UT System Administration realigns priorities, reduces staffing for improved efficiency, service to institutions
AUSTIN— The University of Texas System is shrinking the size of its administrative headquarters staff, improving alignment and restructuring priorities to better serve UT’s 14 academic and health institutions.
Through a multi-pronged approach over the past six months, the UT System Administration has eliminated 115 full-time-equivalent employee (FTE) positions.
“We are committed to providing the absolute highest level of service to UT institutions, offering critical support and assistance, while at the same time remaining vigilant stewards of state funds,” said Chancellor William H. McRaven. “I am both impressed with and grateful for the passion and commitment of UT System Administration staff, who are proud to serve UT students, faculty and staff. Our staff members at UT System headquarters have shown they are willing to be nimble, innovative and flexible in their efforts to serve UT and the state of Texas.”
Last fall, the Board of Regents approved the 2017 UT System Administration operating budget with instructions to reduce the number of FTEs by at least 130 positions. Since then, steps have been taken to meet the objective while continuing to provide and even enhance the System Administration’s critical services.
Administration leaders immediately began by reviewing vacant positions, ultimately eliminating approximately 50 of them. A soft hiring freeze was put in place, limiting new hires to key positions that supported highest priority goals. Also, a Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP) resulted in 56 employees opting to separate by May 31.
When Governor Greg Abbott announced in January a hiring freeze for positions supported by state-appropriated funds, all vacant positions funded by the Available University Fund were carefully examined and many eliminated.
This spring, realizing additional cuts were necessary, the UT System Administration eliminated 10 additional, currently-filled positions. The impacted employees are receiving assistance from the UT System Human Resources Office as they begin the process of seeking new opportunities.
“Change is always difficult, but it is a constant in dynamic organizations such as the UT System Administration,” said Deputy Chancellor David Daniel. “We must maintain our ability to adapt to shifting priorities, expanding or contracting as needed and adjusting our mix of capabilities to meet the most pressing needs and priorities.”
UT System leaders are also exploring options to further reduce the size of administration staff by transferring some services to the institutions or a third party. According to McRaven, any transfer of services should result in better or more cost-effective services to the System or the institutions and, if possible, expand career opportunities for affected employees.
In fact, the System reduced its FTE count by 48.25 this week, when the UT System Board of Regents approved returning campus audit functions back to seven academic campuses, rather than having those auditors report directly to UT System. The board also voted to allocate $15.4 million to the affected campuses (UT Arlington, UT Dallas, UT El Paso, UT Permian Basin, UT Rio Grande Valley, UT San Antonio, and UT Tyler) from the Permanent University Fund (PUF) to offset associated costs for a three-year period.
The auditors previously reported directly to the institutions but became UT System employees—though still remained physically on their campuses—in August 2014.
“We believe this is the right decision for UT institutions and for the System Administration,” said Regents Chairman Paul Foster. “We will always seek innovative ways to provide essential and enhancing services to UT institutions, and that also means being dynamic enough to adjust and realign as priorities and other environmental factors warrant them.
“By providing more than $15 million in PUF allocations, the affected institutions can apply those funds to specific capital projects already planned or in the works, and redirect institutional funds to cover the cost of the auditors. Our goal is to ensure this move only benefits, not burdens, the institutions.”
About The University of Texas System
Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking basic, applied and clinical research, and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States. With 14 institutions and an enrollment of more than 228,000 students, the UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates approximately two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public institutions in Texas. The UT System’s operating budget for FY 2017 is $17.9 billion, including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With more than 20,000 faculty – including Nobel laureates and many members of the National Academies – and nearly 80,000 health care professionals, researchers, student advisors and support staff, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.