on how we’re distributing our financial aid; all areas across the college.”
KSC Director of Strategic Project Management Michelle Wood will be working to ensure that any Huron recommendations are aligned with Keene State’s strategic plan. Huron will also be engaging with those on campus to help inform their recommendations.
“They’re going to do some interviews with faculty, staff and students, just to understand and gain some insight from those who are here at the institution in terms of where there might be some opportunity for improvement to better serve the students and to also help us identify some places for cost savings,” Wood said.
Other than these interviews, there should not be any interruption or changes to everyday campus life. Two or three Huron representatives will be on campus for about two weeks, one of those weeks being spring break.
“I think it’s important that people know this is tied to our strategic planning process, it’s not separate from it,” Lufkin said. “The three major goals Melinda [Treadwell] outlined when she arrived are still the three goals. What we’re looking to do is get information that will help us advance those faster and get us to a place where we’re student focused.”
KSC President Melinda Treadwell said it will be helpful to gain an outside perspective on the college’s operations.
“It’s important to have help from a firm that works with a lot of colleges to help us compare how we work with other institutions in the country so that we can become more effective, more successful, but not lose who we are,” Treadwell said. “Sometimes you get into your work or your flow and it’s very hard to rethink doing something. It’s helpful to have someone else look at it and say, ‘Why do you do it that way?’ and then help us find ways to be increasingly focused on our students, not on a process that isn’t helpful.”
Rachel Vitello can be contacted at