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Budget, Programs, Organizational Structure Among Issues Discussed by UT Trustees

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NASHVILLE -– In anticipation of federal stimulus money to make up state funding shortfalls for the next two fiscal years, the University of Tennessee is developing “two-year budgets” that look ahead to an expected $66 million appropriations reduction in 2012.

At Tuesday’s meetings of the UT Board of Trustees Finance & Administration and Executive & Compensation committees, UT Acting President Jan Simek described the process of identifying programs for possible consolidation or closure as a part of preparing for reduced funding two years from now.

“The stimulus allows us to gently move where we have to be, but we still must look for reductions. Were it not for the stimulus, we would have had to implement some draconian cuts in July,” Simek said. “Because of the stimulus, we can allow normal processes of attrition, of jobs opening in other sectors of the university possibly absorbing people, of normal transitioning to absorb some of these cuts.”

“We’ve tried hard to stay focused on the mission of the University — and as resources come in, we will look to rehire temporary instructors, to allow our classes to be smaller, offered at more times of day, and to give students more flexibility to work within their schedules to make it easier for them to get through their programs.”

UT has used both its own and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission academic program review systems to evaluate existing academic programs in light of the budget situation, Simek noted. Programs for possible consolidation or elimination will be recommended to the full Board of Trustees for consideration at its June meeting.

Simek also pointed out that the UT System administration budget is being reduced by 10.3 percent “at this initial stage of assessing System expenses.” He said further System budget reductions may come in the future.

“Reasonable tuition increases” are expected to be necessary to help meet expenses. “We would propose to implement those in a staged manner to avoid hitting students with an overly large increase in a single year,” Simek said. “Tuition increase scenarios under review include up to a 7 percent increase at Chattanooga and Martin, and up to a 9 percent increase at Knoxville, which are in accordance with THEC recommendations.”

Other items of discussion:

Progress on articulation agreements between UT and TBR campuses intended to simplify transferring general education credits between systems.

Proceeding with discussions of the sale of the UT President’s residence in Knoxville. Three considerations to be investigated and discussed at the Board’s June meeting:
Appraisal of the property and the possibility of the Board establishing a value / base price.
Number of events typically hosted at the residence and plans or considerations of options for other venues for entertaining University friends, supporters and guests.
Impact of selling the house on the ability to recruit a new president.

UT System administration reorganization — Simek announced plans to have an organizational chart available by June 1 that depicts a new administrative structure with fewer UT vice presidents.

Statewide initiatives being pursued by UT that are the result of federal stimulus funds:
Broadband connectivity for underserved populations
Biomass crop development
Energy and energy conservation
Math and science teacher programs

UT Medical Group -– a consultant’s analysis yielded 31 recommendations for enhancing effectiveness of Memphis-based UT Medical Group. These recommendations and mechanisms “for best dealing with them” will be discussed at the Board’s Audit Committee meeting on Thursday.


Category: Announcements