When Holden Thorp, chancellor of the University of North Carolina, was looking for ways to cut the university’s budget, he did what many executives in private industry do, reports the New York Times — hired a management consultant. The consultant, Bain & Co., came up with recommendations that it said could save the university more than $150 million a year. They included centralizing some of the university’s widely dispersed procurement operations and IT functions, and simplifying its organizational structure. Since Thorp hired Bain, both Cornell University and the University of California, Berkeley, have followed suit. In each case, the management consultants examined business functions but stayed away from academic issues such as courseloads and tenure. "Like any other large organization," Thorp said, "we hire people, we buy stuff, we connect to the internet, we build buildings and take care of our property, and we wanted Bain to look at how we could carry out those functions as efficiently as possible." He added: "I thought someone from outside the university world would provide a new perspective." At North Carolina, the consulting project was financed by an anonymous donor. At Berkeley, Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau said the Bain contract would cost $3 million–and hopefully save far more. "If we could save $30, $40, $50 million for an investment of $3 million, I’d be ecstatic," said Birgeneau, whose campus has been hit hard with budget cuts…

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