Budget, Hiring, Enrollment Top UT Board Meeting

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — State-funded building projects totaling more than $150 million were approved Friday by the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees.

The board also heard reports from UT President Wade Gilley about a system-wide administrative hiring freeze and a possible enrollment cap at UT-Knoxville.

Capital building projects approved Friday include, by campus:

UT-Chattanooga — $28 million for an engineering, math, and computer science facility.

UT Institute of Agriculture — $12.4 million for the regional headquarters facility; $11.9 million for Brehm Animal Science Building.

UT-Knoxville — $20 million to renovate Glocker Business Building; $13.4 million for renovations of Estabrook Hall and $14.8 million for Ayres Hall; $9.3 million for relocation requirements for a bridge linking the main and agriculture campuses in Knoxville.

UT-Martin — $10.7 million for a fine arts addition.

UT-Memphis — $29 million for the College of Pharmacy building.

The proposals for fiscal year 2001 will be submitted to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the governor and the legislature.

In other board business, UT President Wade Gilley said a continued system-wide hiring freeze and an enrollment cap at UT-Knoxville are likely, with or without increased state funding.

Gilley told the board that growth in UT-Knoxville enrollment — which topped 26,000 this fall — is too fast and may erode the quality of education.

“We could have an additional 5,000 students within about five years, yet we do not have enough resources for the ones enrolled now,” Gilley said.

“Even if the operating budget was better funded by the state, the facilities here are just not planned or in place to accommodate another 5,000 students that quickly.”

Gilley also said budget concerns have prompted a hiring freeze on non-academic jobs, which is not likely to be lifted even if the state allocates more money for operating expenses.

“An enrollment cap, a freeze on employment, and downsizing administration are things we must seriously consider,” Gilley said. “We probably would have to consider them even if we do get the money we need from the state. Our structural deficit in funding has been accumulating for 10 years.”

Gilley said the hiring freeze does not apply to faculty, computing, library and student positions, and those paid by auxiliary operations, such as the university bookstore and residence halls.