Post Classifieds

Departments manage cuts in unique ways

By Caleb Slinkard
On May 2, 2011


The state budget crisis and budget cuts that are bound to come with it have loomed over Texas A&M University-Commerce for the better part of the past year, but as the budget picture crystallizes at the state level, the university has taken steps to make the necessary cuts.

"The University is developing its budget based on the numbers of the Committee Substitute for House Bill 1," Bob Brown, vice president for business and administration, said. "It is the version of the state appropriation which cuts the most from current funding levels. We believe that this is the most cautious way to approach the budget for next year. We will adjust our assumptions after official action is taken by the legislature and the governor. CSHB1 cuts approximately $5.5 million a year from the University budget. We already reduced our budget by  $1.6 million a year last summer. That leaves us $3.9 million a year to deal with as we plan next year's budget."

A&M-Commerce has dealt with the remaining cuts in a variety of ways.

"We have almost $2.2 million in annual revenues generated by enrollment growth that have not been spent," Brown said. "We have renegotiated or re-bid some of our contracts with outside vendors to generate $800,000 in savings. We have made staff reductions, largely using vacated positions, and operating budget reductions to accomplish the remainder."

 The budget reduction strategy is the result of many months of planning, beginning with A&M-Commerce President Dr. Dan Jones appointing members to the Budget Review and Development Council.

"The Council consists of 24 individuals and includes representation from all divisions on campus including the following:  all four academic deans, other deans, three faculty senate representatives, a student representative and other representatives from each division," current Council Chair Alicia Currin said. "The Council begins meeting in early fall each year and concludes their work in the spring.  The president provides a formal ‘charge to the committee' each year and that document is our guiding instrument."

In the College of Arts and Sciences, Dean Dr. Salvatore Attardo asked the different department heads to come up with their own ways of meeting budget cuts.

"Each department was given an exact figure; originally we gave them one figure and they said they couldn't do it with that figure, so we went back and asked the administration for more money and we got more money," he said. "This still means we had a serious cut from last year. We're talking more than $100,000 cut total."

Attardo asked for 15 percent "more efficiency" from the departments, much of which was taken from adjunct faculty budgets.

"I said ‘do this the way you think is best, just get me 15 percent of the total budget,'" Attardo said. "It is very difficult to cut faculty lines. So I [told the department heads] to focus on the adjunct budget. The faculty budget, which is by far the largest part of the budget, that part is more or less fixed. The departments were extremely good, they came up with very clever strategies and every department came up with the cuts differently. Some departments made classes bigger, in some cases they asked the senior faculty to teach more classes, in other cases they moved classes around, offering classes one time a year instead of twice. There wasn't a one-size fits all."

In some cases, departments cut more than half of their adjunct faculty budget, a move that Attardo does not believe will strongly affect students.

"Some departments cut their adjunct budget by half, literally half, in fact more than 50 percent," he said. "In other departments they rely on adjuncts much more heavily. By and large, we were able to cut the adjunct budget significantly without really impacting students, except that they might find that some of their classes are a little bit bigger or that there is less variety of offerings, but I would be surprised if they noticed.The fact that we were able to do this is evidence of what clever, brilliant people we have working at the university."

Head of the Biological and Environmental Sciences Department, Jeffrey Kopachena, said the cuts in his department mainly dealt with the instructional budget.

"For fall, we have had to cut some adjunct positions as well as a couple of graduate assistantships," he said. "We did not have to terminate any assistantships that were currently occupied but did lose a couple of positions left vacant by students who graduated this spring. We did not have to cut any classes this fall, but may need to do so for spring. Our majors, both graduate and undergraduate, will not be affected by dropping classes from the schedule."

Kopachena said he hopes the effect the budget cuts will have on his department are "minimal."

"We are being told that these cuts are temporary, based on economic recovery in the next two years or so," he said. "I think we can weather this situation and still offer our students a superior educational product. Our department has exceptional teachers and an excellent record of producing high quality graduates. We will most definitely keep it that way."

He said he feels that the department was effective in the cuts they made, and the instructors will be able to manage extra workloads.

"We were pretty successful," Kopachena said. "In the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, our senior faculty, full-time instructors and myself were able to pick up the slack left by the loss of adjunct positions. This allows our junior tenure-track faculty to focus on supervising graduate research and helps protect our graduate program from the effects of budget cuts."

The College of Arts and Sciences was not the only college that will have to operate on reduced funding. Even the non-academic budget was severely cut.

"All of the colleges had to cut their budget," Attardo said. "The non-academic side of the house are cutting majorly- in fact the non-academic side has been hit pretty hard, they've actually fired people already, where as we've managed not to. In some cases we were not able to renew the contract of some adjuncts, but those are year long contracts so there is never an expectation [for them to be renewed]."

Get Top Stories Delivered Weekly

Recent The East Texan News Articles

Discuss This Article



East Texan readers should know that Houston LASIK specialist, Dr. Amjad Khokar, member of the Texas Medical Association, is a LASIK surgeon in Houston offering the most advanced LASIK technology and experience, providing a safe LASIK surgery.

Log In

or Create an account

Employers & Housing Providers

Employers can list job opportunities for students

Post a Job

Housing Providers can list available housing

Post Housing

Log In

Forgot your password?

Your new password has been sent to your email!

Logout Successful!

Please Select Your College/University:

You just missed it! This listing has been filled.

Post your own housing listing on Uloop and have students reach out to you!

Upload An Image

Please select an image to upload
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format
Provide URL where image can be downloaded
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format