Year-End Budget Update
Friday, December 10, 2010
Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:
As the fall semester and 2010 draw to a close, I want to pause briefly to thank you for a truly outstanding and successful year and to update you on the University’s budget situation and the challenges we anticipate in the months ahead.
We have shared numerous successes and milestones this year:
We welcomed our largest and most academically prepared class of students ever.
We welcomed 75 new faculty members to our ranks from some of the most prestigious institutions in the nation.
We opened University College in Ransom Hall, which has been an overnight success with our students.
We excelled in generating externally funded research projects, with total research expenditures exceeding $63 million.
We more than doubled our philanthropic support to $15.2 million.
We began construction on College Park Center and the 20-acre College Park District and completed construction of The Green at College Park.
We completed construction—under budget and ahead of schedule—on the crown jewel of our academic facilities, the Engineering Research Building.
Each of these achievements, and many others, plays a significant role in our core mission to serve our students and help them achieve their goals—including graduation. These accomplishments also fuel our momentum to become a major national research university. The next few years will be critical as we maintain our commitment to continue the transformation that is well under way.
While we have so many accomplishments to celebrate and so much to be proud of, the state of Texas continues to face sobering budget challenges that directly affect UT Arlington. Earlier this week, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Speaker of the House directed all state agencies, including state universities, to plan on an additional reduction of 2.5 percent in funding for the current fiscal year to address the state’s budget shortfall. This is in addition to the 5 percent reduction the University already has absorbed this year. We will keep you advised as to how the University will meet this new mandate.
When we return to work and classes after the holiday break, the 82nd Session of the Texas Legislature will be upon us. As has been widely reported, the state is facing a daunting budget deficit that has been estimated as high as $25 billion. While we know it’s not the Legislature’s desire to put our colleges and universities at a disadvantage, the reality is that we will be expected to absorb much of the additional revenue reductions.
As the legislative process begins, we are likely to witness a wide range of budget scenarios out of Austin, in the media, from special interest groups, and elsewhere. Some of them will be doomsday scenarios. Regardless of the initial rumblings and worst-case scenarios we hear, we should be prepared for a long haul. We can expect an extended legislative session, and many are predicting at least one special session. Our challenge will be to remain focused on the facts and not be distracted by exaggerated reports and speculation.
In the weeks and months ahead, the University will develop a series of contingency budget plans for the 2012‑2013 biennium based on various possible funding outcomes in the legislative session. It’s important to remember that these contingency plans do not represent final decisions. They are, however, an important way for us to evaluate the options we may have to face in the months ahead.
While the impact of further state revenue reductions will be serious, we must not allow it to be overwhelming. Our institution has benefited from responsible and conservative budgeting for many years now and is on sound financial footing. We have invested, and will continue to invest, in initiatives that benefit our students, support our faculty and staff, and advance our strategic priorities.
Clear, consistent, and open communication is essential during challenging times. We will communicate regularly with our faculty, staff, and students regarding our budget situation. We will do this through periodic e‑mail messages from me and through informational meetings with faculty, staff, and students. Additionally, I invite anyone who wants to verify information or ask a question to e-mail me at email@example.com or Provost Don Bobbitt at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will respond quickly with the latest information available.
Finally, I want to assure you that no decisions are being made in a vacuum. Provost Bobbitt and I are fully engaged with those throughout the University to be certain we’re all working in concert. We are indeed fortunate to have such a dedicated and thoughtful leadership team at UT Arlington.
Many thanks for all that you do to make UT Arlington a stronger university with each passing day. I wish each of you a happy, safe, and peaceful holiday season.
James D. Spaniolo