Greetings Campus Community,
Happy Friday! My name is Craig Knutson and I hold the position of Chief of Staff/Office of the President. The position description for Chief of Staff reads, in part, "serve as strategic advisor to the President, Provost and members of the Cabinet; provide strategic leadership in the area of community and external relations; serve as chief university official in the absence of the President and Provost." Among the 15 stated Duties and Responsibilities, three are germane to this brief summary of my role at Oklahoma City University. First, "develop and lead critical projects from the Office of the President." Second, "responsible for all budgetary and financial planning in support of the President's Office, including all expense management, budgeting, and project/special initiative funding." Third, and probably most important, is to "perform other duties as needed in support of the President!!"
Since arriving in January 2011, I have gone from a strictly advisory role to managing the university's Communications and Marketing Department, and most recently, our Facilities Department. While the former will return to the University Advancement VP upon the arrival of Marty O'Gwynn, the key elements of my position description, and duties and responsibilities remain.
My 35+ years of private and public sector experiences prior to arriving at OCU have served me and, I believe the University, well. Most of those years involved serving/representing the various companies/organizations in a community development and external relations capacity. I have served on over 20 not-for-profit organizations, most in key leadership roles. I bring those business and social networks to the University, assisting the President as he represents the university with the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, the Oklahoma Business Roundtable, and many other external organizations that strengthen our ties to the community we call Oklahoma City, and our state.
Internally, I have, through my oversight of Communications and Marketing, been integrally involved in the Web Usability Review effort, which continues until all college content has been migrated to the new template/format. I have also played a key leadership position in our rebranding efforts, from the SimpsonScarborough rebranding research to the creative efforts of Pentagram Design. We also developed the "3Rs" theme, focusing our scarce resources on recruitment, retention, and resource development.
But perhaps the most critical responsibility I have is in the budgetary and financial planning area. Given the challenging economic conditions nationally and the recent enrollment trends here at OCU, the President has asked that greater time and talent be dedicated to addressing this topic. Working closely with the Provost, CFO and the FSEC, I have and will continue to play a strong leadership role in the development of a budget that best meets the needs of the strategic goals of the university. From our most recent NCA/HLC visit we know that our accreditors expect our strategic planning process to be the primary driver of future development, not our budgetary process.
Because the budget expresses how resources will be allocated and what measures will be used to evaluate progress, budget development is more effective when linked to an overall strategic plan. I represent the President's Office as an active member of both efforts. In fact, the university, based upon the recommendations of the NCA/HLC, has ensured that about half the representation on the strategic planning committee also serves on the budget committee, providing the expertise and redundancy to strengthen both efforts. In addition, the Provost has increased the number of scheduled strategic planning meetings to ensure that the strategic initiatives of the university lead the way.
This year's budgeting process will be difficult. While the overall enrollment numbers are down, the university, in a very planful way, has reduced the amount of discount by almost $1 million dollars and our overall retention rate is back over 80%. Our new Enrollment VP has designed a very strategic and targeted approach to increase enrollment in the years ahead and the Deans have been proactively implementing enrollment-enhancing strategies as well. As they say, "it takes a village." Our new CFO and General Counsel have helped spearhead efforts to reduce operational expenses through more rigorous P-card policies/procedures and a competitive bidding process for our healthcare benefits. Strong, sound actions to address both the revenue and expense sides of the ledger have been implemented. As an active participant in many of these efforts, I am quite bullish about our financial future.
I look forward to serving the students, faculty, staff and Trustees of this great institution and vow to remain as accessible and collaborative as possible.
Chief of Staff