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Campus Conversation: The President's Operational Excellence Initiative

Yakin Ouederni
May 3, 2020

Last Thursday’s Virtual Campus Conversation introduced the Presidential Operational Excellence Initiative, which establishes seven committees spanning different areas. 

President Francis Ricciardone started the session detailing the purpose of the committees, stating that they are meant to better help address the different needs of AUC community members and to give students, faculty and staff ways to directly express their concerns and needs. 

Before introducing each committee, Ricciardone mentioned the hope of returning to campus for the fall semester and how AUC will come out stronger from this pandemic, with new online capabilities and a new standard for health and hygiene.

The Committees

Fiscal Governance, chaired by Amir Habib, associate vice president for finance and chief financial officer

This committee will oversee the ways in which the University can maximize revenue and optimize utilizing financial resources, including discussions with stakeholders, updating policies and procedures, strengthening controls on procurement and more. 

Human Resources, chaired by Sarah Refaat, senior associate vice president for human resources

This committee will work with managers and supervisors across campus to deal with different hiring and professional development in AUC’s offices. The committee will also plan out the next steps of facilitating remote work. 

North America and Fundraising, chaired by Bruce Flessner, vice president for advancement and Americas

This committee’s primary focus will be finding new opportunities that arise during this time and developing the University’s strategic plan of internationalization. 

Academic Mission, chaired by Provost Ehab Abdel-Rahman

The objective of this committee is to be responsible for all matters concerning academics, including reorientation and training for returning to campus, preparing for Summer and Fall 2020 and preparing for the different possibilities when it comes to the decision to remain online or resume face-to-face instruction.  

Student Services, chaired by Deena Boraie, vice president for student life 

This committee’s main focus will be on how to do things differently when it comes to student living. It will focus on healthy living, re-examine how athletics are managed, think back on how the emergency was handled and enhance the international student experience. 

Management and Operations, chaired by Sherine Shaker, vice president for management and operations

The objective of this committee is to achieve excellence in operations and services, facilities and maintenance. Committee members will look at how to utilize space in an optimum way, retraining staff and using this time to upscale and raise the bar with hygiene. The second objective will be to take a look at the different projects going on and identify which ones need to stop, be delayed or to continue. The third objective is to focus on public health around campus.

Digital Optimization, chaired by Ayman Abdellatif, vice president for digital transformation

This committee will work to accelerate digital transformation, build resilience into AUC’s systems, increase accessibility and more.

Main Points from Q&A

  • The campus planning initiative has not paused. Despite budget cuts, AUC is still working with Beyer Blinder Belle to develop the master plan for phase two of the campus.
  • An in-person June commencement will not be possible. Students have expressed that they would prefer commencement is postponed to the fall, and the University is currently working on that scenario. 
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has had a great negative effect on AUC’s endowment and budget for the next fiscal year. There will be areas where the University will be cutting costs, such as reducing some positions and freezing raises and bonuses. However, the minimum wage will still be raised.