Budget Suggestions as of 2-21-2022

224 Administration Building

Martin, TN 38238

(731) 881-7805

Fax:

(731) 881-7967

Em:

Carol Williams, Director


Budget Suggestions as of 2-21-2022

Below are the budget concerns submitted through February, 2022 with the responses.  Please note that the questions are unedited and appear exactly as submitted.  If this does not fully address your concern, please provide feedback through the Budget Suggestion link.

 


 

Follow the Board Policy for Annual Performance-and-Planning Review for merit pay and performance-based salary adjustments instead of equal raise or none. The current implementation of the equal or none raise disregards the value of APP review and discourages those who work hard and encourages all to hold a minimum commitment to university success and thus to lower enrollment and budget issues like the current one we're all in

 

Response:  The current distribution plan for raises has not been finalized, and these comments will be shared with those making this year’s plan.

 


 

"Is there a budget for sidewalk improvements? When entering Lot 15 from Lovelace Ave--heading directly toward the College of Business and Global Affairs--there is only the road and four parallel parking spaces.

 

Students are often walking in the ""street"" here because there is no sidewalk. This seems dangerous and unprofessional.

 

A sidewalk on the left (south) side of the ""street"" for this short distance would be ideal.

 

Also, the sidewalk along Lovelace street between Lot 14 and Lot 15 looks like something from the 1940's. It should be improved (raised and redone), as well.

 

A designated 'crossing zone' from Lot 15 directly into the CBGA would also be nice. It could easily match up with the handicap-accessible sidewalk there.

 

Thank you for your consideration."

 

Response: 

 

We don’t own the sidewalks along the city streets (such as Lovelace Street).  They are owned by the city of Martin.  We are constantly reviewing sidewalks and making improvements as funds allow (roughly $20,000 per year).  These comments have also been shared with the consultants conducting our Master Plan to be included in their pedestrian traffic analysis.

 


 

"I think there could be a lot of cost savings by having a 4 day work week in the summer at least. Saving on electricity, etc. for sure!

 

This item is being reviewed by the Chancellor’s Cabinet.

 


 

The Centers----why is the Jackson Center still open? There are literally barely any students there. I think the Centers being separated from Academic Affairs is crazy, but we are paying for center directors and staff, rent, electricity, etc. for some of the centers that are simply not productive. Their location needs to be assessed for if there is truly a need in that area (we are not competitive in the Jackson market due to U of M, Union, etc. )

 

Pending:  Provost Cavalier

 


 

I think it is very unwise to start any ""cutting"" of budgets with faculty. If we don't have faculty to deliver programs, we don't have a university. You can have all the student affairs and staff and ballgames, etc you want but without faculty there is no university."

 

Pending:  Provost Cavalier

 


 

"This is anonymous but possibly easily traceable and that's okay. The theatre budget has not changed in decades while the costs of materials to produce plays (and anything else) has gone up significantly even in the past 10 years.  We are only able to afford to do productions because we are recycling our raw materials (lumber, costumes, etc) as much as possible.  This slows our process, diminishes the quality of work we are capable of, and creates possible unnecessary hazards for those (often students) tasked with stripping apart materials to reuse them.

 

Don't get me wrong, I believe in sustainability in our practices but the given budget is not conducive for trying to expand the program.  The rights alone to produce a musical cost thousands.  We need to be able to produce plays that are worth going to and engage the audiences and the community.  Theatre teaches communication, collaboration, creative problem solving, and empathy.  Science and math and engineering are fantastic fields of study but without the creative soft skills which are already diminished in public schools, we become a society where the next generation of great thinkings and problem solvers may not be coming from this country.

 

It's a bit of a hyperbole, but the point is that in order to produce quality entertainment that this school and region can be proud of, we need to be able to increase our production budgets.  Even a $3 student fee would nearly triple our budget and allow our students to see the shows for FREE which would help serve the school and the community by eliminating another paywall for art and culture."

 

Pending:  Provost Cavalier

 


 

"Improve campus efficiencies during summer. Our summer school enrollments, number of special events, and range of athletic/music camps have diminished considerably, yet we continue to pay support staff and spend a large sums of money cooling really large buildings for minimal use. Could we cross-train some of the support staff to assist with special projects or work loads across campus during the summer?  Could we look at cost savings of closing some of the biggest, most under-utilized buildings? If not, perhaps reduce support staff in some buildings to 30 hours/week if they wanted to have the reduced hours and pay. 

 

This item is under review by the Chancellor’s Cabinet.

 


 

Improve retention by looking at data.  IR has the data on which classes have the highest W/D/F rates for frosh.  We have a Writing Center, Math Lab, and STEM Lab, but are those support services as effective as they need to be?  Investing in these three support services would pay for itself in retention dollars in a relatively short period of time.

 

Pending:  Provost Cavalier

 


 

Establish IT review for all technology purchases.  Currently departments can be easily lured to purchase a program or app by a sales rep or by a well-prepared presentation at a conference.  Sales reps cannot speak to the infrastructure of UTM ITS.  As a result, UTM has had several major IT purchases go fallow quickly because the technology could not do what it was designed to do or because UTM did not have the infrastructure to support it.

Response:  IT signs off on contracts through the IT Governance process.

 


 

Evaluate the effect of course fees on student recruitment and retention.  Our course fees seem to be our default mechanism for raising revenue, which is counter-intuitive for our student demographic. 

 

Pending:  Provost Cavalier

 


 

Improve academic advising.  Improving the academic advising process would help our students succeed, maximize their financial aid, and increase their affinity for their alma mater.  We have too many students who lose their financial aid eligibility due to multiple changes of major and subsequently losing course credit that cannot be applied to new major.

 

Pending:  Provost Cavalier

 


 

Improve campus community.  Students need to feel like they belong and that they can succeed at UTM academically and socially.  Our services and policies need to exude that affirmation. "

 

The Chancellor’s Cabinet is interested in learning which services and policies are of concern.

 


 

Instead of Zero Budget, why doesn't the financial administration meet with the departments and based on the last 5 years analyze with the department what their budget should be. We have the take the time to train for Zero budget, this could not take as much time and still help cut budgets; budget hearings have not happen in many years - maybe this is where we went wrong.

 

Response:  Finance and Adminstration has offered to meet with departments, and some departments have utilized Finance and Adminstration’s services in their planning.  Budget hearings have continued to occur other than a one-year disruption.  Finance and Adminstration meets with the Vice Chancellor’s of each area.  Departments are represented via their deans who provide information to the Provost.

 


 

Look at creative scheduling.  A wise faculty member once shared that if a group of faculty would be allowed to teach 5 classes in the fall and 3 in the spring or  3/5, then one adjunct position could be eliminated.  I don't know if that holds true any longer, but a possibility in the service departments where multiple sections of a single class is offered and are sequenced such as Engl 111(105)-112 or Math 100-110.  This would also support research during the semester where only 3 classes are taught.

 

Pending:  Provost Cavalier

 


 

"Review of all programs that teach courses with consistently <10 students. How often are they taught? Why are there so few students?  Could the course be offered on rotation or opened up to other students who might want to take the class as an elective?

 

We would all love to teach classes that only have 6-8 students; however, this is not fiscally responsible.... or shouldn't be (in my mind)."

 

Pending:  Provost Cavalier

 


 

"Per the THEC 2020-2025 Quality Assurance Funding Standard 1

 

We could opt to test a sample of our graduating seniors on the General Education Assessment (ETS Proficiency Profile).  In the table provided on page 23, an example is provided that UTM could test 47% of their seniors instead of ALL graduating seniors.  Since UTM pays for these exams (are we reimbursed by THEC??) that would save $$.

 

Additionally, are either of the other approved Gen Ed assessments cheaper?  The California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) or the CAT Assessment.  We would have to wait until the end of a cycle to change assessment exams."

 

Pending:  Provost Cavalier

 


 

Why do we maintain 2 separate General Education programs? Do other universities have different general education requirement (credit hours) depending on the degree being pursued?  Imagine the man hours maintaining the catalog, Flight Plan, Banner, hours in Faculty Senate.  Could this be streamlined?

 

Pending:  Provost Cavalier

 


 

"Why can F&A not identify an amount each area needs to cut? Is this not the main responsibility of their role?

 

Response:  Finance & Administration’s primary responsibility is collaborative and strategic with budget cuts comprising a small portion of its responsibility.  The reduction amount for each Vice Chancellor’s area has been identified by Finance & Administration and shared with the responsible person.

 


 

Has an assessment been done of support staff and elimination of not needed positions? Or faculty that aren't productive?

 

Response:  This evaluation is in process within each Vice Chancellor’s area.

 


 

Outreach centers-Jackson has 25 students approximately. But a director and assistant that are rotating working from home are there...why? Are all centers really self-sustaining?

 

Pending:  Provost Cavalier

 


 

Our university, as a whole, is going to have to become more student and transfer friendly. Enrollment can be affected when departments such as admission, records, financial aid are not available to assist students or approve credit for courses students have taken at other institutions.

 

Pending:  Provost Cavalier

 


 

Why are online fees so steep? What is needed extra to run these?

 

Response:  Online fees are comparable to face-to-face courses on a per course basis.  Similar to face-to-face courses, online courses require faculty and campus infrastructure.

 


 

Why are some departments allowed to continually go over their budget? Who is approving this? "

 

Response:  Budgets are reviewed at the Vice Chancellor’s Levels.  The Vice Chancellors can realign resources and operate as deemed appropriate; however, the Vice Chancellors cannot exceed their budget.  In the event that this happens, they must repay the overage.

 


 

"THEC Quality Assurance Funding shows a shift of 10 points to Student Equity from Adult Learner Success. Have we addressed this shift where, ""the Advisory Committee recommends one of the the three populations selected include either low-income, African American, or Hispanic graduates...""

 

Will we score well here?

 

Not sure how to address the increase in points for accreditation (Academic Programs)."

 

Response:  The THEC QAF standards are revised prior to the beginning of each 5-year cycle, and in the 2020-25 cycle. In the past, some of the standards were included to target specific areas that were seen as needing attention across the state. Those standards typically are included for only one cycle. The Adult Learner Success standard was one of those standards in the 2015-20 QAF cycle. The THEC advisory group for the development of the 2020-25 made the recommendation to shift the points from the Adult Learner Success to Student Equity.

 

Prior to the beginning of each cycle we receive a planning document in which we identify any target populations needed for the standards.  For the 2020-25 cycle, we evaluated the populations from which we could select our target populations. The attached document outlines the rationale used in making our selections.

 

Focus Populations Options for UTM and Rationale for Selection or Non-selection

 


 

"Has anyone looked at the number of faculty versus number of students graduating? Over the past 10 plus years this number has significantly decreased in our department but we continue to hire and request more faculty?

 

lab/clinical positions - why are we not hiring adjuncts (no benefits, no insurance, etc.) to cover clinical for clinical and/or lab courses at a fraction of the cost for a full time instructor/assistant professor. Departments have faculty driving all over the state (look at the travel, clinical expense) and a teaching classes on campus. Most other clinical based universities utilize adjunct faculty for clinical/lab days which is cost effective and not exhausting for faculty who have university related responsibilities (committees, service, scholarship).

 

There are chairs/deans who don't go over budget because they are given a large, unnecessary budget to start with (how are expenses prioritized in each department?  Why are we spending money for unnecessary items (chair and staff new furniture/desks) if we are financially challenged?).

 

How is overload pay determined in each department? Does a chair or dean get to decide and pick who will teach extra classes?  Is it right for a chair to teach overload ($$$) when there are MANY faculty who are willing to teach those classes?"

 

Pending:  Provost Cavalier

 


 

It would be helpful to know exactly how much we need to cut. Will cuts be distributed evenly across all departments (e.g. everyone cuts 5%)? Or are there some departments that consistently overspend and can cut more?

 

Response:  The cuts have been identified by VC area.  Each VC has the latitude to determine how the cuts should be administered within their area.

 


 

My concern is all of the centers within the University. Jackson and Ripley are the biggest concern. Parsons is very substantial with the best enrollment and involvement but it seems that the other 2 do not do a very good job with enrollment and we are wasting money there.

 

Pending:  Provost Cavalier

 


 

I have more of a question than a suggestion. When we did the job-family review for pay scales, we were told most people would not receive a pay increase. However, by looking at the salaries that are public record, there are multiple people (more than 10) that have received $30,000, $40,000+ pay increases. This seems to have only impacted the Director level and up. Why were these abundant increases approved but not for many people under this level? Why are we being asked to cut our department expenses and potentially jobs after we have given such steep raises to high-level employees? Were the increases funded by the UT System? How did these increases impact the departments' budgets (IT for example)? This does not create good morale across campus. What is the timeline for getting others increases that deserve it (based on market rate)? With the creation of Blue Oval jobs and jobs around this area to support, Blue Oval, we are going to be in jeopardy of losing great talent.

 

Response:  One of the major goals of the three-year Compensation Study Project, which ultimately resulted in all employees receiving some level of increase, was to move UT Martin’s employee wages and salaries to be more competitive with similar positions in the marketplace.  As a result, nearly all employees received some level of increase, some more than others, but all pay increases were tied to their relative worth in the regional market.  These increases were not funded by the UT System.  UT Martin has long had employee wages and salaries that were not competitive with the market, and in some instances, not competitive with other UT institutions.  At the time that these increases became effective, the dip in enrollment numbers had not yet occurred.  As such, the need to reduce expenses now is in direct correlation to experiencing lower student enrollment numbers which correspondingly impacts available institutional funds for successful operational purposes.  Given the longstanding history of UT Martin having non-competitive employee wages and salaries, the executive team endeavors to make every effort to maintain current compensation levels.  The decision to maintain wages and salaries at current levels will also enable UT Martin to be more competitive in the future when competing for and recruiting new talent to join the university.  These efforts position UT Martin to compete better with all other organizations, including Blue Oval jobs.   The goal of the compensation study is to address wage and salaries over a period of time, and the employee increases that became effective as of July 2021 are only the first step in a series of increases that are expected to take place as institutional funds permit in coming years.

 


 

Consider a campus-wide plan to lower energy costs. Other universities engage in 'rolling brown-outs' and 'rolling black-outs' during times when school is not in session (holidays, transition from semester end to semester start dates). So often these days, buildings are empty or near empty even during the weekdays and certainly on weekends. Pre-scheduled and pre-announced lowering of power usage in areas of campus could save a lot of money.

 

Response: We already use methods, mentioned below, to conserve energy in our buildings.  We use Building Management software (BMS) to control the HVAC systems in our buildings. The BMS system is monitored and adjusted daily by our HVAC department to save energy and reduce losses. We have a normal energy setback schedule and a Holiday schedule. We are constantly working  with the building managers to make sure events such as ball games and special events are included in our BMS schedule. The normal after hour temperature setback in heating season is  50-60 degrees and we turn temperatures up after-hours during cooling season to 80-85 degrees. Each building is different, but we do everything we can to save energy daily.

 

There are certain times of the year we can recover energy losses in our buildings:

  • Recover exhausted air by utilizing energy recover equipment (economizers and air to air recovery wheels)
  • Reset the schedule by monitoring outside humidity and temperatures
  • Replace old equipment with more efficient equipment
  • Replace constant air volume equipment with variable frequency drives (VFD’s) to vary flow and air volume to reduce energy needs.

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