University wraps up Service Excellence Program Office 

Keele campus pond

York University’s Service Excellence Program (SEP) wraps up after four transformative years, in response to current fiscal conditions.

York University established the SEP in 2020 to uphold its vision for service excellence and enhance administrative services. Designed as a multi-year initiative, the program aimed to embed a culture of continuous improvement across the University.   

Over the past four years, the SEP has attained that goal, achieving significant milestones, including streamlining purchasing and payments, expense reimbursement, staff recruiting and hiring, and service request ticketing. These enhancements have made work processes simpler, faster and more efficient. The program also spearheaded the creation of the University Services Centre (USC), a shared services centre that provides a single point of contact for high-volume administrative tasks. The USC now includes specialized teams in Finance, Human Resources and University Information Technology. It has also implemented numerous process improvements in response to community members’ feedback and recommendations.  

As the SEP evolved, there was careful consideration of how best to sustain these improvements within the University’s structure. York, like many institutions, has been managing financial pressures amidst reduced revenues and multi-year deficit reduction targets, as outlined in the three-year budget plan approved on April 30 by the Board of Governors. In light of these budget considerations, the decision was made to conclude the SEP by the end of October. This includes phasing out roles in the program’s central operational team. This is part of a broader effort to streamline administrative activities based on data-driven insights and community consensus. 

At the April 10 town hall, President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton shared with the community an overview of the University’s action plan to continue to advance the University Academic Plan and achieve financial sustainability. The action plan consists of 17 projects divided into three important streams: Program Enhancement and Sustainability; Enrolment Recovery; and Administrative Projects.  

The SEP has laid the foundation for the additional improvements that will stem from the action plan, each one guided by a functional lead responsible for administrative services. The USC will maintain its leadership role in facilitating continuous improvement in high-volume administrative services. 

“While change can be challenging, transitioning responsibility for service excellence to the functional leads reflects the University’s balanced approach to cost containment and long-term financial sustainability,” acknowledges Provost and VP Academic Lisa Philipps. “We are grateful to the SEP operational team for their efforts over the years and look forward to ongoing improvements that will benefit our community.” 

The decision to wind down the SEP Office at this time underscores York’s commitment to optimizing resources in response to fiscal constraints, while maintaining its commitment to service excellence and improving the well-being of the communities served by York University.