University of Texas unveils cost-cutting plan


by JESSICA VESS / KVUE News & Photojournalist KENNETH NULL

Bio | Email | Follow: @JessicaV_KVUE

Posted on January 29, 2013 at 12:07 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 29 at 12:41 PM

AUSTIN -- The University of Texas is looking to trim some expenses.

In the new report “Smarter Systems for a Greater UT”, facts show the campus could generate up to $490 million in savings over the next 10 years without negatively impacting teaching and research.
On Tuesday morning UT President William Powers unveiled how the cost cutting measures would unfold.
Powers says he relied on the work of a 13-member committee which he appointed in April of last year. The group developed three broad recommendations.
  • The first calls on President Powers to consolidate business and administrative functions. Sharing services could save roughly $200 million over 10 years.
  • The second measure focuses on licensing new technology generated on campus. Doing so could improve the commercialization of those technologies. 
  • Lastly the group recommends dissecting assets on campus and cutting out the extras. Selling excess power, for example, could bring in $16 million. While outsourcing services such as food, housing and parking could save even more.
“Why do this? One reason of course is to keep a UT degree as affordable as possible for our students and their families. But another is to free up resources to continue on our path to become the best public university in America. This time it’s not just to balance the budget,” said President Powers.
Recently the campus made budget cuts totaling $47 million a year. President Powers described those changes, which included reforming undergraduate curriculum, as painful. He went on to explain that the measures proposed in “Smarter Systems for a Greater UT” won’t be easy either. Some require upfront investments. Powers admits they may not be worth the cost.
“We need to be careful, but we should be making conscious decisions about what we are doing,” said Powers.
The overall impact to students and faculty on campus is yet to be determined.
“Our staff will naturally want to know in plain English, ‘What will all of this do to my job?’” acknowledged Powers. “The answer may be that their job will remain, but in a different building or with a new supervisor or in a different structure. For some it may even be off campus.”
Students may also feel a change depending upon changes to the campus services.
“The possibility of outsourcing certain function(s) and the rates we charge for services is controversial,” said Powers. “Housing and food rates are part of the cost for our students.”
President Powers is appointing UT's Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Kevin Hegarty to dig into the report and determine exactly what is worth the time and expense.