Miami University named 2nd most efficient schools in nation

OXFORD, Ohio -- Miami University of Ohio is one of the most efficient schools in the country.

The school in Oxford, Ohio, was ranked the second most efficient school among national universities, according to U.S. News & World Report , a recognized leader in college, grad school, hospital, mutual fund and car rankings.

In a ranking out Dec. 19 , editors at U.S. News listed Miami (OH) as one of the best when it comes to being "able to produce the highest educational quality, as determined by their place in the 2014 Best Colleges rankings, but spend relatively less on educational programs to achieve that quality."

Florida State was the top-ranked school on the list.

U.S. News measured schools' financial resources by considering how much they spend per student on instruction, research, student services and related educational expenditures. 

The publication defines operating efficiency for this list as a school's 2012 fiscal year financial resources per student divided by its overall score – the basis U.S. News uses to determine its overall numerical rank – in the 2014 Best Colleges rankings.

The people behind the survey said the calculation "reveals how much each school is spending to achieve one point in the overall score and its position in the rankings."

Using the magazine's formula, the university's spending per student for each point in the U.S. News overall score was $374.64, according to information from Miami University.

By comparison, Florida State came in at $355.32.

Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., came in at No. 7 at $446.60. Ohio University in Athens, Ohio was ranked ninth at $475.61.

Among endeavors to keep Miami's high quality education affordable is the school's use of what university officials call "Lean methodology."

Piloted in 2008, Miami's "Lean" in-house continuous improvement process has included training of 1,313 employees across campuses, according to a note on the university's website . They say they goal of the initiative is to "increase efficiencies while maintaining an exemplary experience for students."

“(Lean) has to do with training people in their own work areas to be aware of the processes they take part in on a daily basis," said Claire Wagner, Miami's director of university news and communications. "It asks employees to ask themselves, 'How can I be more efficient?'”

One example Wagner gave is the university officials’ decision to add devices to the 95 vehicles used by employees of Miami Physical Facilities Department. The devices are designed to shut off an idling engine after three minutes.

Wagner said the university estimated that most vehicles idled for up to 10 minutes at a time, costing the university upwards of $16,000 a year. The new devices cut that expected cost by 2/3, Wagner said.

The processes save the university about $15 million a year in additional revenues or cost reductions and avoidance, reduced operating time in about 50 percent of projects and found greener solutions in more than 40 percent of projects.

Staff and faculty have completed 188 projects, largely in the areas of physical facilities, housing and dining and other business services, according to the Miami website. The university is actively working on 92 other projects.

Wagner said the cost-saving measures reflect back on the students. While the cost of tuition might go up in a given year, the initiatives help to keep tuition as low as possible, she said, with the goal of exceeding no more than a 2 percent tuition increase in a given year.

In June, the Miami University trustees voted to raise tuition across the board for the 2013-2014 school year. They also voted to give raises to faculty and staff.

Tuition for undergraduate and graduate students were raised by 1.5 percent. The price went up 2.3 percent for lower division students at the regional campuses and 2 percent for upper division regional students.

Last year, the first time U.S. News reported on efficiency among its ranked universities, Miami was listed as third most efficient among national schools.

In order to appear on the list, schools had to be numerically ranked in the top half of their U.S. News ranking category in the Best Colleges 2014 rankings. 

Miami ranked 75th among all public and private national universities listed as Best Colleges by U.S. News, and 31st among public national universities.

It ranked third in the U.S. for its commitment to teaching.

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