Hardin-Simmons University right-sized its academic offerings and created a sustainable salary structure for employees

Learn how Mindstream helped the university create a sustainable path forward with strategic approaches to employee compensation and academic programming  

Starting Position 

Hardin-Simmons University (HSU) faced challenges that many private, rural institutions are facing and will continue to face over the coming years 

  • Declining revenues, leading to significant budget deficits each year 
  • Declining enrollment and rising discount rates 
  • Low morale from the first employee layoffs in the history of the university 

Insights & Advice 

HSU engaged Mindstream to address the two largest areas of expense for any university: employee compensation and program offerings.  

We discovered significant pay inequities across campus, due to the very decentralized nature of HSU’s budgeting and human resource functions. In addition, compensation for many positions did not match the local or national ranges for similar positions within the industry. Regarding the review of academic programs, many had been created and operated without consideration to prospective student markets and profitability of those programs, resulting in programs with very few students and significant resources tied to keeping those programs alive. 

Our team helped HSU craft a strategic philosophy for employee compensation that provided consistency and equity. The next step was implementing a plan that both created job classifications and simplified the employee salary structure. 

A model for measuring return-on-investment and potential market for all existing academic programs was also crafted for HSU leadership. We identified programs that could be created to drive enrollment as well as programs the university needed to eliminate because of very low enrollment. 

The Mindstream solution set included Critical-To-Quality metrics and Key Performance Indicators to measure success of all initiatives. Also, each plan contained change management initiatives to ensure adherence to and cultural adaptation of new processes and policies. 


Mindstream identified $3.6 million in recurring and one- time savings. Our analysis and approach also enabled HSC leadership to: 

  • Reduce their annual budget by $2.5 million 
  • Consolidate staff and faculty roles to facilitate living within the university revenues without sacrificing the student experience 
  • Close or consolidate academic programs that were no longer viable 
  • Explore new programs to increase enrollment 
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