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Friday, May 20, 2022

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Admin keeps flagship sights


A bill currently being proposed within the Texas House of Representatives will cut UH’s state funding by almost 20 percent, or $65 million, if passed. A companion bill in the Senate has reductions at 16 percent.

Special Report
Budget cuts

Every Thursday, The Daily Cougar will take an in-depth look at how proposed cuts to the state’s higher education allocation will affect the University and its future.

Feb. 17: Tier One initiative

Feb. 24: Staff terminations

March 3: Athletics programs

March 10: The role of community colleges

March 24: Public vs. private debate

March 31: Financial aid

Track this series and find expanded resources on thedailycougar.com/budgetcuts2011

“The proposed House budget is an absolutely drastic reduction,” Khator said. “It means losing the funding for 7,000 students or closing down five colleges, offering 1,000 fewer courses or employing 300 fewer faculty.”

Khator said the University may not enact those measures but simply offers them as examples of how a $65 million budget reduction would impact UH.

A decline in state funding for higher education has been occurring over the past 30 years.

Currently, the University operates with only 26 percent of its funding coming from the state, a 34 percent drop from the 59 percent it once received in 1981.

A 5 percent budget cut during fiscal year 2010-2011 resulted in a $15 million loss in state funds. If subtracted from the proposed $65 million, UH is looking at a $50 million loss for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, or a $25 million reduction for each year.

Welcome Wilson, a UH System Regent and chair of the University’s ‘Drive to Tier One initiative,’ said the University is ready to make the necessary cuts to ensure it achieves Tier One status.

“We are preparing to cut, and we have made cuts,” Wilson said in a Houston Chronicle article. “We’ve cut a number of programs and we’re going to lobby for our fair share, but the University is making the cuts that are needed.”

UH is in the process of making cost-saving moves that will allow it to continue its path towards flagship status and join The University of Texas Austin and Texas A&M University as the only public flagship universities in Texas.

“The University is working hard to identify areas that reflect a duplication of services or programs,” Provost John Antel, senior vice president for Academic Affairs, said. “We are compiling a list of possible actions that we can evaluate and consider, and part of the review process involves identifying actions with proven, quantifiable results that do not violate state rules or compromise the mission of UH.”

Amid the drop in state funding, the University is starting to make a change from an academic model to a business one with the notion that it will increase value and make up for the decrease in state funding.

“With state funding at 60 percent, we looked and operated like a state agency,” Antel said. “But now the goal of moving toward a business model is to increase efficiencies, while lowering costs and maintaining our commitment to educational opportunity.”

Khator said the University is doing everything possible to bring more efficiency, effectiveness and consolidation into the University’s business operation, and said the University has been moving in that direction following two previous budget cuts.

“Our goal is to be nationally competitive and to serve Texas in the best capacity,” Khator said. “And that goal is non-negotiable.”

In January, UH was categorized by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a research university with “very high research activity”. It is the highest classification given to research universities and is one of the benchmarks of a flagship institution.

“We are already operating on a very lean budget, but our commitment to achieving Tier One status is unwavering as evidence by our new Carnegie ranking for research,” Antel said. “We will continue to prioritize and make decisions that will enhance our academic programs and graduation rates.”

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