Suggestion Box Summary

Submissions Received as of 03/13/18 (PDF)

  • Over 300 suggestions/comments have been submitted to date
  • Ideas and suggestions that are addressed in the review questionnaires are not part of this summary
  • All suggestions will be directed to the appropriate office to be considered as part of their questionnaire response process
  • Items added since last update are bolded


  1. consider increasing enrollment to 3,100 – 3,200 level from several years ago
  2. certificate programs?
  3. evening/weekend programs for non-traditional age population
  4. summer courses: online, non-degree?
  5. evaluate including textbook cost as part of comprehensive fee revenue to increase bookstore revenues
  6. consider a 3-year degree program
  7. can we improve transfer policies to attract more students
  8. consider increasing the number of course collaborations with Carleton or aligning the two academic calendars to facilitate collaboration
  9. enhance experiential learning by offering $2,000 towards study abroad, internship or research funding
  10. consider a gap year or gap semester to leverage international study experiences
  11. reconsider majors to serve 21st century student body
  12. consider number of off-campus study programs in light of faculty/IOS resources
  13. consider shifting away from 100% need blind admissions
  14. consider requiring few 2xx courses and offer larger capacity 3xx classes where practical and stagger paper due dates or substitute more multiple choice exams
  15. consider new programs: physician assistant, physical therapy, occupational therapy, business, engineering concentration, international relations, graduate teaching  licensure/MA in Teaching, e.g. ESL, Math, English, Social Studies
  16. reallocate funds for St. Paul Chamber Orchestra performance to SPCO for coaching and co-performing with music students
  17. intentionally recruit students who less need to compensate for students who have greater need to insure that the student body will also be diverse economically and the overall tuition revenue yield would be improved.
  18. consider developing a distance learning program for college credit to Minnesota’s incarcerated population or members of the armed forces charging a fee to cover costs; will encourage development of online offerings that can be marketed to larger
  19. implement additional support mechanisms for international, first generation, and low-income students
  20. consider consolidating nursing, exercise science, and biology’s exported prehealth courses into a single Health Science
  21. consider 4-1-3 calendar; decrease the number of courses needed to graduate by 3, do something creative with the “3” – increase the “1” to five weeks
  22. consider partnering with community colleges to continue associate’s degree into a St. Olaf bachelor’s degree
  23. simplify and streamline the mechanism by which students access funding sources for internships, research, etc.
  24. multiple comments regarding continued support of specific academic programs


  1. conduct a utilization study of student computer labs to determine if # of labs and machines could be reduced
  2. explore a “go paperless campaign” to reduce paper and printing costs; electronic cards; St. Olaf Magazine
  3. eliminate individual office/department printers and utilize multi-function copier fleet on floor or multi-department arrangement; consolidate number of copiers in close proximity to one another in Rolvaag Library
  4. eliminate office phones and implement other voice technologies
  5. conduct an inventory of software purchases and eliminate redundancies
  6. identify existing technologies that could be leveraged to replace other things, example: digital signage replaced by mobile apps; R25 replaced by Google scheduler; CampusBird replaced by ArcGIS
  7. are there technology partnership opportunities to operate the bookstore, or certain functions of the bookstore, i.e. use for textbook operation
  8. evaluate CS Gold partnership with Carleton for efficiencies
  9. contract with local/cities based Mac & PC repair/support
  10. remove St. Olaf printer fleet and replace with MFCs
  11. establish minimum requirements for student computers that will be supported by IT
  12. consider lifetime email access for a fee to alumni (revenue generating)


  1. reduce the amount of food served at events and meetings; eliminate floral bouquets at events
  2. expand external events business (weddings, reunions, corporate conferences, etc.) to more fully utilize facilities during slow times; generates revenue from Bon App
  3. conduct a return on investment analysis of events to determine if all are necessary, or should be scaled back
  4. consider ROI of purchasing tables/chairs for events rather than renting – storage implications


  1. invest in modern residence halls to meet student needs and provide revenue opportunities for expanded camps/clinics
  2. invest in more renewable energy sources if return on investment is positive
  3. increase sustainable plantings to reduce the amount of green space that requires maintenance
  4. explore the opportunities to generate additional revenue with the use of College land, i.e. Ole Village, land leases, co-locating a child care/early childhood education/preschool facility, etc.
  5. consider motion sensor timers for lighting in areas not currently monitored
  6. consider consolidating similar functions that now occur in more than one building into a single building, example: student centers or multiple libraries
  7. centralize evening/weekend study areas to reduce having all buildings open into the evenings
  8. offer free or reduced room rate options in exchange for community workshops, lessons, performances, or other work assistance
  9. competitively bid contract work on large scale projects
  10. enforce parking regulations
  11. evaluate efficacy of facility work order charges to departments


  1. explore the possibility of creating, or participating in, a health insurance consortium
  2. explore flexibilities regarding flex time, summer hours, closing between Christmas and New Year
  3. consider employee health care cost based on a percentage of salary
  4. consider incentives for covered employees who can get health care coverage elsewhere
  5. compare St. Olaf’s benefit package against peer and aspirational organizations and recommend changes to current policies (Benefits Review Group)
  6. early, or mandatory, retirement options
  7. provide more robust parental leave policies
  8. consider funding HSA contributions on a monthly basis versus 2x year to save funding when employees leave before HSA contribution period has expired
  9. consider reciprocal rights for faculty/staff at Carleton rec center and pools
  10. incentivize education/training in relevant areas, including reimbursement for graduate programs
  11. consider performance based increases rather than across the board increases
  12. consider investing in a comprehensive wellness program


  1. There were many suggestions for individual positions to be examined for: restructuring within or across departments, combining positions, added value of positions, growth in staffing levels, use of temp agency, use of student work force, outsourcing, etc. The review questionnaires ask departments to address these items.
  2. consider reducing the number of sabbaticals granted each year
  3. reconsider IPAT funding
  4. identify level 100-courses within one’s department and over the summer reassign a 100-level substitute for the low enrollment course; the reassignment would benefit first-year students who would have another course offering to choose from in the fall (or possibly interim)
  5. more shared positions with Carleton
  6. voluntary furloughs; VP level voluntary pay reductions
  7. consider reducing number of consultants
  8. consider professional manager versus faculty assuming management responsibilities
  9. reconsider 8-5 business hours when students are not in session
  10. analyze ratio of supervisors to employees; ratio of faculty to staff; ratio of faculty to students and compare to peer institutions
  11. consider four-day work week for staff
  12. consider governance structure and number of faculty serving on Dean’s Council versus time in classroom
  13. empower faculty/staff to challenge the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality and embrace change
  14. consider staff-focused committee to improve communications across offices leading to increased efficiencies

Ice Arena

This facility is the only “brick and mortar” component of the $200M comprehensive campaign. As such, it is being funded with $6M of donor contributions, or 3% of the total campaign, and leveraged with St. Olaf capital funding that would have been invested in the facility regardless of whether or not an arena were constructed. The project is moving forward because to delay it will increase cost. We have been advised that construction materials predicted to increase three times the current cost by next spring because of demand in the Gulf Coast and Florida created by this fall’s hurricanes. Delaying this project would mean that capital funding for other projects in the queue be redirected to the ice arena. This project also provides revenue opportunities for student recruitment and camps/clinics.

Non-Program Specific Revenue Ideas

  1. consider micro campaigns for small projects (Kickstarter, Indeigogo, Patreon)
  2. generate advertising revenue through St. Olaf YouTube channel
  3. increase number of summer camp offerings
  4. seek external grant funding for staff development, develop and pilot curricula, or participate in regional/national conversations or projects


  1. respect the dignity and value that each individual brings to St. Olaf
  2. acknowledge and allow for time needed to complete multiple major initiatives occurring along simultaneous time lines; consider “carving out” time to focus on these initiatives
  3. provide more communication regarding College finances and the various components of the operating budget
  4. identify the difference between operating budget and capital budget – two different pools of funding
  5. identify how endowment earnings are used in budget
  6. identify existing budget review and accountability processes
  7. pay students bi-weekly instead of monthly
  8. consider sustainability team including faculty and staff leader empowered to transform sustainability ideas into action
  9. encourage administrative leadership to be more visible to student groups and engage more meaningfully
  10. engage alumni more effectively around identity