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A New Lease on Life

To increase efficiency and cut costs, Brown University carried out a full-scale reorganization of its Graphic Services department. After adding equipment, and cross-training staff, the Rhode Island in-plant is busier than ever.

November 2011
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In the summer of 2010, Leslie Rutledge moved from her position at San Diego State University, where she was manager of ReproGraphics, to head up the Graphic Services department at Brown University, in Providence, R.I.

"Prior to my arrival, the university had undergone a reorganization, which had to be completed by June 30th," Rutledge says. Targeting redundancy, the university was combining administrative services to achieve greater efficiencies.

"The decision was made to consolidate eight or nine graphic designers from different departments under the director of Graphic Services to create a centralized team to provide cost-effective, high-quality design," she says. "The print facility was left alone until my arrival."

When Rutledge came on board in August of 2010, she was charged with examining how best to reposition the 20-employee Graphic Services department to bring more value to the university.

"It was bigger than simply incorporating an art director and an additional graphic designer into the services," she recalls. "We needed to figure out who we wanted to be, how we would position ourselves, and how we could modernize and update the department to meet the university's current and future needs."

Rutledge says she had terrific support from her boss, Elizabeth Gentry, assistant vice president, Financial & Administrative Services, throughout the entire process.

"She has supported me a million percent," Rutledge lauds.

A Familiar Situation

Rutledge had faced a similar challenge when she first came to San Diego State University.

"Based on those experiences, the first thing I did was reach out and talk to customers," she says. "I wanted to know what they liked, what they didn't like, where they thought we needed to improve and how we might be able to capture the design work that was being outsourced to firms off campus."

Feedback ran the gamut, from very happy customers to unhappy customers. In some cases, Rutledge discovered, work was being sent off campus because of a lack of confidence that it could be completed accurately and on time by the campus print shop. In other cases, the in-plant simply did not have the resources to accomplish the work.

"Although our 'Brown First' business model centralizes all university printing through Graphic Services," Rutledge comments, "if we cannot meet customer requirements, then the work goes off campus for services."

At the time, the Graphic Services print facility, which is located off-campus, had an HP Indigo digital press, an aged two-color Sakurai and a pair of Hamada presses.


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