Open Forum for UT Knoxville Faculty and Staff on April 13

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To: UT Knoxville Faculty and Staff
From: Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek
Subject: Open Forum for Faculty and Staff on April 13

During the past several months, I’ve been working closely with the vice chancellors to strategically prepare for the fiscal 2011 and 2012 years.

Throughout these discussions, our goal has remained the same – to preserve quality, lessen the impact on students, faculty and staff and to best position UT for the future.

I plan to share more information about the budget by hosting an open forum at 1 p.m. Tuesday, April 13, in the Shiloh Room of the University Center. I will begin the session with a brief overview and save most of the time for your questions.

In the next few months, the legislature will finalize the state’s budget. The UT Board of Trustees will consider our FY 2011-2012 budget at their annual meeting in June. We are working on recommendations to prepare the university for and help delay the impact of a nearly 30 percent or $54 million reduction in state appropriations during the past three years.

While the stimulus has helped delay the pain of the state budget cut, we are dealing with the realities of how to fulfill our core mission once they occur. We have plans in place to deal with these reductions, but it will be painful.

As you know, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided UT Knoxville with $101 million. This one time allocation gave us more time to implement reduction plans. All stimulus funds must be spent by June 30, 2011. Although there are spending restrictions, this funding delayed the impact of the state’s budget shortfall for this and next fiscal year.

Thank you for your patience, commitment, and hard work during what has been a difficult time for the university, the state and, of course, our nation. We know there is significant and understandable concern among all who care about the university – alumni, donors, faculty, staff and students.

Since I began serving last February, I have continued to be impressed by so many people that clearly demonstrate their commitment to preserving the quality of our great institution. This shared focus already has paid off as our community has helped to reduce our energy consumption by more than 10 percent over the past year, saving more than $1 million. Also many thoughtful ideas from employees are helping to improve the way we do business and reduce our bottom line throughout campus.

We know there is a long road ahead that will involve more difficult decisions. There are several challenges that we face in the coming year. The greatest will be sustaining positive momentum in all we do and maintaining an optimistic view of our future in light of our present budget circumstances. It is critical that we continue to innovate and think creatively about how to fulfill our mission in this tough economic environment.

We have a tremendous faculty, staff, alumni and student body, and we must capitalize on those resources as we move forward. With your help, we can be well prepared and make sure that we do what is best for our students, our dedicated faculty and staff, as well as the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Thank you for all you contribute to our mission. I appreciate your work and your commitment.

Please RSVP to beth.gladden@tennessee.edu if you plan to attend the open forum on April 13.

I look forward to talking with you on April 13.

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