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UT System schools react to state budget cuts

Texas’ smaller universities are reprioritizing in attempts to deal with massive cuts in their budgets, although state-mandated cuts have not been as severe as were initially expected.

The University of Texas at Arlington expects to lose $10.2 million in state funding over the next two years, although the university has managed to keep $5 million for its nursing program, UTA spokeswoman Kristin Sullivan told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

“Our hope is that it will continue to enable the College of Nursing to expand student capacity,” Sullivan said. The program had 6,600 students during the spring semester

Lawmakers have recommended a $21.7 billion allocation for higher education for the next two years. House Bill 1 recommends that UTA receive $89.4 million in both 2012 and 2013.

“We are going to do everything we can to be efficient and focus on our core mission,” Sullivan said. “Every idea is on the table.”

At the University of North Texas, the cuts were also not as severe as expected, according to the Telegram.

UNT’s recommended general revenue funding was listed at $95.9 million in 2012 and $95.3 million in 2013.

“We are going to do everything we can to be efficient and focus on our core mission,” Sullivan said. “Every idea is on the table.”

Though he is unsure how much his university will lose in the final budget, University of Texas-Pan American president Robert Nelsen said that one of the programs he is trying to protect is work-study.

“Students who do work-study graduate more quickly, have a higher (grade point average), have greater success,” he told the McAllen Monitor. “That’s exactly what (this week’s) budget meeting with my cabinet was dedicated to.”

Nelsen told staff to identify all positions that students can fill instead of outside hires.

“We want more of our direct wages to go to students if possible,” he said. “And we plan to set up an office for student employment … to centralize the whole process and help get students hired.”

The university also has layoffs in the works.

“We do have a list of potential layoffs, but we do not know how many there will be, if any,” he added. “I do not expect it to be even close to 40 … but it all depends on the voluntary separation program.”

The university has offered 203 employees half their annual salary if they leave voluntarily. Forty-five employees have joined the program, saving an estimated $510,310.

“There are nine faculty who accepted it,” Nelsen said. “We will hire temporary one-year emergency (teachers) to fill those areas” and not affect the classroom.

“We also have 84 other vacant positions, and 70 of them will remain vacant,” he added. “All our decisions are based on maintaining flexibility and retaining everyone essential to teaching our students.”

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