Search Results for: budget

Faculty Member, Student to Join University Budget Council

In 2000, my predecessor, President Larry Faulkner, identified the need for a small group of leaders to advise him on UT’s complex budget. The resulting University Budget Council has been a very valuable tool for helping direct our funds toward our institutional priorities. Today I’m announcing that, for the first time, we have established dedicated positions on the council for a faculty member and a student.

Professor Andrea Gore of the College of Pharmacy will serve as the first faculty member, and Natalie Butler, a Plan II senior, has agreed to serve as our first student member. (Natalie happens to be Student Government president this year, but this is not an ex officio position for the SG president.)

In addition to these two new seats, the council includes the president, executive vice president and provost, vice provost, chief financial officer, vice president for university operations, budget director, and deputy to the president for a total of nine.

I believe having a faculty member and a student as permanent positions within the council will add two important dimensions to this deliberative body, will help us better incorporate the perspective of those crucial constituencies, and demonstrates our commitment to transparency.

I look forward to getting Andrea’s and Natalie’s counsel on our university’s priorities.

Hook ’em Horns,
Bill's Signature

Budget Update June 2011

I wanted to share this message, which I sent to our faculty and staff today:

Dear Colleagues,

The regular session of the Legislature ended on Monday, and I want to give you an update.  In the current budget, which must be completed during the special session, the 2012-2013 budget for UT Austin will be down by 16.5% from the original 2010-2011 budget.

This represents a $92.1 million decrease in funding for the 2012-2013 biennium compared to 2010-2011. The impact of this is complex and could change as a result of action taken in the special session. But if these changes stand, the budget reductions will be close to the cuts that the units were anticipating. Budget reductions of this scale will be painful, but careful planning by the University Budget Council, the deans, department chairs, and vice presidents will make them manageable.

The cost of group insurance may increase, and there may be revisions to annual deductible amounts and copayments. The employer contribution to retirement plans could also be affected.

Finally, there is the question of how this budget will affect salaries for faculty and staff.  That decision has yet to be made. The University Budget Council will review the situation and reach a decision by the end of June. And of course, I will keep you informed.

I know there has been a great deal of uncertainty about our budget, and I want you to know that we are doing our best to minimize the negative impact of these cuts on our people and programs.

I appreciate everything you do for UT.

Bill's Signature

Budget Message

I wanted to share this message, which I sent to our faculty and staff yesterday:

Dear Colleagues:

The 82nd Legislature is under way, and news reports have focused on the difficult budgetary challenges facing our state and proposed cuts to higher education and public schools.

Our elected officials must make some tough choices during this session, and those choices will have a significant impact on our university.

I know we are all concerned about how we will be affected by the state’s budget shortfall.  Budgetary issues will be debated in the coming months.

I cannot predict how these deliberations will turn out, but I want to assure you that we have been preparing for this scenario for more than a year and a half. Thanks to the hard work of our provost, deans, vice presidents, and many of you across the campus, we have made significant progress in examining our financial situation, cutting costs, improving efficiency, and planning for a possible reduction in state funding.

This uncertainty is challenging and stressful. I understand how important it is to keep you informed on developments that affect the future of our university.  I also understand that budget cuts are a greater burden for our staff.

Every time I go to our Capitol I am mindful that I represent the interests of faculty, staff, students, and alumni who make The University of Texas at Austin one of the world’s leading institutions of higher education.

We will continue to pursue our mission to become the nation’s leading public research university.

The quality of our university is the result of the dedication, talent, and commitment of all of you.  With your help, I believe that we can emerge from this period as a strong and vibrant institution better poised to pursue our vision to be the best.

Thank you for your continuing support.

Bill's Signature

Budget Update

I sent this message to our faculty and staff earlier today.

You may be aware that on May 28 the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Speaker of the House directed state agencies to submit appropriations requests for the state’s 2012-2013 biennial budget that include a possible 10% budget reduction.  This is in addition to a similar directive on May 18 to implement a 5% reduction for the 2010-2011 biennium.

These measures are being taken in response to the economic recession and the resulting weakness in state sales tax revenues.

In early May UT Austin completed plans to reduce general revenue spending by 5% for the current biennium.  In the weeks ahead, we will consult University leadership, including representatives of the faculty and staff, regarding how we will proceed with our plans for the possibility of deeper budget cuts as directed by the state.

At this point, I cannot say how these developments will affect our University.  They do have the potential to disrupt our plans for a 2% merit raise pool for fiscal year 2011 for faculty and staff.  Merit raises remain a high priority and we will do our best to preserve them.

I want to thank the deans, vice presidents, chairs, and supervisors for effectively communicating our budget plans in May.  We will continue to be forthcoming and transparent, and I’ll share additional news with you as it becomes available. 

These are challenging times for all of us, and I am even more grateful for your contributions to our University.

Bill's Signature

Confronting a Budget Challenge

You may see some media reports about budget cuts at UT.  These cuts are largely confined to administrative units.  The Office of the President, for example, has reduced its budget by 8 percent.  Here is a message that I shared with faculty, staff, and students earlier today describing the budget reduction plan.

Dear Colleagues:

Faced with a forecast of declining operating budgets, UT has initiated a plan to make budget cuts of $14.6 million in annual recurring expenditures.

Before I share the details, I want to say that I know this has been a difficult year for the campus. Many people have made sacrifices, and it hasn’t been easy. The faculty, staff, and students have all contributed to these efforts. Much work remains, but I am proud of the way we have worked together to confront these challenges.

Given the financial realities UT faces during the next few years, these budget cuts are prudent and necessary. We have done our best to protect the academic enterprise—teaching, research, and the student experience.  More than 90 percent of the cuts come from administrative units.  These cuts in the administrative portfolios ranged from 1-8 percent. Only about one-half of 1 percent came from academic colleges and schools.

While we have worked to minimize the loss of jobs, when the budget reduction plan is fully implemented, about 200 positions in the administrative units could be affected. Included in the 200 are about 125 positions campus-wide that have already been eliminated in the past year. More positions in academic units will be affected in the future, when deans implement their own re-allocation plans.

We believe the majority of these changes will be implemented through retirements and attrition, but not all. I deeply regret that these budget cuts will cost some jobs. We will do everything we can to help the employees affected.

To achieve the budget cuts we are announcing today, administrative units have also reduced or eliminated expenditures such as travel, equipment, supplies, services, printing, and mail costs. 

The operating units have been permitted to phase in budget reductions between August 31, 2010 and August 31, 2011.  However, some units will choose to move forward immediately. 

Our situation is compounded by many factors, two of which are decreased investment returns from our endowments and the need to maintain competitive compensation levels for our employees.  As you know, all staff and most faculty did not receive raises in fiscal year 2009-10. We are re-allocating resources in the operating units to fund a 2% merit raise pool for faculty and staff. All employees are eligible, but I want to emphasize that the raise program is merit-based, so not all employees will receive raises. 

It is essential that we set aside funds to reward excellence in our faculty and staff. If we don’t do that, we won’t remain competitive and retain the best talent available. We remain committed to pursuing our goal of becoming the leading public university in the nation.

We continue to reduce expenditures and increase efficiencies throughout the campus.  Programs implemented since 2003 to centralize business transactions, conserve energy, and restructure information technology services, among others, now save more than $50 million annually.  Our administrative costs as a percentage of our total budget are among the lowest in higher education.  I want to thank our hard-working staff for making this possible.

In the long term, university leaders, elected state officials, alumni, students and their families, the business community, and our citizenry must develop a new funding model for public higher education. The current model of replacing decreased state support with budget cuts is not sustainable. We must find a way to fund and preserve the public research universities that nurture economic growth, address the challenges of society, and promote individual advancement.  The future of higher education is at stake.

What we accomplish here every day is important to our students and their families, and to the people of Texas.  It is crucial that we work together to manage these difficult times and move forward.  Thank you for your help and for all you do for the University.

Bill's Signature

Budget Update

Earlier this week, I had the chance to speak to the Faculty Council, where I gave an update on our budget situation.  As I mentioned previously in Tower Talk, all state agencies have been asked to prepare a prioritized plan to reduce state general revenue expenditures by 5%.  For UT Austin, that means a reduction of $29 million in state funding.  Fortunately, last summer we reorganized our Information Technology Services division, resulting in improved services and a savings of more than $5 million.  I’ve also arranged for a transfer of $5 million from cash reserves in the trademark licensing and sponsorships account by Intercollegiate Athletics.  We will make up the difference with reductions in new hiring, deferring some capital expenditures, and significant budget cuts in the administrative portfolios.  To a much lesser extent, we are asking for reductions in the colleges and academic departments.

Combined with declines in income from the Available University Fund and other endowments, this reduction in state funding will have a considerable impact on our budget.

I’ll keep you posted on these developments.

Bill's Signature