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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Faculty & Staff

Reduction plan raises concerns


Faculty Senate President Mark Clarke | Daily Cougar file photo

The Faculty Senate discussed the 5 percent budget reduction plan implemented by Gov. Rick Perry in depth at Wednesday’s meeting.

“The timeline for this has been very short,” Faculty Senate President Mark Clarke said.

The state of Texas told its universities that they would be facing a budget cut in mid January, but specifics were released only a week ago.

“We started working on this last summer because we saw this coming,” Provost John Antel said.

Clarke said the plan published on the UH Budget Office Web site was just a draft that was required to go to the state. He would like to see the Senate strongly encourage the faculty to provide input in order to form a more detailed plan.

“Budget reductions will be targeted, and it will be made in a strategic way. They should not be across the board,” Clarke said.

UH President Renu Khator attended the meeting and she said she doesn’t agree with the state’s budget reductions.

“If you noticed the survey that was recently published in the Houston Chronicle, it shows that public opinion says (the budget) should not be cut in higher education,” Khator said.

The budget currently includes the reduction of 83 UH staff positions, made possible by hiring freezes, elimination of vacant positions, retirements and layoffs. Other affected areas include energy and special items, such as research.

“These are by no means good solutions … it’s focused on things driven by state appropriated dollars,” Executive Vice Chancellor Carl Carlucci said.

Instructional faculty was the only group passed from this plan.

At the meeting, Khator reiterated the Board of Regents’ nine-point program to reach flagship status. Khator said the most important point to implement is a fresh attitude toward students.

“We may be a commuter school, but our service and attitude should not be of commuting nature,” she said.

Khator also mentioned that she believes increasing the graduation rate would help move the needle on student success. UH’s graduation rate of 42 percent falls well below the state average of 52 percent.

The next scheduled Faculty Senate meeting will be held following the Spring Faculty Assembly on March 24. The meeting will be held at the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Pavilion in the M.D. Anderson Memorial Library.

A more detailed discussion on possible solutions for the budget cuts will take place.

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