I recently received a copy of this email that was sent from the office of William Powers Jr., the President of the University of Texas-Austin, to all UT faculty and staff.
The University Budget Council and I have reviewed the budget for the coming fiscal year in light of the current economy and the actions of the 81st Legislature. The University of Texas at Austin has fared better than many universities in other states. We do not face pay cuts, mandatory furloughs, and other austerity measures that peer institutions across the country are experiencing. In fact, our sources of funding will grow modestly next year and would allow for a balanced status-quo budget. But in light of what is happening elsewhere, this is an opportunity to advance the university rather than settle for the status quo. For us to move ahead, however, we must focus our available resources in areas that have consistently been identified as the most critical for progress-our competitiveness in attracting and retaining outstanding faculty and graduate students.
For this reason, we have made the difficult decision to forgo staff raises in the next fiscal year for both classified and administrative and professional (A&P) staff. We all recognize the valuable contribution the staff makes to our University and that this is disappointing news. (As I notified you previously, the salaries of University of Texas System officials and presidents, as well as our campus's vice presidents, deans, and senior administrators, were frozen last February until August 31, 2010.) By strategic use of our limited resources, we will be able to address urgent issues of faculty competitiveness, equity, and salary compression. Faculty salary increases will be narrowly targeted-not uniform.
I believe that we must continue to strive to become the nation's best public university-in good times and in bad. This plan will keep us on that path. With your help, and the prudent management of our resources, we will succeed.
My questions include the following:
- If the University of Texas is doing as well as Powers would have its employees believe, what rationale supports the decision to freeze staff raises just in case?
- If this decision is an effort to get UT in front of the curve, how much money does the University expect to save through this move, and what are the plans for allocating that money?
- Why is staff salary frozen while faculty are still eligible to receive merit increases? If belt-tightening is underway, shouldn't it be more fairly distributed?
- Aren't some of the so-called "austerity measures" being undertaken at other universities intended to cut the fact that made sense during flush times and make less sense given the current budget crisis?
- What do UT affiliates--faculty, staff, students and alumni--think about this and other budget-related decisions made by the university?
I'd love to hear from anyone who can help me answer these questions. You can post anonymously to this blog, but if you want an added promise of anonymity, you can email me directly at jennamcjenna(at)gmail.com. I guarantee to keep your identity private.