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A Message from the President about the Magis Operational Excellence Program

Dear students,

As you prepare for midterms and spring break, I write to share an update on an important initiative for Saint Louis University: the Magis Operational Excellence Program. Launched in February 2016, this comprehensive review of University-wide operations seeks to reduce bureaucracy and increase our effectiveness as an organization. Our ability to make SLU more affordable, offer large scholarships, improve national reputation, and invest in new programs and resources for students depends on how well we run this University.

One component of Operational Excellence involves how business units are staffed. After much analysis, collaboration, and careful reflection, we have designed an organizational structure that we believe will achieve greater efficiency and lower the cost to operate SLU. A difficult and unavoidable part of changing an organization of our size is a reduction in the number of people who are employed here.

On Tuesday, March 7, about 120 staff members and administrators — or about 4 percent of all staff members and administrators employed by SLU — will have a private and confidential conversation with their supervisor who will inform them that they no longer have a position at the University. We are offering enhanced severance packages that include tuition for their children and 8-45 weeks of salary depending on years of service. We are also providing professional assistance in transitioning to new career opportunities.

Please know we have been guided by our Catholic, Jesuit values in our approach to this work. When you find yourself in a leadership position facing difficult decisions, I hope your Jesuit education is a light that guides you as well.

I am grateful for the input from the two SGA representatives on the Operational Excellence steering committee who were steadfast in ensuring that we took great care in planning to mitigate the potential negative impact on your overall experience. Many of you may not notice a change in day-to-day operations because of these efforts.

All classes will continue as planned, but our community is being impacted. I recognize it is difficult to grapple with the fact that some staff members who have helped you and supported you may be without a job. I know you care deeply about our community, so I ask for your prayers and support as some staff members and administrators retire, others move on to new jobs, and some take on new roles at SLU.

Tuesday will be painful for our community, and the next several weeks will be a period of adjustment. Yet, I am confident that our commitment to your experience and development as women and men for and with others remains at the forefront of all we do.

I encourage you to visit the Operational Excellence website, where you will find an overview of the current improvement initiatives underway and those that are forthcoming. The majority of the Operational Excellence program focus areas are related to specific operational issues, some of which are directly related to student concerns — such as reshaping academic advising. We are building a stronger university for our students, poised for significant growth as we enter our 200th anniversary year.

When you visit the Operational Excellence website you will find an online form where you can submit feedback to the program coordinators -- Eric Armbrecht, Ph.D., M.S., Associate Professor, and Mickey Luna, J.D., Vice President for Human Resources. As always, I will do my best to respond to your emails and questions or share them with other University leaders who may be closer to a particular issue.


Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.