(Aug. 12, 2014) --UTSA leaders have finalized a budget for the coming fiscal year that will maintain academic excellence and initiatives that promote student achievement, but will require some cost-saving measures in other areas.
The university will experience a tight operating budget for fiscal year 2015 because of last year's decline in student enrollment, which resulted in $7 million less in tuition revenues. This deficit was primarily addressed by shifting funds from other discretionary sources. However, much of the remaining discretionary funds will now be needed to cover essential operating costs, including utilities.
At the same time, the university faces other budget demands -- some of which are met without state reimbursement. One example is the Hazlewood Act. Each year, the university foregoes some $10 million in tuition and fees under the act to provide educational opportunities to the families of active and retired military members. To date, it has foregone some $40 million under this program.
UTSA is committed to Texas military families and supporting veterans’ programs into the future. In the next session of the Legislature, the university will work with state lawmakers on ways to accomplish this goal while best addressing Hazlewood’s future financial commitments.
The FY2015 budget will require the university to be more efficient at managing costs. As part of this effort, a merit increase for UTSA faculty, staff and administrators will not be included in the coming fiscal year.
The university has historically awarded merit pay increases to faculty and staff to recognize their dedication to students -- even in years when other UT institutions did not. This has also had the effect of keeping UTSA salaries on par with other leading universities across Texas. The university will continue to recognize staff and faculty excellence through promotions and tenure, and merit increases will be restored when the budget permits.
Meanwhile, university leaders are working to identify potential new revenue sources for the future.
Despite the temporary fiscal constraints, the university's priorities continue to be recruiting top faculty and students, offering transformative learning experiences and conducting impactful research.
Additionally, insights gained from last year's enrollment dip have already led to successful new recruitment initiatives for freshmen, transfer and graduate students. A record freshman enrollment is likely at UTSA this fall, and class rankings are expected to equal or exceed last year's, when 68 percent of freshmen were in the top 25 percent of their high school graduating class, and 90 percent were ranked in the top half.
The promise of a top-tier educational experience will continue to attract the best and brightest students. That experience comes from the extraordinary faculty in the classrooms and labs and UTSA staff with their unwavering commitment to serving students.
The challenges presented by the FY2015 budget will not distract from the collective focus of the university. Everyone makes a difference in the lives of students. This is one of the key reasons why UTSA is destined to be a Tier One university.
UTSA prides itself on giving students a well-rounded education. Combining a top-tier academic program with opportunities for personal growth prepares students to compete in a global economy. And that's not all. They learn to be informed and engaged citizens as well. At the heart of that academic program is an award-winning core curriculum.
For four consecutive years, UTSA has received an A-rating from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni for the caliber of its core curriculum. According to ACTA, UTSA requires its students to take six of the seven courses deemed "crucial" to a well-rounded education: composition, literature, U.S. government or history, economics, mathematics and science. Only a handful of other institutions in the U.S. are giving students these tools, which are needed to succeed in careers and the community.
Did you know? UTSA is one of only three Texas institutions and 23 in the United States to receive the highest rating for its core curriculum in the 2014-2015 edition of the ACTA's "What Will They Learn?" report.
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