Revenue-Generating Ideas

  • Change policy to rent Bayou Oaks townhouses to Greek organizations, not to individual members of the Greek organizations. Currently, the townhouses are dedicated to particular fraternities or sororities, but the beds are rented to individuals. If the organization does not have enough members wanting to stay in the house, the extra beds remain empty. (Placing non-members in the beds has been unsuccessful because they are either ostracized by group members, or are pressured to join the sorority or fraternity.) The Greek houses have no incentive to fill the beds, because residents pay the same whether the townhouse is full or only partially occupied. Currently, Bayou Oaks townhouses are only 78.7 percent full, and we lost money on the empty beds. (In contrast, Bayou Oaks Residence Hall is 98.9 percent full.) If Greek organizations decline to rent the townhouse, RLH can take it over and use it for other special interest housing, such as language houses, an international house or STEM program house.
  • Explore the possibility of raising revenue by creating a “.com” website attached to the university’s website and selling advertising on it. Other universities have done this. They don’t accept all advertising – the advertisers must provide a service to the students and generate some income to the university.
  • Reduce the need for parking and classroom space by widely expanding our online course offerings. Aim to develop degree plans (especially master’s level work) that can be completed entirely online, so UH can compete against the for-profit schools that offer the same.
  • Allow faculty to supplement their own salaries for overload research stipends from grant funds in the same way that faculty who teach extra get money from overload stipends from state money. This would help promote research. In our current system, faculty have to pay to do research – we pay out-of-pocket costs in terms of telecommuting, we have to pay for course release in order to "buy out time" for the privilege of doing research, and due to the nature of science, we have to absorb the overtime costs associated with working nights and weekends on experiments because science does not always happen during the 9-5 hours. Allowing faculty to supplement their own salaries with research overload stipends from grant funds would help to stimulate greater reliance on extramural support and incentivize time to do science rather than our current model of incentivizing time to teach. Granted, teaching is very important, but given our Tier One mission – research, and research money, is MORE important.
  • While parking is always a controversial topic at universities, it provides a mechanism to generate revenue. Parking revenues should, at a minimum, cover the cost of operating the lot, but should be raised to whatever the market will bear.
  • Require each college (except honors) to create revenue-generating, positive net profit continuing education programs. While this may be the norm in some colleges, many do almost none. This would become a key evaluator of the success of that college's dean.
  • As the number of students living on campus increases, the number of retail transactions per student also increases. What products and services do students leave campus to acquire? Rather than put just another sandwich shop in a dorm, what other retail establishments do students (and faculty) desire? In a similar fashion, get UH ready for the train by creating retail opportunities for students just outside of the station. Whether hungry MBA students or faculty on their way home, a variety of retail shops could generate revenues.
  • Create a program where high school students would enroll in dual-credit research-oriented courses and could enroll in courses, attend workshops and events, practice with tutorials, and connect with mentors just as undergraduates do. For example, a dual-credit introductory sociology course could be oriented to not only teach sociology, but to get high school students involved in conducting sociological research through methods of questionnaire design or some other methodology.
  • Create a program designed to provide an online/distance education path for high school students wishing to take so-called dual credit courses that provide credit toward high school graduation while at the same time earning credits toward a college degree.
  • While it is not unusual for classrooms and buildings to be endowed, we are missing the opportunity for companies to endow individual courses. For example, an introductory petroleum engineering course could be endowed by Chevron or Shell. Similarly, a large accounting firm could endow a large section of introductory accounting or a large financial services firm could underwrite an MBA introductory finance course. These endowments would include logo and advertisement placement in online classes and screen savers in classrooms.
  • Encourage professional schools to create part-time doctoral programs.  These programs typically are low-cost, but can generate sizable formula funding opportunities. While these students often don't participate in rigorous research, they can contribute to other parts of the academic mission.
  • Rent out Robertson Stadium and other venues for community events.
  • The MAPP Facilities Use Policy and Rates have not been changed since August 29, 2000.  I believe that increasing the rental rates and actively marketing the facilities on campus could generate substantial gains.
  • Try and market UH in Houston. If you go to other cities you can easily find merchandise supporting their local college team anywhere, from stores to restaurants.  However, you cannot find any UH merchandise outside of the university. If I go to Wal-Mart, Target, Academy, etc.,  I can find hundreds of UT and A&M items. Rarely do I find any UH logos. Houston is the fourth largest city in the U.S. and since we are the largest university in Houston, there is no need for our merchandise to be excluded.
  • One way to generate additional revenue is to sell or auction off on a yearly basis the items that have been sitting in surplus, such as computers, printers, cameras, etc. to faculty and staff.
  • Revisit, revise and enforce the policy regarding facilities and administrative costs. Also referred to as indirect or overhead cost, these are real costs of doing research that are essential for the support of sponsored research activity but are not easily identifiable with a particular sponsored project. The Department of Research often waives (forgives) the sponsors from providing the additional funding that can and should be legitimately requested as part of research awards. F&A costs are expenses incurred by the institution for joint or centralized activities such as building and equipment use and depreciation, operation and maintenance costs, central and department administration, sponsored projects administrative costs, library expenses, and student administrative services. When the university does not fully recover F&A costs related to a project from a sponsor, we are leaving money on the table, and must cover these costs from other university funds. Sponsored program budgets are expected to recover F&A costs at the maximum allowable rate.  The university should establish processes, procedures and accountability for reconciling sponsored program awards to make sure all award payments have been collected from the sponsor. This has not been accomplished for more than 15 years at UH.
  • To generate more funds, the university could consider special or specialized programs with fees similar to private schools. For example, a regular BBA would cost the same since the state is supporting it. However, a specialized BBA would have higher fees and better courses. Any student can enroll in these specialized courses but they would have to pay a premium tuition rate. Similarly, most graduate courses can be made specialized for specific groups. For example, a company may wish to sponsor a student for a program, without any admission or other requirements.  They or anyone who can afford it, especially some international students, can pay the premium tuition fees and enroll in these programs.  Doing this would not be difficult as one simply would have to create an extra section for the same course.  Then, the goal would be to compare the percentage of state supported students with premium tuition students. If the state support goes down, we increase the number of students in these special programs and vice versa.
  • Sell our licensed products in stores outside of the bookstore and the college store.  As an alumnus, it is very disheartening to see University of Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A & M, etc. merchandise sold all over Houston, when UH is not represented.
  • Utilize student ambassadors to talk to corporations, donors, etc.  If a person sees a student working hard and they hear positive news about the Univeristy of Houston, they are more inclined to give to the institution because they can see a direct impact of how their money will be utilized.
  • We need to consider online programs as a new source of revenue.   This can increase the number of students without increasing buildings.  This does mean, however, to increase technology but allows us to compete anywhere in the world.
  • Why don't we rent more of our facilities to outside sources in order to generate income? Example, when Robertson stadium is not in use by our Athletic Program or the Dynamos, can we rent the stadium for concert events? Are we making other facilities available for conferences or events to rent?  Can we use the campus for various festivities like downtown does, gating in the events and charging people to enter or park?
  • Can or does the University publish books written by faculty and receive a percentage?
  • We need to do more enrollment marketing more extensively overseas, particularly to India and China where they know about SUNY Buffalo or Syracuse even though we are at par.
  • We need to put more emphasis on our unique courses like the ones offered at the College of Technology.
  • We should hold an open forum with the major companies around Houston and ask them if they are willing to offer funding for an exchange program for their executives. We have world-class faculty and also have custom built programs. That might help the students, benefit the University and help the companies.
  • Evaluate programs and cut those that have consistently failed to generate revenue, are over staffed or are no longer aligned with the mission of the university.
  • Many colleges are looking to Continuing Education programs as a viable way to increase revenues.  This is an excellent idea.  The ETUO: Continuing Education department, as a self sustaining unit, must create programs that generate revenues with clear benchmarks on allocation of marketing dollars, faculty expense etc.  Colleges should run CE programs, but instead of hiring new staff members or passing the task on to existing staff members who are already over utilized, why not let Continuing Education take a central role in the areas where we already operate with efficiency and skill: Development, marketing, registration and delivery methods.  Colleges have amazing faculty and we have the skill set to help them create their programs using a shared revenue model that is common at several other large state schools in our region and nation.  We can utilize our existing staff members across multiple colleges and programs that save the colleges and the university money, which means more revenue from these programs can be directed back to the college and faculty members.