"The times demand that campus leaders look for new ways to save money," UW-Stout Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen said. "We are doing more than just discussing increased efficiency. We are following through on those discussions."
Sorensen said former UW-Eau Claire Interim Chancellor Gilles Bousquet was instrumental in pursuing collaborations among the regional institutions. Bousquet's tenure ended June 28 when James C. Schmidt took over as the new UW-Eau Claire chancellor.
The new printing arrangement began in June, with UW-Stout sending several printing projects to UW-Eau Claire, and is expected to be fully implemented by August.
"UW-Stout's Printing Services have always struggled financially," said Kim Schulte-Shoberg, UW-Stout assistant vice chancellor who oversees printing, "because we have a much smaller pool of customers, and yet the same level of capital investment and staffing is needed to accommodate the printing demands of the campus."
As digital printing capabilities became more sophisticated, UW-Stout's model became even less feasible, she said. "We found ourselves needing to invest in equipment and software upgrades to keep up with expectations. Given the pending expenses, as well as the retirement of a Printing Services staffer, the time was right to evaluate printing options."
A Printing Services Review Committee was established, which surveyed campus customers, compared services offered throughout the UW System and examined possible collaborations. The review included a financial analysis and external vendors, including UW-Eau Claire, which proved to be the best fit.
"This initiative is an example of how UW System campuses in western Wisconsin are finding ways to increase efficiencies while continuing to provide essential services to our faculty, staff and students. We continue to explore additional opportunities to collaborate and eliminate duplication where possible," said Dave Gessner, UW-Eau Claire vice chancellor for Administration and Finance.
Mark Reeves, director of Business Services at UW-Eau Claire, noted that UW-Stout, UW-Eau Claire, UW-River Falls and UW-La Crosse signed a memorandum of understanding in 2012 detailing principles that would guide collaborative efforts among the institutions.
"We currently have a list of 20-plus potentials areas that our collective campuses will be discussing over time, as to what might be the next project or area to pursue," Reeves said, adding that the planning meetings include business officers and information technology staff. "This is an excellent example of how our campus collaboration efforts are benefiting multiple campuses."
Phil Lyons, UW-Stout vice chancellor for Administrative and Student Life Services, said the decision to contract with UW-Eau Claire made sense from a number of perspectives."
UW-Eau Claire had just made significant investments, and we could realize cost saving by using their services," he said. "I think this is one of many successes that we will have in leveraging our regional strength through collaboration."
Schulte-Shoberg said the collaboration is expected to offer the following benefits:
• Improved print job turnaround from 24 to 48 hours
• Freeing campus space and a full-time-equivalent position
• Reduced job costs as volumes increase
UW-Stout departments will continue to submit print jobs to UW-Stout Printing Services, which then will send them electronically to UW-Eau Claire. The finished products will be returned via courier.