Delta About to Begin Work on Specific Projects

By Michael Seele
Chronicle Editor

With the organization of Project Delta nearly complete, the effort to reinvent the way the University does its business is about to get down to the brass tacks.

Vice President for Human Resources Leo V. Sullivan, a member of Project Delta's executive committee, said the University has hired Andersen Consulting to guide the project's methodology and that Delta's committees will begin work on specific projects by June.

While the consultants will provide "guidance and assistance in developing the game plan," he said, members of the Boston College community will be doing the work and making the decisions as the effort progresses.


Vice President for Human Resources Leo V. Sullivan-Support staff at Boston College "have the ability, and the desire, to take on more and Project Delta will give them more autonomy. Conversely, administrators don't need the kind of support they needed just a short time ago; they will be doing more themselves." (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)






Sullivan said the executive committee has formed some ideas about how the University might achieve increased productivity and reduced costs in the long term, but that no specific numerical goals have been established yet. With Project Delta's objectives expected to come into focus in the coming weeks, Sullivan is aggressively seeking input from Boston College employees.

Sullivan and Executive Vice President Frank B. Campanella, another member of the executive committee, have been holding an ongoing series of meetings with groups of employees to offer information about Project Delta and solicit feedback. By mid-summer, every employee will have had the opportunity to meet with Project Delta leaders in such a forum.

"One of the first questions we hear from these groups is, 'How do we get involved?'" Sullivan said. "I have not encountered any negative reaction at all after we have these discussions. People see Project Delta as tremendously positive for them and for the University, and they want to be part of the process. They also clearly have trust in the executive leadership of this institution. It's been really heartening to get this kind of response."

Applying new and emerging technology to the work of administrators and support staff will be a central element in the customer-oriented approach Boston College will take as Project Delta develops.

Support staff in particular will benefit, he added, by gaining challenging new responsibilities while leaving many traditional secretarial functions to voice mail, electronic mail and other technology.

"The education and qualifications of the overwhelming majority of support staff at Boston College is outstanding," Sullivan said. "They have the ability, and the desire, to take on more and Project Delta will give them more autonomy. Conversely, administrators don't need the kind of support they needed just a short time ago; they will be doing more themselves."

As productivity increases, he said, the need for personnel will diminish in some areas. Sullivan noted that the University employs nearly double the number of administrators and support staff it did 20 years ago, and that trend will need to reverse if the University is to remain competitive.

"In the final analysis, there will be fewer people working here," he said, adding that a specific number of future employees has not been established. "However, Boston College is dealing from a position of strength and the types of drastic cuts we've seen at some other universities will not be happening here. Reductions will be achieved in concert with Boston College's ideals and its culture."

Noting that between 200 and 250 employees resign from the administrative and operational side of the University every year, Sullivan said, "One of the first things we will do in the near future is look at every slot that opens up with the possibility of freezing some slots and employing a prudent use of attrition.

"There are also people who have indicated they don't want to work in the summertime, and we can look at a scheduling system for some people that revolves around the academic year."

Sullivan also has suggested a voluntary early retirement program, which already has drawn a number of inquiries, and he expects an early retirement incentive plan to emerge from Project Delta.

For employees displaced when an area is reduced, Sullivan said the University has an "inherent responsibility" to provide retraining and attempt to transfer them to other departments.

"Right now, we're certainly hoping we can achieve any changes that will take place through attrition, early retirements, and retraining and transfers. Layoffs would be a last resort and we hope to avoid that."

As Project Delta progresses, Sullivan said, Boston College will develop a flatter, less hierarchical organizational structure. New compensation methods focusing on the contributions individual employees make to their departments will be put into place. As a result, he added, "department heads and managers will have more responsibility and employees will have more opportunity."

Sullivan stressed that now is a critical time for employee involvement in Project Delta.

"We really need to have all of the people here in a position where they know everything that's going on and feel as positive about the project as we do. Whatever systems and procedures we need to put in place to be sure comprehensive communication takes place we will do."

Questions or suggestions may be directed to Project Delta Manager James Kreinbring at ext. 8022, or via e-mail to project.delta@bc.edu.

In addition to Sullivan and Campanella, the Project Delta executive committee includes Financial Vice President and Treasurer Peter C. McKenzie and Executive Director of Information Technology Bernard Gleason Jr.

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