Organizational Excellence

Engage. Simplify. Enable the Mission

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Organizational Excellence?

Organizational Excellence (OE) is a formal program that enables the achievement of institutional strategic goals and priorities, and provides high-quality support for core mission activities. It's a deliberate approach to foster a culture of continuous improvement and enhance effectiveness and efficiency through resource alignment and optimization.

Why do we need OE?

While many areas across the University are pursuing excellence, this program provides a pan-institutional perspective and connectedness. As a result, the University can leverage synergies and enhance organizational capacity and quality across academic and administrative service areas. OE is about stewardship and alignment of resources — financial, facilities, technological, and human resources — to provide the very best academic opportunities for faculty, staff, and students.

Who is responsible for leading OE?

The overall direction for Organizational Excellence is set by the Executive Sponsors — Pat Hogan, EVP/COO; Tom Katsouleas, EVP/Provost; and Colette Sheehy, Senior VP for Operations. A governing body, the leadership council (comprised of faculty and administrators, and staff) partners with OE staff to plan and execute initiatives. For each project, faculty, staff, and students will be appointed to serve on project teams due to their expertise and/or perspective.

How is OE different from past improvement efforts?

UVA has never engaged in an effort with such a comprehensive scope, analytics, and engagement across the entire University. Through the strategic planning process, the greater University community has helped shape the effort by providing feedback through interviews, focus groups, surveys, and public forums.

Additionally, OE sponsored a comprehensive benchmarking study of University administrative services in 2013-14, which provided a more thorough understanding of current operations and areas for improvement. The service areas included:

  • Finance
  • HR
  • IT
  • Procurement
  • Research administration
  • Student services
  • Development (with external consultant)
  • Facilities management.

What other universities have formal improvement programs? How is UVA's program similar and/or different?

Many higher education institutions have some type of quality or excellence program, however, they vary in scope and structure. UVA's approach is distinctive because it blends elements of the various types of programs.

The UVA program was developed on the following guiding principles:

  1. Academic and administrative collaboration
  2. Data-driven and results-oriented
  3. An ongoing impact, not episodic

Several peer institutions have employed outside consultants to conduct large diagnostic studies to identify efficiency opportunities. These efforts have largely focused on cost-savings and yielded mixed results. UVA's program is focused on quality and efficiency, and due to our commitment to partner with the University community, we have elected to only engage consultants in a focused manner. 

How can I contribute?

The fundamental goals of OE apply to every area of the University. Everyone has an opportunity to contribute in their daily work by looking for ways to streamline processes, reduce duplication, eliminate non-value added activities, and simplify work.

Additionally, there are formal opportunities to support Organizational Excellence key initiatives by serving on project teams, helping collect and interpret data, and providing stakeholder feedback about services and processes. Other opportunities include participation in the Quality CORE Network and the Spotlight on Excellence peer recognition program.

What's the ideal outcome for the OE program? How will we know we have succeeded?

The primary reason the University has undertaken this initiative is to advance excellence in education, research and scholarship; optimize resources; and foster a culture of excellence. This work will yield measurable improvements in performance, quality, stakeholder satisfaction, and investments in institutional priorities. Organizational Excellence strives to give faculty and staff more time and resources to devote to core learning and research activities.