What We’re Doing

Although the efficiency initiative is a long-term focus at Washington University in St. Louis, we are making steady progress. Milestones are being achieved across our campuses every day.

University to end long distance charges for the Danforth Campus, SAVE Committee issues reports

June 13, 2016

Since the summer of 2015, the SAVE Committee of Washington University has been working to examine efficiency ideas submitted by fellow faculty and staff.

The effort is ongoing, but the university is moving forward on an idea submitted early on in the process — that departments and schools could see budgetary savings if the Danforth Campus no longer charged for domestic long distance.

Beginning fiscal year 2017, that’s exactly what is going to happen. The university will no longer charge Danforth Campus schools and departments for domestic long distance calls, offering savings for individual departments and reducing the university’s administrative costs related to long distance billing.

As part of this new plan, individuals will no longer need to use authorization codes when making domestic long distance calls. International calls will still need an authorization code.

While individual Danforth campus departments and schools will no longer bear domestic long distance charges, the university will continue paying these fees, and therefore will closely monitor long distance usage across the Danforth Campus.

This billing change will be made by WashU Information Technology in advance of the university’s telecommunications update to a Voice Over IP (VoIP) system — scheduled to be completed across all Danforth campuses within in the next three years.

For more information, call Telecommunication Services at 5-5005 or send an email to telecom@wustl.edu. Additional communications will be sent to Danforth Campus Telecom liaisons and business managers.

Other Ideas

The SAVE Committee has completed four additional reports. They are:


Update the lighting over the seats in Edison Theatre with more efficient fixtures. Submitted by Jason Irons, Edison Theatre Technical Director and Master Electrician

SAVE members: Mark Bagby, Kari Bellon, Catherine Determan, Jill Fechtman


  • The current house lights at Edison Theatre use 30,000 kWh of energy each year.  By re-lamping to a more energy efficient fixture, the energy usage would drop to 4,800 kWh. The newer, more energy efficient fixtures would require less maintenance, so cost savings would be achieved through a reduction in labor costs and installing fewer replacement bulbs. The SAVE team recommends moving forward with this project.
  • Facilities is planning to review the project for FY18 funding. The hope is that the financial outlook will improve as the cost of LED lighting continues to fall.

Read the full Edison Theatre Lighting Project report (PDF)


Reduce number of desk phones by offering employees a subsidy for using a personal cell phone.  Submitted by Steve Moore, assistant professor of radiology.

SAVE members: Rachel Driskell, Lois Lebert, Shawn Miller, Rachel Reinagel


  • After meeting with telecommunications, business operations and tax experts at the Danforth and School of Medicine campuses, the SAVE team recommends that the university maintain the current structure utilized in providing employees with desk phones.
    • Administrative time and costs associated with subsidizing employee cell phones greatly outweighs the costs of continuing with the current phone line pricing structure.
    • The current system ensures accuracy of the WU Directory which is necessary for efficient daily operations and vital to emergency preparedness.
  • The SAVE team offers some related recommendations for departments and schools:
    • Conduct periodic phone audits within each department to ensure all phone lines are utilized and necessary.
    • Complete quarterly billing audits to ensure all charges are appropriate.
    • Before disconnecting phone lines consider the fees associated with the service. If a position/desk is vacant for 3 months the cost to disconnect and reconnect the line will be $150, which is more than keeping the line active at $30 – $35 a month.

Read the full Laboratory Phones report (PDF)


Create a wallet-sized card that will allow university employees to have tax exempt numbers easily on hand when making purchases. Submitted by Jeff Stiles in the Athletics department.

SAVE members: Amanda Diefenbach, Jan Schade, Kathleen Schasch


  • Due to the uniqueness of each state’s tax exemption proof requirements and the limited population of university individuals purchasing goods and services in other states, it is the SAVE team’s recommendation that the university not produce wallet size cards.
  • The SAVE team recommends that university employees review sales and use taxes information at tax.wustl.edu

Read the full Tax Exempt Card report (PDF)


Instead of reprinting hangtag parking passes every couple of years, add a colored sticker to the pass which validates the hang tag for the next couple years. Submitted by Rebecca O’Brien, Executive Assistant in the Office of the Chancellor

SAVE members: Steven Harowitz, Gerry Kohring, Jenny Kunza, Kellie Mandry


  • After reviewing the parking pass policies and costs on the Danforth and School of Medicine campuses, the SAVE team found that there is not at present a cost savings to unifying the parking programs or making modifications to the existing parking renewal programs.
  • University parking leadership has audited the renewal program to order the minimum number of tags and has been working with Metro to make sure the university is not overpaying for the passes offered by the university.
  • New technologies for parking tracking that may offer savings will be evaluated with the planning for the new parking garage on the east end of the Danforth Campus.

Read the full Parking Hang Tags report (PDF)

The SAVE Committee will continue to meet and consider ideas.

SAVE Committee member Ashley Gilkey shares, “I have thoroughly enjoyed working on the committee, meeting other colleagues and contributing to the efforts towards making our campus the most efficient as possible.” Gilkey is a diversity-in-retention coordinator in Student Affairs.

Efficiency idea submitter Debra Adask in Treasury Services agrees, “It’s nice to know that my suggestion is being considered.”

New STL-based office supplier offers significant cost savings

January 25, 2016

Washington University has selected St. Louis-based Office Essentials as its new contracted vendor for office supplies. Office Essentials will begin accepting WashU orders on February 1.

“Every department at the university can realize substantial cost savings with Office Essentials,” says Alan Kuebler, associate vice chancellor for Resource Management.

“We estimate that overall savings to the university will be $500,000 dollars per year. Plus, the Office Essentials product catalogue is more robust and flexible than that of our most recent supplier.”

Departments will be able to order Office Essentials supplies through the WUSTL Marketplace. The transition to Office Essentials should be seamless as the ordering process is very similar to the process we’ve been using to order from our most recent supplier.

Founded in 2001, Office Essentials is the largest independent office supplies dealer in the region with 26 delivery trucks and more than 3,000 customers.

For more information about Office Essentials or the new agreement, contact Resource Management’s Bob Weinstein at 314-935-4298; or at Bob_Weinstein@wustl.edu.

Webber Presents Efficiency Initiative Outcomes report

December 8, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to report the successful outcome of Washington University’s Efficiency Initiative. We have identified $20 million in ongoing annual operational savings. These funds will be reinvested in our mission of teaching, research and patient care.

These savings provide benefits to schools and departments across the university without impacting the quality of core administrative services. For example:

  • Because of increased efficiencies in our facilities department, the facilities-related charges per square foot on the Danforth Campus will not increase until at least FY2019.
  • The administration has reduced total annual increases in central administrative charges to the schools to four percent. Increases will remain at 4 percent for the foreseeable future.
  • Lower purchase prices for many products also will directly benefit each department’s bottom line.

Additional details about our process and achievements can be found in the Efficiency Initiative report (PDF).

In the coming months, we will be bringing an end to this initiative by completing the implementation of the remaining efficiency-related projects, which may result in additional cost savings. Going forward, the SAVE Committee will continue to evaluate efficiency recommendations submitted by many of our community members.

The goal of the university’s administration should be to operate as efficiently as possible, while maintaining or improving our institutional performance. I feel confident that the Efficiency Initiative has made us a more efficient and better-run university. I want to thank everyone who contributed to this success through their time, effort and willingness to critically examine our operations.

Henry S. Webber
Executive Vice Chancellor for Administration

Quick look at procurement savings

June 11, 2015

Since the beginning of the university’s efficiency efforts, Resource Management has negotiated contracts that achieve $12.7 million in savings. This efficiency success allows the university to invest more resources in the overall mission of teaching, research and patient care. The graphic below illustrates examples of some of the savings the university has realized with its suppliers.
Highlights of Supplier Procurement Savings

Leaders discuss progress, next steps

March 6, 2015

Webber presents update on efficiency efforts

February 17, 2015

Hank Webber, executive vice chancellor for administration, presented an update (PPT) on the university’s efficiency efforts at a recent University Management Team meeting.

Meet the SAVE committee

January 8, 2015

Thirty staff and faculty members from across the university have been selected to serve on the Solutions for Achieving Value and Efficiency (SAVE) committee.

During the next year, SAVE committee teams will analyze a number of the efficiency ideas submitted by the university community. SAVE committee members will present their findings and recommendations to the SAVE Review Board and university leadership.

SAVE committee members are:

  • Sylvia Awadalla, MD, Professor of Neurology
  • Mark Bagby, Director of Emergency Management
  • Esther Barker, Financial Accounting Assistant in Radiation Oncology
  • Eddrick Bedford, Tech Support Analyst II in Surgery
  • William Behr, Associate Director of the Weston Career Center
  • Kari Bellon, Events and Communications Coordinator at the School of Law
  • Stephanie Biermann, Stacks Management and Retrieval Supervisor at Olin Library
  • Marvin Cruz, Zone Manager of Maintenance Administration, Danforth Campus
  • Tyler De Shon, Residential Community Director in Residential Life
  • Catherine Determan, Funding Resource Coordinator in the Office of Sponsored Research Services
  • Amanda Diefenbach, Accounting Assistant in the Campus Card Office
  • Mary Ann Dill, Special Projects Manager in Facilities Planning & Management, Danforth Campus
  • Rachel Driskell, Special Program Administrator in Internal Medicine – Infectious Diseases
  • Jill Fechtman, Associate University Registrar
  • Vanessa Ferguson, Business Manager, Administration in Alumni & Development
  • Ashley Gilkey, Diversity in Retention Coordinator, Center for Advanced Learning
  • Steven Harowitz, Coordinator in Student Involvement & Leadership
  • Gerry Kohring, Chemistry Storeroom Manager in Arts & Sciences
  • Jenny Kunza, Institutional Conflict of Interest Compliance Manager
  • Lois Lebert, Director of Accounting Operations in Accounting Services
  • Kellie Mandry, Assistant Director for Facilities, Danforth University Center
  • Tina Miles, Director of Payroll Services
  • Shawn Miller, Assistant Director of Accounting & Financial Planning at University College
  • Gail Presswood, Director of Internal Audit
  • Rachel Reinagel, Campus Card Services Manager
  • Ellen Rostand, Assistant Vice Chancellor in Public Affairs
  • Janis Schade, Contract Administrator Custodial Services, Maintenance Administration, Danforth Campus
  • Kathleen Schasch, Director of University Accounting & Reporting
  • Joseph Steensma, Professor, Social Entrepreneurship and Public Health
  • Elizabeth Wolfson, Administrative Assistant in the Provost’s Office

“We’re looking forward to the different perspectives and experience the SAVE committee members bring to the table,” said Tara Bone, SAVE committee chair and special projects director in the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor for Administration.

“The university has received many efficiency ideas and the response to our call for SAVE committee applications was exceptional,” Bone said. “It’s great to see how engaged our community is in the university’s efficiency efforts.”

Learn more about the SAVE committee.

What we’re doing to reduce energy use and ways to be part of the effort

November 14, 2014

Even though Washington University in St. Louis has grown in its physical plant the last five years, its energy use has lowered. Melissa Hopkins, assistant vice chancellor for facilities at the School of Medicine, and Phil Valko, assistant vice chancellor for sustainability, discuss energy use reduction efforts at the university and what faculty, staff and students can do to reduce consumption even more.

Apply now: SAVE committee forming

October 15, 2014

Cross-campus teams to examine efficiency ideas

Ideas for improving efficiency at Washington University have come in from all corners of the university. Now, faculty and staff have an opportunity to consider how some of these ideas can be implemented by serving on the Solutions for Achieving Value and Efficiency (SAVE) committee.

Staff and faculty from all campuses are invited to apply for the SAVE committee. The committee will be selected by the end of December and committee meetings will begin in January.

To apply, please complete the following questionnaire and supervisor statement of support: SAVE committee application, Supervisor Statement (PDF). The deadline for the application and supervisor approval is Nov. 5.

The SAVE committee, which will serve for one year, will be broken into teams to analyze the feasibility of submitted efficiency ideas. The SAVE teams will:

  • Gather information regarding the team’s assigned efficiency idea.
  • Conduct interviews with resources across the university that can provide input or guidance on the efficiency idea.
  • Discuss and analyze findings and determine if the university could potentially implement the idea.
  • Present to the SAVE Review Board (and potentially university leadership) the team’s findings and recommendations on the assigned efficiency idea.

Committee members can expect to spend an average of one to three hours a week on SAVE work.

“Participating in the SAVE committee gives interested faculty and staff a way to bring their important day-to-day expertise to the administration of the university,” says Tara Bone, SAVE committee chair and special projects director in the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor for Administration.

“This is an opportunity for employees to have an impact on the university’s future,” Bone says. “Plus, it will be a great way to connect and collaborate with colleagues from across all campuses.”

Keep the great ideas coming

August 15, 2014

Since the beginning of the university-wide efficiency efforts in April, the university has received more than 120 ideas for improving efficiency on campus.

The ideas, both large and small, are making a positive difference. An example:

At the prompting of a faculty member, the university is exploring the need for broader campus software licenses and will enhance communication of existing software license availability. For example, Mathworks recently updated our MATLAB license to include the ability to be run in a high-performance computing cluster environment.

“Thanks to this suggestion, we are looking at demand for software across campus to see where expanding a software license could lead to reducing costs for units across the university,” said John Gohsman, vice chancellor for information technology and chief information officer. To learn more about university software licenses, view the Software Catalog on the Software Licensing website or email Wu_SoftwareLicensing@wumail.wustl.edu with any questions or suggestions.

In addition, submitted ideas will help drive a portion of the work being led by the university’s cross-campus Energy and Building Committee. Many of these ideas relate to ways we can be more mindful of energy usage in our buildings—reducing cost, lowering environmental impact and being better stewards of our resources.

“We’ve received great ideas from all over the university that reflect the creativity, dedication and diligence of our employees,” said Hank Webber, executive vice chancellor for administration. “Keep sharing your thoughts on how we can improve efficiency on our campuses.”

Next steps include offering faculty and staff an opportunity to work on putting some of the efficiency ideas into action.