What do budget cuts mean for UTSA?

Governor Rick Perry has ordered all public institutions, including universities, to prepare for a five percent cut in their state appropriated budget for the next two years. UTSA president Ricardo Romo said the impending cut, an estimated $9.8 million, will not result in layoffs for UTSA faculty and staff.

“We’re not cutting any services and we’re not cutting staff,” Romo said. “That to me is the most dramatic reaction. I will not contemplate layoffs.”

While several other colleges in the UT system, including UT Austin, have announced they will be laying off faculty and staff in order to satisfy the five percent cut, UTSA Provost Dr. John Frederick explained that UTSA can survive without losing any employees.

“Every year we get a little bit of expanded revenue from the fact that enrollment grows and tuition and fees increase,” Frederick said. “What we are estimating in additional revenues for next year is greater than the $9.8 million, so a lot of the way we are planning on handling the reduction is by using these additional revenues to fill the gap.”

Though no layoffs are expected, Frederick explained that no additional faculty or staff will be hired. With student enrollment projected to grow by two percent next fall, no new hires means more students for the same number of faculty.

Frederick noted that recently most of UTSA’s growth is in student retention, suggesting that upper division classes are likely to experience larger student to faculty ratios.

“Some of the additional revenues that were coming in would have been used to hire additional faculty and staff, and yes, we could certainly use them. Again, we don’t have to cut anyone; we are just foregoing some expansion opportunities,” Frederick said.

Frederick also explained that UTSA could save $3 million by not giving merit raises to professors.

“We want to handle the budget reduction as much as possible by looking at parts of our expenses that we can cut without affecting our core mission, which depends on the employees we have right now,” Frederick said. “We can’t make predictions about the economy, but at least for now we don’t foresee any staff cutbacks.”

Regardless, official action cannot be taken until the Texas legislature meets in 11 months to decide on whether the statewide five percent budget cut should be implemented.

“We have to hold the money in reserve in the event that there is a budget cut, and if there is not or it isn’t as severe as we projected, we might be able to restore some things into the budget,” Frederick said. “Basically, we are in a holding pattern until the legislature acts.”