Friday, February 5, 2010
To the University Community:
We have been fortunate that the economic downturn that has affected so many areas of the country has not been as severe here in Texas—and particularly in North Texas.
As this recession wears on, it now affects us all, including UT Arlington. Thus, we must now consider necessary measures that will ensure the long-term financial health and well-being of the University.
Governor Rick Perry, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, and Speaker of the House Joe Straus recently directed all state agencies, including state universities, to reduce expenditures by 5 percent for the current biennium (2009-2010 and 2010-2011). We must address this mandate.
I want to assure everyone in the University community that we will be thoughtful and judicious as we begin to make some tough decisions during the weeks and months ahead.
We have major challenges ahead of us right now.
Through careful stewardship of our resources, the University is positioned to absorb the 5 percent budget reduction for the current fiscal year. We are in the process, however, of developing plans to account for the 5 percent reduction in state funding for next fiscal year. While this will not be easy, we look at this as an opportunity to develop creative and innovative solutions that will help streamline our operations and gain efficiencies across the University. It will require a commitment from all schools, colleges, and administrative units to review operations from a fresh perspective.
The University has been in a cost-reduction mode for more than a year. For instance, since November 2008, we have implemented a University-wide flexible hiring freeze, a salary freeze for vice presidents and deans through August 2010, and stricter guidelines for University travel and other discretionary expenses. We must now take a more critical look at how we allocate, spend, and invest our resources in every area of the University.
Our intent is to be responsive to the directive from state leadership to reduce operating costs. However, we will do this without compromising the momentum we have gained in recent years. UT Arlington is on an aggressive trajectory to become a major national research university during the next decade, and we will not take any actions that could undermine those plans.
I also want to assure you that our overarching priority will be to maintain—actually to enhance—essential instructional services and support for our students in light of robust enrollment growth. Our commitment to provide an affordable, first-rate education is unwavering. It is equally imperative that we continue to make strategic investments to recruit and retain outstanding faculty who will help strengthen our academic enterprise. Likewise, we will continue to invest in the construction and renovation of facilities and infrastructure that are central to our mission and goals.
Over the next few years, we will be a leaner, more focused, more efficient university—one that is positioned to effectively marshal the necessary resources to become a major national research university.
During the next few weeks, we will share more information and provide further direction on next steps.
I will continue to keep you updated on our progress. And, as always, I welcome your ideas and input. Please feel free to write me at email@example.com.
Thank you for all that you do for our university.
James D. Spaniolo