By Toren Elste | Jan 28, 2016

At Wednesday's Green Bag, event, we were lucky to hear from Tim Stetter, director of UW in the High School, who shared how the program implemented a major process reform which saved thousands of sheets of paper each year.

The UWHS program allows high school students to complete University of Washington courses in their own classrooms. Teachers in schools across the state teach the courses, using UW curriculum, activities, texts, tests, and grading scales, and students can receive UW credit for the course.

In order to keep each course up to standards, there is an application process for each course and teacher in the more than 100 high schools across the state which participate in the program, and before 2015 those applications were submitted annual in printed forms, in order to get the signatures of the department chairs and deans. Tim and his team have recently streamlined the process, moving from an annual approval process to an update process. UWHS no longer requires the signature of each dean and chairs on stacks of printed paper - instead, the chairs and deans get email updates and any necessary notifications.

This change saves more than 3,000 sheets of paper each year while also making the process more efficient and relevant for everyone involved. While it seems like a no-brainer in hindsight, Tim pointed out it did take a lot of communication and meetings with all involved stakeholders to make sure everyone was on board. The most important questions UWHS asked when starting the revamp was, "What is the goal of the process?" and "Can this goal be met in other ways?" When UWHS looked critically at the approval process, it became clear that the paper-intensive process was unnecessary, allowing them to determine how to change the process to best serve the program, while also being more efficient for the UWHS staff and departmental chairs and deans.

Once the process was in place, they weren't sure exactly how it would be received by the chairs and deans, but typical feedback included: “Thanks for making our lives much simpler” and “seems smart to me”.

An updated process for efficiency had the very positive added benefit of directly reducing paper use. Thanks to Tim and his team for being a part of reducing paper, and helping foster change on campus!

You can see Tim's PowerPoint from the presentation here.

If you’re interested in paper reduction or looking to make your mark on a more sustainable UW, take our Paper Reduction Pro pledge now.