By Ralph K.M. Haurwitz | AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Monday, Oct. 25, 2010
Faculty members at the University of Texas said Monday that they want to be in the loop on budget decisions, especially during the sort of tough financial times the university is currently facing.
A resolution adopted by the Faculty Council called for "significant" faculty involvement in budget matters and expressed concern about low-paid faculty members, staff members and graduate students serving as teaching assistants, who collectively have accounted for scores of layoffs in the past year or so.
"I think it's highly variable," Dean Neikirk , chairman of the council and a professor of electrical and computer engineering, said of faculty involvement in budget discussions at UT's colleges, schools and other units. He said the council is planning to survey the various units to gauge faculty members' roles.
Budgeting has been primarily the province of the business office and the president, provost, the deans and other top officials. Steven Leslie, the executive vice president and provost, told the Faculty Council that he wants to increase faculty involvement and the transparency of deliberations.
"We're working to try to figure out how to do that," Leslie said.
Among the questions are whether each academic unit should make its own arrangements or whether a common approach should be adopted. Alan Cline , a professor of computer sciences, said faculty members had more say on budget matters 25 years ago than they do now. Neikirk said he'd like to establish a structure that assures faculty involvement at the beginning of universitywide budget discussions.
Like other public universities in Texas, UT has been instructed by Gov. Rick Perry and legislative leaders to prepare plans for a 10 percent reduction in state funding. Lawmakers will make the final call when they meet next year.
UT President William Powers Jr. has warned that a 10 percent cut would require the elimination of 600 faculty and staff jobs in the next two years or so. That would be on top of positions already shed as a result of a previously imposed 5 percent cut in state funding.