Faculty Senate Discussion

RCM Manual and RCM Generally

Filed under RCM Impacts 2010-11 by ttravis@ufl.edu on March 18, 2011 | No Comments

The “RCM Manual” is now available: http://www.cfo.ufl.edu/.  This is a useful document explaining what can seem like a very convoluted system for resource allocation.  However, on page one “FTE” is defined as “Full time equivalent. FTE is defined as the teaching of 40 credit hours at the undergraduate level or 32 credit hours at the graduate level for a fiscal year.”  Given that the average undergraduate class in the college of liberal arts is 3 credit hours, this suggests that for a faculty member to be considered “one FTE,” s/he would need to teach 11.33 classes per fiscal year.  I queried Mr. Fajack about this when the posting of the manual was announced last week, and he admitted this was an error that should be changed.  As of today, however, it is still in the text.

On that matter of RCM generally, I concur with most of the comments already posted here.  RCM is a way of imposing a budgeting schema on a large, diverse, and unwieldy institution.  There are positive aspects to it as well as negative externalities, and what is most troubling about it is that the latter seem not to have been addressed or even noticed by senior administrators.  I worked for awhile in the retail food sector, which is similar to the university in that it has high labor costs and deals in a range of very different–and differently priced–commodities.  This background prompts me to point out some key problems with RCM.

It does not take into account the university’s segmented market (products in the law school and CLAS are priced differently, but RCM assumes that consumers in both units are similarly motivated and that products can be marketed to them in the same ways); mechanisms for quality control across the corporation (as opposed to in discrete silos) are weak; and management’s position on loss leaders (for instance, Liberal Arts programs and classes not directly remunerative but necessary to UF’s standing in the US News rankings and the AAU) is incoherent.  Failure to address these issues clearly and consistently can adversely affect the brand.

If I understand it correctly, RCM is an accounting system.  As such, it needs to serve the university’s larger purpose of providing a high quality education to the citizens of the state.  As presently deployed, it does not seem to be doing this. Rather than being used to address established educational and research priorities, it is being allowed to set them.  We are early in the implementation of this system, and the very process of establishing it has been complex.  Now that that phase is complete, I hope the administration will devote time and energy to making accounting serve the larger goal of education.

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