This semester is flying by, but there is a lot of important work ahead of us. Hopefully we have seen our last snow day for this winter!
There has been considerable discussion on campus about the Budget Rebalancing process. UPRAC is continuing its work and budget proposals that came to the committee four weeks ago have changed significantly. For example, several of the more controversial proposals have been taken back to departments and/or department heads for further discussion and input.
Budget discussions are almost always difficult and cause angst and discomfort among faculty, staff and students. We must remember that this is a Budget Rebalancing process. It is not about cuts, it is about achieving excellence and better serving our students and community. UPRAC is making recommendations to me, not making decisions. Several people have asked “what happens after UPRAC makes its recommendations?” I have responded that I am expecting recommendations to fall into three categories: (1) Noncontroversial budget actions that need to be quickly enacted; (2) Recommendations that clearly have merit and broad campus support but are complex – the “gray area;” and (3) Complex, controversial recommendations that clearly need additional study prior to action. Recommendations in area (1) will hopefully be easy to address. The “gray area” recommendations, (2), may each require a different path. For example we might form a task force of faculty, staff and students to provide recommendations, examine negative and positive impacts of the recommendation, and/or develop an implementation plan; refer the recommendation to an existing UTC committee; or form a new standing committee. Recommendations in area (3), the controversial ones, will be carefully considered and vetted even more carefully than noted for area (2) prior to action. At this stage, I have no recommendations so I cannot address any details.
My number one goal throughout the Budget Rebalancing process has been to ensure that the campus is heard. The eventual decisions may not be to everyone’s liking but it is vital to our cohesiveness as a campus that everyone feel that their input was acknowledged and honestly evaluated. UTC is people. You are UTC. Your opinion will be heard and listened to.
UPRAC will hold a town hall budget meeting on Friday, March 20th from 10:00 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. in the University Center Auditorium. They will share progress to date and seek input. If you cannot attend the Town Hall meeting, or prefer to provide written feedback, we welcome your input at http://www.utc.edu/budget-rebalancing/. In order for this to be a productive discussion, the lines of communication must be clear. Thank you for the input that has already been received.
The UT Board of Trustees approved the 2015 UTC Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program (VRIP) at its meeting last week. This program is open to full-time faculty and staff who, as of June 30, 2015, are either 55 years or older with at least 10 years of service; 60 years or older with at least 5 years of service; or any age with at least 25 years of service. The incentive is a lump sum payment based on fifty percent of the employee’s annualized salary as of June 30, 2015 (less administrative or other stipend amounts) and the employee’s effective retirement date would be June 30, 2015. If you would like more information about this program or a list of information open sessions, please see www.utc.edu/retirement-incentive.
Last but not least, the SoCon Championships start this week and UTC’s wrestling team and our men’s and women’s basketball teams are competing in Asheville, North Carolina. Women’s basketball is ranked 17th in the AP Top 25 after Saturday’s win against East Tennessee State and plays UNCG today at noon. Men’s basketball and men’s wrestling will both compete on Saturday, March 7th. Go Mocs!