MINUTES OF THE REGULAR FACULTY COUNCIL MEETING OF
February 15, 2010
COMMUNICATION WITH THE PRESIDENT.
Comments by the President.
President Powers said it was especially nice to be back in MAIN 212, and he thought the renovations would return the room to its “centerpiece” status for University events as well as serve as a very functional place for the Faculty Council meetings.
In his update regarding the budget, President Powers said the request for a 5 percent reduction plan applied only to general revenue rather than the entire budget, and the reductions had been distributed equally among state agencies and educational institutions. He said UT Austin’s share would be $29 million, and the possibility that the UT System might cover $7 million of the amount from its reserves had not materialized. Should the $29 million end up being a continuing requirement, either per year or per biennium, President Powers said these reductions would be “very substantial challenges for our campus.”
According to the President Powers, UT Austin is developing a plan to accomplish the reductions as much as possible through recurring savings and some available balances and reserves to get the process underway. He expected the next legislative session to provide clarity regarding the possible impact on recurring funds; in the meantime, he said “the balances will get us to that point, but they will not get us through that point.” In terms of priorities, his first choice was to use the recurring funds saved by reorganizing information technology. The second priority to utilize would be a $5 million balance contributed from athletics “to help us get through this crisis.” He explained that the funds from athletics were reserves derived from the licensing and trademark revenues, which would be utilized to lessen the impact of the budget reduction across the UT campus.
President Powers said other priority areas for funding reductions would include (1) recurring savings from non-college/school administrative budgets, such as those of the vice presidents and other organizational units, and (2) balances resulting from deferral of capital equipment purchases and delays in hiring personnel. He emphasized that the reductions mentioned thus far did not directly impact the budgets of the colleges and schools, and he stated it “would be tremendous, and it certainly would be the hope, if we could get through this process without looking to the colleges.” If the savings generated were insufficient to meet the $29 million reduction or if the financial situation became more adverse than currently expected, President Power said his last priority area would be for the colleges/schools to provide in the aggregate approximately $2 million from further internal reallocation. He said he had alerted the deans regarding this matter at a meeting held that morning, and he expected they would convey the need for contingency planning to the department chairs. He said that all that was required at present were plans for the potential reductions since delivery of the funds would occur in the future; however, he was hopeful that the ambiguity regarding the mix of recurring savings and existing balances that could be used would be clarified in time for college/school budget instructions to be developed and disseminated for the regular University budget process that occurs in March and April.
He said he would continue to share budgetary information as it develops with the Council and the UT community. After calling the situation “fluid” and “a very serious threat to the budgets of the University,” he said the process would be managed with “as much input and as much collaboration” as possible to accomplish the goal of “protecting the core of what we do—that is, the teaching and research mission—to the largest extent possible.”