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UT Committee Discusses More Cost-cutting Ideas to Address Reduced Appropriations

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The University of Tennessee’s Committee on Effectiveness and Efficiency for the Future, a special committee of the UT Board of Trustees, discussed more cost-cutting proposals on Monday as University campuses and entities continue to prepare scaled-back budgets.

The meeting itself exemplified one cost-cutting measure already underway — videoconferencing. The committee convened in Martin, but other trustees, administrators and staff participated via videoconference in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Memphis. The committee is overseeing a board initiative to review effectiveness and efficiency while maintaining academic quality.

The committee discussed the preliminary cuts anticipated in the governor’s budget. Based on current figures, the University is planning for a cut in state appropriations of 13.2 percent, or $66 million, for FY2010. The cut would reduce the UT budget from a little over $1 billion to about $978 million. Administration for the UT System is expected to take the biggest percentage cut of any unit at 17.7 percent.

“This is an opportunity to reposition and readjust what we’re going to do as an institution and going forward how we can help ourselves become more efficient and more focused on our core values of what it is we do,” President John Petersen told the committee.

In addition to the $66 million in cuts, the University is anticipating another 5 percent reduction to offset potentially worse economic conditions. That cut would translate into another $25 million.

The University has asked faculty and staff for their input into ways to make the University more efficient, and so far more than 600 suggestions have been submitted via UTALK, an interactive Internet feature.

Based on these suggestions, 11 categories are being reviewed and considered. These categories are:

  • Reduce printing and mailing and increase electronic media
  • Energy conservation
  • Employee extra service, compensation and overtime
  • A review of the academic calendar
  • Reduce travel with more videoconferencing
  • The practice of hiring retirees
  • Streamlining General Education
  • Improving the performance management system
  • Investing in distance learning
  • Reviewing contracts and renegotiating
  • Outsourcing services

“Your feedback has driven all of this, and we are proud of how everyone at UT is stepping up during these difficult times. We will move forward with measures to save UT money and make it a better institution of learning and service to the state,” Petersen said in an e-mail to employees on Monday.

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Category: Announcements