Sunday, July 12, 2009

Never let a crisis go to waste

Today's Eagle has an article casting doubt on the fiscal crisis at A&M.
The university undoubtedly faces a tougher economic outlook than it did a few years ago, but the severity of the situation is a matter of debate. The potential impact of the proposed cuts on the quality and reputation of the university is also unclear. Regents say that it will have no effect, but many in the community are skeptical.

The regents are set to meet and review next year's budgets for all system schools and agencies late this week. They are also expected to review initial reports on the cost-cutting measures.
The skeptics point to the costs of ex-Pres. Murano's severance, the Chancellor's Teaching Excellence Award, the commitment of University resources to TIGM, TIPS, and NCTM, the creation of new Vice-Chancellors since 2005, and junkets to Qatar as evidence that cost-cutting is a smoke screen.
The 2009 budget for the system offices -- excluding money spent on debt services -- was 82.5 percent higher than it was in 2006, when McKinney took the helm. A&M's budget for 2009 was 22.4 percent higher than the budget for 2006.
They also complain that they should have been asked to plan for belt-tightening earlier
"I think the critical issue is we are not aware of the finance issues that are emerging as the result of our president resigning," said Dennie Smith, head of the Teaching, Learning and Culture Department in A&M's College of Education and president of the university's Department Head Council.

Smith, like many other members of the faculty, has acknowledged that the cost to attend A&M has increased and that the economic times have become tougher, but he said that he thought statements about skyrocketing costs and financial crisis might be overblown. Skeptics also said they had heard little concern about the situation until the regents and McKinney came under fire in recent months.
Why should the Department Heads hear about things beforehand? That's not how we do Shared Governance here.

There should be no doubt that A&M faces a fiscal crisis when we have to have layoffs in the athletic department, and former university officials suggest
...examine the costs of running the system offices and the Board of Regents. All costs must be captured and addressed, including services and hosting activities provided by the university to the system offices. Some of these costs may have to be imputed, as there is no current market price for such items as the chancellor's private box at Kyle Field and similarly provided services and activities

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