KNOXVILLE — Cuts of $38 million from the University of Tennessee’s budget will result in the elimination of 287 positions statewide and 228 fewer proposed class sections in Knoxville, affecting up to 9,000 students.
UT President John W. Shumaker said Monday all UT departments will feel the impact of the 9 percent reduction in state funding. Maintaining quality in academic programs and student services was given the highest priority in building next year’s budget, he said.
“We attempted to shelter students, faculty and academic programs to the greatest extent possible in making these reductions,” Shumaker said. “Since most everything we do ultimately relates to students and faculty, it is impossible to cut this much from the budget without it being felt.”
Forty-seven of the positions being eliminated are filled, but UT officials continue to work to place these individuals in other jobs. More than 30 employees who would have been laid off have been placed in other jobs.
“These numbers will continue to change between now and the start of the new fiscal year,” Shumaker said. “They also do not include personnel cuts resulting from changes in state contracts.”
Technology support for academic departments is being cut at all campuses, and aging UT facilities across the state will continue to deteriorate from lack of routine maintenance, he said. Over the past 20 years, inadequate state capital and maintenance allocations have resulted in an accumulated need of at least $500 million in renovations, he said.
“Unattended maintenance and building upkeep results in increasing expenses, and we are concerned about potential safety issues as projects go unattended,” Shumaker said.
Staff continue to take on heavier workloads due to these cuts with no commensurate reduction of services, he said.
In Knoxville, 57 faculty positions will remain vacant next year, resulting in the loss of the 228 classes and 9,120 class seats, Provost Loren Crabtree said.
Twelve of the 57 new hires would have been at the UT-Oak Ridge National Laboratory Joint Institute for Computational Sciences. ORNL was to have created an equal number of institute positions.
“The inability of the university to fund these positions will seriously hamper the development of the nation’s large-scale computing capability, which is critical to understanding the global environment and to coping with world-wide terrorism,” Crabtree said.
The Health Science Center will delay the start of a doctoral level program in physical therapy, and the center’s recruiting of students in allied health and nursing will be reduced.
Cuts at UT-Chattanooga will result in only having two full-time and one part-time student counselors available to the campus’ 8,500 students. Not filling vacant faculty positions at UTC creates larger classes and heavier faculty workloads. UTC is also phasing-out the Occupational Therapy degree program with the most recently admitted students graduating at the end of 2004.
UT-Martin is keeping 12 faculty positions unfilled, and students will have more difficulty scheduling classes in computer science, mathematics, biology and other disciplines. UTM also has eliminated its women’s track program, decreasing athletic opportunities for students.
On the Knoxville campus, more than $900,000 will be saved next year by having students rather than the university pay the 2.5 percent credit card surcharge on tuition and room and board charges. This will allow 100 percent of tuition and fee payments to be applied to academic and student support programs.
UT in Knoxville will delay replacing classroom and laboratory equipment purchases, saving approximately $500,000. Closing the Advanced Internet Technology unit, which Crabtree said presents a potential loss of grant and contract funding, will save another $325,000.
The Institute of Agriculture has eliminated 17 vacant posts from its 280 agricultural extension field positions and 19 in agricultural research support.
Dr. Jack Britt, vice president of the Institute of Agriculture, said those cuts “severely impact the delivery of educational programs and decrease our ability to generate external funding.”