KNOXVILLE – The University of Tennessee is continuing to find ways to save money by being more effective and efficient with resources, and so far the University has identified initiatives with the potential to save more than $52 million.
The Board of Trustees’ Committee on Effectiveness and Efficiency for the Future (EEF), which spearheaded this effort, received an update on savings during its meeting today. EEF was established by the board in 2008 to establish an ongoing emphasis on practicing the most responsible stewardship of University resources.
UT campuses and institutes have identified 132 activities, many from employee suggestions, to save money. To date, 78 projects have been completed, 44 are in progress and 10 are proposed. These initiatives have been estimated to total UT $52.4 million either in one-time or annual savings.
“As the economy continues to be unpredictable, it is crucial for the University to remain in a cost-conscious mode,” UT President Joe DiPietro said. “Public higher education has had the benefit of stimulus funding over the last two years to bridge a big gap in our state funding, but now we are operating without $112 million, our cut in state appropriations.”
The effective and efficiency initiatives include program consolidations, energy efficiencies, paperless programs, vacant position eliminations, administrative reductions, IT efficiencies, space utilizations, travel reductions, commencement ceremony changes and campus transportation adjustments. A complete listing of these efforts by campus and institute is at http://bot.tennessee.edu/committees/eef/index.html under the heading Measures and Actions.
UT Knoxville is implementing more than 30 cost-cutting measures that are projected to result in a $17.1 million savings. The campus has partnered with TVA EnergyRight Solutions for Business to save on energy costs, and long-term savings could be several million dollars.
The Health Science Center has 18 initiatives that have netted almost $12 million in savings, including the elimination of vacant positions, new purchasing techniques and converting to paperless forms and record-keeping.
The statewide Institute of Agriculture has saved $10.6 million through steps including cutting operating budgets for every unit, offering voluntary retirement incentives, eliminating positions, and converting to more paperless, electronic records and processing systems.
UT Chattanooga has implemented 12 measures, such as using e-statements for student billing, that have resulted in $1.7 million in savings. UT Martin has saved $2.1 million so far through 24 initiatives that include a three-week mini-term between spring and summer semesters called Maymester.
The statewide Institute for Public Service has identified seven efficiency-improvements for $2.5 million in savings, and the UT System administrative body is implementing 20 changes with an almost $7 million savings to date.
“As we look longer term to strategy to cope with continued contraction in the economy, we will continue our effectiveness and efficiency measures, and accountability for the best use of precious resources,” DiPietro said.
The committee also was updated on potential changes that could make the facilities and capital projects review process more efficient, improvements to employee performance reviews and evolving practices in online learning.