Bain's on campus: that's good news…right?

by Vault Consulting Editors | October 20, 2009

  • My Vault
In a normal world, the news that a major consulting company was going to be seen around a college campus would be an indication that said firm were conducting a graduate recruitment campaign. Under such circumstances, most people concerned with the college would be relatively happy: the students because of the opportunity to network with players in a lucrative career field; the college's administration because the presence of a consulting giant on campus signals that you're in the upper echelons of the academic community (at least as far as your business program is concerned); and the consulting firm because they're increasing their chances of pulling in the best and brightest of the fresh new talent out there.

This article from The Daily Californian(which we came by via topix.com) suggests that there is another side to the campus-consultant relationship—one that some college administrators and employees are likely to be less warmly disposed towards in coming months. How so? Well, officials at UC Berkeley have called in Bain & Co. as part of a "campus-led 'Operational Excellence' initiative." The move comes in "in the face of budget cuts and concerns about campus efficiency." The result: "Bain is now in the process of conducting interviews with the campus community as part of an initial six-month diagnostic review." Or, in plain English: six months from now, pink slips are likely coming to Berkeley.

While a little vague on the specifics of a typical Bain higher education project*, the article does provide some interesting information on some of the company's other forays into the field, including ongoing work at UNC Chapel Hill and Cornell. And, happily for all those who make their living in front of rows of students (as opposed to those, say, who manage rows of numbers on a spreadsheet), "[t]he firm's focus at UC Berkeley, Chapel Hill and Cornell is on the campuses' administrative operations." A spokesperson for Cornell put it even more bluntly, stating that the company "will focus its attention on restructuring 'administration, facilities and back-office business operations and infrastructure.'"

Whether that list is likely to include Oski the bear is unknown at this point.

--Posted by Phil Stott, Vault Staff Writer

* Understandably: it is Bain we're talking about! The paper did, however, manage to cram in the obligatory reference to Mitt Romney. But, because it contains more than the usual "former Republican Presidential hopeful" schtick, here it is in its entirety: "After being elected Massachusetts governor in 2002, Mitt Romney—who founded Bain subsidiary, Bain Capital—hired Bain to identify possible cost-saving measures as part of a failed effort to reform the state's university system." An elected official hiring their old firm for public-sector work, eh? Who'd a thunk?

Filed Under: Consulting

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