UT Balancing Budget Information, Impact On Employees

KNOXVILLE – The University of Tennessee is balancing the need to provide more detailed information about its budget reductions for next year with a genuine concern for the welfare of those impacted by these cuts, UT President John W. Shumaker said Wednesday.

“Since the Governor told us of his plans to recommend a 9 per cent cut in next year-s budget, we have systematically looked at the options that affect students, faculty and academic programs the least,” Shumaker said. “I have consulted regularly with our chancellors and vice presidents as they weighed their alternatives.”

During legislative budget hearings in late March and early April, Shumaker said up to 300 positions could be lost, many of them unfilled. He also told the Senate Education Committee and House Finance Committee that many of the reductions would come through administrative savings and program restructurings like the consolidation of colleges at UT Chattanooga.

Shumaker has been reluctant to identify specific positions targeted for elimination for two reasons.

“We don-t need to put a target on an individual-s back and imply he or she is not a valued employee, when in fact we are making the cuts for financial reasons,” he said. “Also, as positions have become vacant since this planning process started, we have been able to reprogram many of these ‘open’ positions and avoid cutting staff that we might have otherwise terminated.”

Shumaker said the effort to make the budget cuts with the least number of terminations is an on-going process that will continue through the end of the fiscal year. He has talked with the Governor and other state officials about the concept of a voluntary separation plan that would save the University millions of dollars in the years ahead while cushioning the number of individuals terminated.

“We have detailed policies covering reductions-in-force as well as restorations-of-force,” he said. “We also have programs to provide assistance for those who will lose their jobs.”

Shumaker said detailed budget reduction plans from the campuses and institutes are due in the next few weeks to Sylvia Davis, vice president for budget and finance, who will compile a report for him. In addition, he said campuses and institutes would begin issuing termination notices in the next few days, but others could come later as the budget is finalized.

“Even as we issue these notices, we will continue our efforts to place our valued people, either in positions that become open within UT or through our outplacement assistance,” he said. “We shall also continue to evaluate the hundreds of cost savings suggestions we have received and implement as many of them as possible.”