UH administration predicts tight budget
As the new year approaches, UH is preparing to address the state-mandated budget cuts for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, which will be discussed in greater detail when the Texas Legislature meets in January.
UH has been told to expect a 10 percent budget cut, but also that it could rise to as much as 20 percent. However, UH officials said the University is committed to ensuring economic efficiency, attaining flagship and keeping its place as one of the top research-oriented universities in Texas.
“The University is working hard to identify areas that reflect a duplication of services or programs,” Director of Media Relations Richard Bonnin said in an e-mail interview. “Strategic cuts in those situations will not adversely affect UH’s drive to flagship. It also will take the efforts of everyone to help us cope with these difficult economic times.”
President Renu Khator started a website to generate cost-saving ideas from students, staff and faculty. Provost John Antel said the University is looking for fresh, new suggestions on how to deal in a time of economic stress.
“Part of the review process involves identifying actions with proven, quantifiable results that do not violate state rules or compromise the mission of UH,” Antel said.
Antel also addressed the current lack of funding to the University from the state, and the increase in private funding makes the University function like a private university.
“Over the past 30 years, our state funding has dropped from about 60 percent to only 26 percent, and we know that further reductions are coming,” Antel said. “With state funding at 60 percent, we looked and operated like a state agency. The reality is that if we are funded at 80 percent or more from non-state funds, we will look and operate more like a private university, while maintaining our commitment to educational opportunity.”
As of now, Bonnin said UH does not plan to implement additional layoffs as a result of the budget deficit, but the “really hard discussions” will begin in January when the Texas Legislature meets and discusses specific components of the University that will be affected by worst-case scenarios.
“To comply with the new state-mandated budget cuts for this fiscal year, we are going to be looking for cash to return to the state, fund balances and reserves,” Bonnin said. “We will have conversations about furloughs and other actions that will produce cash, but we will not be looking for program or personnel reductions as part of this cut.”
To contribute a cost-saving or money-generating idea to the University, students faculty or staff can visit the UH website and search for Khator’s budget discussion.