UT raising tuition; job cutbacks announced
Posted: Thursday, June 18, 2009 9:21 pm
By: AP, staff reports
By DUNCAN MANSFIELD
Associated Press Writer
KNOXVILLE (AP) — Uni-versity of Tennessee trustees agreed Wednesday to raise tu-ition at all campuses, eliminate more than 500 jobs over the next two years and trim the UT system’s vice presidents by half in a top-level reorganization.
Some 200 jobs are vacant now, while 300 others will be shifted to federal stimulus funding that will end in 2012. Affected employees will be told in coming days. About two-thirds of them work at the main campus in Knoxville.
“These are going to be tough times, absolutely no question about that,” Acting UT President Jan Simek said.
The trustees approved an $1.8 billion budget for 2009-2010 containing these actions in response to $65 million in state funding reductions blamed on a lousy economy — though the percentage of state funding received by the five-campus 47,000-student university has been shrinking compared to tuition for several years.
Tuition this fall will rise 7 percent at UT-Martin and UT-Chattanooga and 9 percent at UT-Knoxville, the UT College of Law at Knoxville and the UT Space Institute at Tullahoma.
That means a $490 increase in undergraduate tuition at UT-Knoxville to $5,918; a $296 increase to $4,506 at UT-Chattanooga, and a $308 increase to $4,708 at UT-Martin.
Elsewhere, a 10 percent increase will take effect at the UT Health Science Center in Memphis and a 20 percent hike will hit in-state students at the UT College of Veterinary Medicine in Knoxville
Student trustee Tyler Forrest, a junior at UT-Chattanooga, called it a “reasonable increase” after fears of even larger hikes a few months ago before the federal stimulus money became available.
“Students actually initially supported larger increases when we thought the budget was totally down the drain. But lots of groups are pleased with the 7 percent, 9 percent range,” he said. “It is not double-digit and compared to a lot of other state universities, I think we are in a great position.”
Budget documents say UT will reduce its payroll by 546 full-time equivalent positions to a total of 13,939 starting July 1. These are the 200 vacancies that will not be filled and the 300 jobs moving to federal stimulus funding. They include 241 faculty positions and 39 administrative positions.
“We are not talking about tenured professors,” UT-Knoxville Faculty Senate President John Nolt said. “We may be talking about lecturers and maybe some classroom teachers. I have not seen a breakdown of exactly which jobs will be lost, but, of course, there is a concern any time we lose classroom teachers.”
He said all UT professors are being asked to increase their teaching load.
Simek promised “we will preserve the classroom first and foremost,” but added, “at the end of this period, UT will be a different university than it is now. We will be leaner and we will be more efficient.”
Simek said he considered a significant reorganization one of his top challenges as acting president after wide criticism that UT’s central administration had become bloated. The plan he asked the trustees to endorse Wednesday cuts seven of 14 vice presidents — some by dropping their title, some by merging their duties with other offices and two by outright elimination.
This should produce $5.7 million in savings to the university, since 15-20 support staff jobs also will be cut, he said.
The acting president said he will appoint task forces on three areas where executives now report directly to the president — racial diversity, UT-Knoxville athletics and the Institute for Public Service that helps local governments. Simek is considering moving those responsibilities to campus leaders.
During their two-day meeting, trustees heard about the need for greater efficiencies and unrealized savings in many places — from eliminating motor pools to trimming $20 million from information technology services.
Trustee George Cates of Memphis said the campuses now have their marching orders.
“They have got their (trustees’) approval and we are in a hurry,” Cates said. “There are a lot of changes that have to be made over the next three years. This is a university in crisis and the worst thing would be to put anything off.”
Published in The Messenger 6.18.09