History of SUMAR

In the spring of 2009, Princeton University’s provost, executive vice president, vice president for finance and treasurer, vice president for human resources, and members of their staffs came together as the Cost Savings Working Group (CSWG) to monitor the effects of the financial crisis, prepare for its impact on the University budget, and to review and pre-approve for the Priorities Committee and Board of Trustees the departmental and central budget reduction plans to meet the University’s $170 million budget savings goal. 

Addressing cost-savings goals focused the University on the ways it does business and resulted in a number of areas actually growing stronger from the budget-cutting exercise. Consequently, instead of disbanding the CSWG following the attainment of the $170 million goal, the same group of individuals has continued to meet regularly to support initiatives that will Strengthen University Management and Resources (SUMAR).

SUMAR identifies and facilitates projects that lower operating costs and enhance management practices to enable the release of resources toward teaching, research, and the student experience. To date, SUMAR has tracked over 75 projects with potential recurring annual savings of approximately $18.7 million. Many of these campus-wide initiatives were born from suggestions received from units across the University. SUMAR continues to solicit ideas from the University community and provides periodic updates on successful projects through this website and at AAMG presentations in order to encourage and support the entrepreneurial spirit that strengthens our institution.

A few examples of recent and ongoing representative SUMAR projects:

Energy and Utility Savings
Efforts continue toward the long term goal of decreasing the University’s utility budget by lowering consumption by approximately 1/3 of a 2008 baseline. An additional goal is the reduction of heating and cooling consumption on campus to meet Sustainability Plan objectives. Examples of progress toward the goal through FY16 include:

  • Installation of high-efficiency LED lighting and motion sensors throughout campus. Approximately 4.5 of the planned 7 million square feet is complete, with the remaining square footage to be completed over the next 14 months
  • Integrated Occupancy Sensors for lighting into HVAC control in East Pyne/Chancellor Green, Schultz and other locations on campus. These sensors reduce air conditioning to offices unoccupied during the summer months
  • Automated HVAC control systems optimization software installed in a total of 68 buildings. This software monitors system problems for necessary repairs
  • Upgraded controls and lighting in Carl Icahn Labs. Lewis Thomas and Bowen controls upgrades are in design now, to be completed over the next 12 months
  • Projects completed in the central plant including the installation of new burner controls, heat exchanger to use wintertime air to cool water, and new controls on the large natural gas compressor. Over the coming year, they will be completing the remaining plant energy conservation projects

Medical Leave Management
A medical leave manager has been in place since September 2015 and has monitored 50-60 absences per day over the course of the year. The position has simplified the experience for managers and employees, provided consistent experiences and messaging, and reduced some costs while increasing efficiencies. Adherence to leave processes has not increased the burden to confirmed patients, and has resulted in earlier return to work dates (some with light duty). Because accommodations are trending towards technological interventions (e.g., speech to text conversion, auditory processing) and not physical (e.g., ramps or elevator usage), no increased cost is expected as a result of these earlier return dates.

Procurement Initiatives
Since meeting initial annual savings targets in 2014, Procurement Services continues to transition from a transaction focused organization to providing more comprehensive and strategic support for the University’s procurement needs. Recent initiatives have generated approximately $1.2M in savings between FY15 and FY16. They include:

  • University Copier Program: Replacement of over 200 campus photocopiers with new energy-efficient, smaller-footprint, multifunctional devices providing copy, print, scan, and fax capabilities that reduce the cost per print by 40%
  • University Travel Program: Program savings have been achieved through negotiated air and hotel travel agreements, additional credit card rebates, and services provided by the University’s travel management company, such as increasing the number of unused airline tickets that were reissued
  • Temporary Staffing: In advance of a competitive bid planned for early 2017, renegotiations with two staffing providers have reduced the markups for several positions without impacting the wages paid to the workers
  • Individual Department Support: Provision of sourcing support on a variety of department initiatives including website development, musical instrument purchases, dry ice, and vehicle acquisitions/dispositions that resulted in departmental savings