In my previous post, I discussed our economic situation, priorities, and strategy. Today I want to talk about implementing the strategy.
Reallocation—No colleges or schools have experienced a budget cut for this academic year. They have been asked to reallocate resources to fund half of the faculty raise pool for 2009-10, as well as their internal strategic initiatives. Deans, department chairs, and vice presidents know their programs better than anyone. Instead of managing by presidential edict, I have asked the individuals with direct responsibility for our programs to make these decisions. This is very difficult and painful work. I applaud our faculty, department chairs, and deans for the progress they’ve made. Some areas, such as Information Technology Services (ITS), have already seen reorganizations and reductions in force. The changes at ITS alone will save more than $5 million per year.
Nevertheless, we face serious financial challenges through 2012, and we will need to continue working hard to address them.
The future—Unlike many of our national peer universities, UT Austin has not experienced severe budget cuts imposed by external forces. We are not facing a budget shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars, which the University of California System is confronting. We will come out of this recession as a stronger and more efficient institution.
The recession has created uncertainty, which is hard on our students, faculty, and staff. We have tried to include representative voices from the campus community in all our planning and communications. Sometimes leaders must make tough decisions. I understand that these decisions have human costs and affect real people. But doing nothing also comes at a cost—a cost to the future of our programs, a cost to our aspirations, and a cost to the value of a degree from the University of Texas at Austin.
I believe we must strive for excellence, in good times and bad. I also believe that if we make strategic and disciplined decisions, we can emerge from the recession closer to our goal of becoming the nation’s best public university.