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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.
The Faculty Advisory Committee on Budgets (FACB) met six times during the 2007-08 academic year. While the committee brought no resolutions to the Faculty Council, the FACB meetings offered opportunities for constructive discussion with the administration concerning faculty perspectives on a range of budgetary issues.
The FACB meetings focused on three key areas this year: the overall sources and funds of the 2007-08 University of Texas at Austin budget; faculty merit awards/increases; and strategic use of endowments. The committee met with Steve Monti and Mary Knight to review the 2007-08 University budget and the financial forecast developed through the efforts of the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee (TPAC). Concerns about UT funds as a result of the UT System Board of Regents December 2007 resolution to cap the limit of tuition and fee increases to a maximum of 4.95% for each of the academic years 2008-09 and 2009-2010 were also discussed.
The committee also discussed concerns with Provost Leslie about how information provided about faculty merit increases for the 2007-08 year may have contributed to misunderstanding among UT faculty in the way that the merit pool funds were initially allocated. This allocation process was an anomaly as it occurred in the midst of a shift to steer decision making to the academic units.
Strategic use of endowments to support faculty and college initiatives was discussed at length with Provost Leslie. Since endowment policy differs across departments and academic units on campus, there is a need for institutional decisions about how to make strategic use of these endowments. The provost and deans will work to tie priority setting, decision-making, and action to deans’ priorities for colleges and schools to the budget.
How these decisions (as well as input to decisions) concerning the budget allocation process might be communicated to deans by department chairs and faculty was also discussed. It was also suggested that questions and concerns about the University budget be solicited from the General Faculty. The results of this call (or survey) might be helpful in guiding future committee action.
The provost stressed the importance of transparency in budgeting and decision-making and commitment to making hard decisions. The committee expressed its support that in times of budgetary concerns the institution will continue to find ways to fund priorities, such as the long-term priority established by former President Faulkner to increase the number of UT faculty by 30 per year.
The committee also met in the fall with Doug Burger, chair of Faculty Council, to discuss the role of the FACB in conjunction with other UT groups that advise on budget matters, including the Policy & Planning Advisory Committee (PPAC), the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee (TPAC), and the Executive Committee to the President, among others. It was agreed that more interaction among the various budget advisory entities could enhance dissemination of budget issues to the faculty.
Patricia Stout, chair