KNOXVILLE — The administration of the University of Tennessee System will be smaller and more efficient under preliminary plans announced today by Acting UT President Jan Simek.
Simek presented his plans to the UT Board of Trustees Committee on Effectiveness and Efficiency for the Future.
The proposal is an initial phase in reorganization and ongoing evaluation. The reorganization is intended to help clarify the role of the System, the functions it should perform and the functions better suited for the campuses and units to determine.
“One of the University’s priorities during this changing economic climate is to be leaner, more efficient and less redundant. This proposal is a first stage in reorganizing the System administration,” Simek said.
“This is not about the present structure being good or bad. It’s about having the right structure for the environment we face today. This is an assessment of the functions the System should perform. The bottom line is to have a rational structure.”
Simek stressed the plans are an effort to streamline the System. The proposed FY2010 budget plans include a reduction of nearly $5.4 million for System administration, including cuts of $2.8 million from administrative salaries, $759,126 from benefits, and $1.8 million from operating expenses. Cost savings will more likely be felt at the campus or unit level.
The UT Board of Trustees has been involved throughout the planning process and will continue to be, according to Simek.
“We are working collectively so that trustees have ownership in the proposals and are thus better able to support our direction,” he said.
“Clarifying the structure and organization based on function is the first step. Then we can make budget cuts based on what we know we need.”
The reorganization plans do not require board approval to put into place; however, the board’s support and input is critical.
Under Simek’s proposal, the functions of the UT System will include:
- Academic Affairs and Student Success — coordinates mission statements, strategic plans and admission, progression and retention standards
- General Counsel and Secretary — performs the duties of legal advisor for the Board of Trustees and the University
- Research — supports statewide initiatives
- Finance — oversees budget, finance and capital projects
- Public and Government Relations — overall communications and government relations at state and federal levels and for the Institute for Public Service
- Development and Alumni — coordinates fundraising and alumni programs
- Human Resources — oversees policy and guidelines
“These functions are what we believe are needed to support the core mission of the University, which is education, research and outreach. We will concentrate our resources in those areas,” Simek said.
The functions of two vice presidents’ offices will be eliminated, redistributed within the System administration or delegated to the campuses. Those include:
- Science and Technology — Created to strengthen the partnership between UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, this position has successfully fulfilled its purpose.
- Strategic Planning and Operations — Strategic planning functions will shift to Academic Affairs while operations such as motor pool, purchasing and records management will be shifted to the campuses.
In addition, the title of vice president will be dropped from five positions. In those cases, the title of vice president is seen as not necessary to the function of the position:
- Chief Human Resources Officer
- Chief Information Officer (The current officer was hired without the vice president title.)
- UT Health Science Center Chancellor (Title had included Vice President for Health Affairs)
The proposed reorganization reflects input from the president’s staff, developed in individual meetings Simek had with each vice president. “Remarkable consistency” occurred in the feedback and recommendations received, Simek said.
Ongoing evaluations will study the functions of the Institute for Public Service and the Office of Equity and Diversity, and the role of the System in overseeing athletics at UT Knoxville.
“All of these are functions that are important to our mission, and we want to review how they are positioned to maximize their contributions and success,” Simek said.
The new structure would go into effect July 1.
The UT System oversees campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin; the Health Science Center in Memphis, the Space Institute in Tullahoma, the Institute of Public Service and the Institute of Agriculture.