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Faculty Advisory Committee on Budgets

The Faculty Advisory Committee on the Budget (FACB) is composed of 15 members (including two appointees from the Faculty Council). The president appoints the chair for this committee for a three-year term. In addition to the provost, several academic and budget officers meet regularly with this committee.

The FACB has met seven times during the academic year and expects to meet in May regarding the state appropriations. In addition, the chair of the FACB serves as the faculty representative to the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee (TPAC), which met weekly during the first half of the spring semester in preparation for its work in the fall of 2007.

The first meeting of committee was organizational. Rowena Fong was elected as vice chair of the FACB. At the second meeting, September 26, 2006, the FACB had its orientation to the UT Budget – ‘Budget 101’ – presented by interim Provost Steve Monti and Mary Knight. Primary attention was focused on the academic core budget ($974 million). Several substantive issues have been addressed by the FACB during their meetings and are summarized below.

The FACB reviewed the balances, revenues and expenditures of the trademark activity account for the years FY 2001-02 through FY 2005-06. The trademark belongs to the University and interest and sales of trademark items are generated by all components of the University. Presently, all trademark funds are returned to athletics. In November, the FACB unanimously passed a resolution that was subsequently forwarded to President Powers recommending that the President continue inquiries and discussions that result in policies for allocation of the trademark revenues that more clearly reflect the budget priorities of the University as a whole.

The FACB had lengthy discussions at several meetings regarding TA/AI salaries across schools and colleges. Differential pay rates exist across colleges and may be driven in part by market forces. The chief concern is that some school and college rates are so low that they do not provide a livable wage for the graduate students. This situation developed over time in part because of policies and priorities within different colleges – that is decisions were made by the deans and faculty of some schools/colleges to spend funds on areas other than TA/AI salaries. A second concern is that low TA/AI rates (compared to other universities) make it difficult to recruit the best graduate students. The FACB discussion with Provost Leslie and others concluded that:
1) This issue deserves serious attention from the provost.
2) This is a priority issue – but it is unlikely that it can be solved in a single year. It will probably require a combination of central and school/college funds. The deans play a critical role in addressing these disparities.
3) Attempts to address the problem should focus initially on schools/colleges that are below the standard, and policies may need to be developed to avoid the situation arising again.
4) The Tuition Policy Advisory Committee could encourage schools/colleges to include funds for improvement of these salaries in their requests for increases in graduate tuition.
5) The upcoming Capital Campaign may provide additional support for graduate students.

The FACB also reviewed the current policies regarding return of interest on gift accounts and proposed changes. FACB member Larry Abraham provided a brief report on the work of the Faculty Council subcommittee that examined salary compression at UT Austin. The committee expects that they may address both of these issues in the next year. The committee also met with Marvin Hackert, associate dean of the Graduate School, for an update on the use of funds in the Faculty Travel Grant Program.

Alexa Stuifbergen, chair