AASCU Innovations Exchange
Your Source for Innovations in Public Higher Education

UMS logo
Project Title:University of Maine System Strategic Investment Fund (SIF)Institution Name:University of Maine System Innovation Category:Innovative Policies and Practices Project Director:Rebecca Wyke, Vice Chancellor for Finance and AdministrationContact Information:(207) 974-3343 , wyke@maine.eduWebsite:http://www.maine.edu/UMSSIF
Project Description:The Strategic Investment Fund (SIF) was created in 2010 as part of the System’s “New Challenges, New Directions” (NCND) strategic initiative. This revolving pool of Education & General (E&G) University funds provides a new and creative way for campus leaders to propose innovative projects for consideration and an opportunity to obtain funds to invest in ideas and programs that campuses otherwise would not be able to do. The fund is intended to expand investment, not finance current ways of doing business.  A clear set of SIF purposes and priorities was established to create parameters to those proposing projects, for example, projects must address NCND goals and outcomes. In FY11, the fund was at 1% of State appropriation ($1.76M); it is currently at 2% in FY12 ($3.52M); in FY13 it will rise to 3% ($5.28M), and beyond that it is slated to be $5.28M (or 3% of State appropriation, whichever is greater). 
Objectives:
  • Enhance the quality and organizational effectiveness of teaching, the student experience, research and scholarship, and community outreach; 
  • Support curricular developments which align programs more strategically with the changing economy and workforce needs of Maine; 
  • Increase graduation rates; 
  • Create opportunities for teaching, learning, research, scholarship, professional development, or service, that foster improved academic rigor, effectiveness, accountability, and/or innovation; 
  • Foster changes in administrative and managerial practices that are designed to improve the delivery of support services more efficiently and at higher levels of quality and sophistication; 
  • Model collaboration, accountability, scalability, and close attention to analysis of resulting data; 
  • Apply technology and technological strategies that bring greater efficiency and effectiveness to academic and administrative work.  
Outcomes:A key requirement of the SIF proposals was a return on investment (ROI) analysis for each project that was proposed.  The project proposal must outline the proposed SIF investment for the next three fiscal years; include the campus investment in the project; and outline how many years it would take to achieve the ROI.   
Challenges/Problems Encountered:Since this was an entirely new concept to our university system, one challenge at the onset was some reluctance on the part of our seven university presidents.  They were being asked to reduce their current costs in order to free up a percentage of funds to create the strategic investment fund—during difficult economic times along with declining State funding and enrollment challenges. In the end, each of our presidents was successful in competing for the funds and the SIF has enabled them to invest in new innovative programs that they otherwise may not have been able to undertake.  
Evaluation Approach:Presidents submit proposals on behalf of their universities to the chancellor.  The proposals include a project budget and detailed business plan.  System-wide proposals are initiated by the chancellor. For the first two fiscal years of the SIF program, proposals were reviewed and ranked simultaneously by the university system’s chief academic officers, chief financial officers, and chief student affairs officers. Each group forwarded rankings, comments, and analysis to the chancellor and the presidents, who, in turn, review the proposals and the advisory input. The UMS presidents’ council drafts recommendations. The final list is the responsibility of the chancellor, who also presents the final awards to the trustees. For FY2012, a consensus among all review parties advocated to make the review process less cumbersome.  Beginning this year, a single review team will evaluate the proposals.  This cross-functional team of approximately ten individuals includes people representing the academic, financial, and student affairs functions—and the team includes a representative from each of our seven campuses.  This team will send their final project selections to the presidents’ council and chancellor for final review and comment.  The chancellor presents the final awards to trustees.  
Potential for Replication:There are no special factors for creating such a fund and it may be easily replicated if an institution or system has leadership with the capacity to implement it. If a university system governing board or a president of a single institution allocated the funds, the universities in the system or the departments within one institution may propose projects/initiatives to compete for strategic investment funding.
Additional Resources: FY2011 SIF report to UMS Trustees: http://www.maine.edu/pdf/SIFFY11ReporttoBOT.pdf 
CEO-to-CEO Contact:Richard L. Pattenaude , Chancellorpattenaude@maine.edu
(207) 973-3205
Date Published: Monday, November 14, 2011