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Faculty Advisory Committee on Budgets


The Faculty Advisory Committee on Budgets serves in an advisory capacity to the president and provost.  Its charge is to review University budgets and make appropriate recommendations. 

Faculty Members: Lawrence Abraham, Patrick Davis, Clinton Dawson, Diana DiNitto, Janet Ellzey, Kenneth Flamm, Jack Gilbert, Marvin Hackert (chair), Steven Kachelmeier, Bruce Palka, Salomon Stavchansky, Chandler Stolp, Patricia Stout, Madeline Sutherland-Meier (vice chair), Gerald Torres.

Administration Reps: Sheldon Ekland-Olson (provost), Stephen Monti, William Lasher, Kevin Hegarty, Mary Knight, Gail Spillar, Maria Cruz

The Faculty Advisory Committee on Budgets (FACB) met five times during the 2003-2004 academic year.

The faculty members of the committee initially met on September 8th to elect a vice chair and to discuss priorities for the coming year. Madeline Sutherland-Meier was re-elected as vice chair. Chair Marv Hackert reviewed last year’s summary report and presented an overall view of the budget and the budget process as well as presented a summary of recent budget actions by the State Legislature and the steps taken by the University to address the budget shortfall.

Actions taken by 78th Legislative Actions

  • Approved House Bill 3015 - Tuition deregulation .
  • Granted 100% indirect costs return ~ $39M over biennium to UT Austin.
  • Enacted a 50% reduction of medical benefits to part-time employees (impacts all graduate students plus numerous other faculty and staff part-time employees).
  • Enacted increases from 3 to 10 years the length of minimum UT service needed by staff and faculty to be eligible to receive state paid insurance premium sharing during retirement if they do not meet the “Rule of 80.”
  • Enacted a 90 day delay in health insurance for new employees.

Actions taken by UT Austin Administration

  • No raise or merit pool for Fall 2003 – estimated savings of $15M.
  • Delay in faculty hiring – concern about high student / faculty ratio.
  • Deferred maintenance on infrastructure.
  • Staff layoffs – About 700 positions were eliminated, 239 staff took advantage of the voluntary retirement incentive, about 120 layoffs occurred, and the rest came by not filling vacant positions.

Henceforth, the committee met with Provost Sheldon Ekland-Olson and/or other members of the administration.

At the second meeting of the FACB on October 13, 2003, Provost Sheldon Ekland-Olson presented an overall assessment of the budget and the role of the committee. The FACB then heard a report by Kevin Hegarty, vice president and chief financial officer, on the recommendations of the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee (TPAC). The TPAC called for the establishment of an “Academic Sustainability Tuition” to raise $13 million dollars in additional revenue needed by the University (see summary at D 2717-2728). For full-time students, this would amount to an additional $361 for the Spring 2004 semester. This represents an increase of 13.3% over the current average cost of education (tuition and fees). A similar increase was recommended for fall 2004. The FACB drafted and approved a resolution that endorsed the Academic Sustainability Tuition as recommended by the TACB. This was presented to the Faculty Council (FC) at its meeting on October 20, 2003 (recorded as D 2729). The FC approved the measure by voice vote without dissent.

The third meeting of the FACB was on December 10, 2003. There was a discussion of budget priorities: The administration has stated that its top three budget priorities are

i) addressing infrastructure needs;
ii) adding new faculty and decreasing the student / faculty ratio;
iii) salary compensation to attract and retain faculty and staff.

Provost Sheldon Ekland-Olson solicited input from the FACB on the relative weighting of these priorities and asked for help to identify areas or targeted programs that should be considered for extra support. It was concluded that if the Academic Sustainability Tuition proposal was approved, then a modest salary adjustment for faculty and staff was a high priority, especially since there was no increase given in the fall of 2003. (Note: A ~3% merit pool was made available to provide raises for faculty and staff at UT Austin, effective January 2004.)

The fourth meeting of the FACB was held on January 16, 2004. In trying to provide the provost with the best input on budget priorities, we discussed the desirability of having a way to easily view potential "what if" scenarios. Like - "what if" the salary increase was 1% less, what funds would then be available for other needs. It was pointed out that John Dollard, associate dean of graduate studies, already had an Excel file with some of these features. The FACB decided to invite John to join us for our next meeting to demonstrate his spreadsheet program. Furthermore, in order to better comment on appropriate salary compensation levels, it was deemed appropriate to review salary information of UT faculty vs. faculty at peer institutions. Dr. Steve Monti, executive vice provost, was to coordinate with Marsha Kelman for this information.

A new item related to retirement was introduced by Ken Flamm, professor, LBJ School of Public Affairs. It was pointed out that faculty hired after 1995 receive a 6% match from the University for their retirement program whether they are on TRS or ORP. Faculty hired before 1995 were getting an 8.5% match from the University. The committee saw benefits of adding a 2.5% bump to University's contribution to the retirement benefit for newly tenured faculty as part of their promotion "bump" for faculty hired after 1995. This would have the desirable effect of having all tenured faculty receiving the same retirement benefits.

The fifth and final meeting of the FACB was held on February 4, 2004. Guest John Dollard, demonstrated how his interactive spreadsheet could provide some information on cost effects of changing the size of UT’s enrollment in different colleges across campus, taking into account the costs for faculty, TAs, etc. in those colleges plus the impact of those additional or fewer majors on costs across campus. Several members of the FACB were enthusiastic about meeting with John Dollard to explore how this program could be modified to address our “what if” scenarios. At this meeting, we also heard information on UT's six year Capital Plan and discussed the interplay between that and the Faculty Building Advisory Committee.

It was the chair’s intention that the FACB meet again to hear the report on faculty salaries and to report on any modifications recommended to the Excel spreadsheet program demonstrated by Dr. John Dollard. Due to scheduling difficulties, the follow-up meeting with Dr. Dollard was never held, nor was there another meeting of the FACB. President Faulkner did present a summary of salary comparisons of UT faculty at the different ranks vs. peer institutions at the UT Leadership Council meeting on June 14th. The data show that UT Austin faculty salaries have exceeded the cost-of-living index in recent years but that the gap between UT faculty salaries and those paid at our peer institutions has continued to widen since 1985. Some information on UT faculty salaries and comparison statistics are available on the Web through the Office of Institutional Research (http://www.utexas.edu/academic/oir/statistical_handbook/03-04/).

Marvin Hackert, chair