UTC is bracing for fewer classes, larger classes and graduation delays because of budget cuts that also threaten continued support of the Challenger Center, the Children’s Center and the Cadek Conservatory of Music, according to an internal memo.
The memo to UTC faculty and staff, written by Dr. Richard Brown, vice president of finance and operation, assesses the impact of mounting state budget cuts on the university. UTC recently learned that it must trim $1.4 million from its budget this year.
“These cuts will be tough,” Dr. Brown said. “It will change the university, but we hope to come away from this process better, leaner and more strategic in our thinking.”
On Thursday, Gov. Phil Bredesen warned that universities are not “sacrosanct and protected” from the state’s troubled economy and urged them to cut programs before raising student tuition to balance their budgets.
Dr. Brown said UTC administrators anticipated leaner times and have begun a top-to-bottom evaluation of all operations. Recommendations on specific adjustments are expected in coming months, he said.
No decisions have been made to eliminate or reduce any program. However, no program at the university will be immune from review, he said.
“It is a strategic planning exercise where you have to ask the tough questions,” he said.
Though the Challenger Center, the Children’s Center and the Cadek Conservatory of Music were named specifically in the memo, they are not being singled out by the university.
“There is no guarantee that any of those programs will be impacted,” he said. “There are around 30 programs that will get a hefty look.”
Many of the programs to be examined produce revenue and are institutionally subsidized, he said. There may be ways for those programs to raise more funds than they currently do and relieve the university of some of the financial burden support.
Other programs and services identified in the memo that could be affected by the budget cuts include:
n Funding for sports programs already struggling to be competitive;
n Operation of McKenzie Arena as an entertainment venue;
n The Fine Arts Center performance series
With fewer dollars, UTC must be careful to protect its core mission: academic instruction, Dr. Brown said.
Programs or services that prevent the university from having the money to provide for quality faculty must take a back seat, he said.
Faculty members are concerned about the implications of the cuts. UTC and University of Tennessee faculty plan to hold a rally in protest of the cuts before the UT board of trustees meeting this week in Knoxville.
“The rally will highlight how the cuts have hurt education in Knoxville and Chattanooga,” said Cameron Brooks, a lead organizer for the United Campus Workers, a union of UT system faculty and staff. “We feel like there has to be a line drawn in the sand.”
Dr. Brown said administrators are looking carefully at the impact of budget cuts on students and faculty.
“(Cuts) will cause the possible reduction in force of staff or possible layoffs of instructional faculty positions,” his memo states.
With a hiring freeze in place on campus, there may not be sufficient trained faculty in place to teach a growing student population, which has grown nearly 30 percent in the last 20 years, he said.
Classes may have to be cut and some students may find themselves unable to take the classes they need to graduate, he said.
Joan Garrett McClane has been a staff writer for the Times Free Press since August 2007. Before becoming a general assignment writer for the paper, she wrote about business, higher education and the court systems. She grew up the oldest of five sisters near Birmingham, Ala., and graduated with a master's and bachelor's degrees in journalism from the University of Alabama. Before landing her first full-time job as a reporter at the Times Free Press, ...