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Letters to the University Community Faculty and Staff Update

April 30, 2013

The academic year is coming to an end, and I have a few updates you may find of interest, as well as a request for feedback from you.

Legislative Session - Given our state’s healthy economy, the budget for higher education looks promising. At this point, it seems likely that most state universities in Texas will get at least one capital construction project funded (for UH, it will be a pharmacy building) and some increase in the base formula funding. While we are grateful to the Texas Legislature for these early signs of promise, our efforts toward fiscal responsibility must continue since the new gains do not make up for funds lost during the last biennium’s budget cut. See the comparison for UH below:

2010 state formula funding per weighted credit hour $62.19
2012 state formula funding per weighted credit hour $53.71
Proposed best-case scenario for state formula funding per weighted credit hour $56.19

As you know, just a few more weeks remain in the current session. We thank our alumni, faculty, staff, students and the Houston community for their continued efforts in highlighting the need for investment in the University of Houston.

Upcoming Board Meeting - Our UH System Board of Regents will meet in mid-May to consider several significant items, among them fixed tuition for freshmen, adjustment in tuition and fees for all students, financing for building projects and approval of faculty tenure. Up for board approval will be plans for the renovation of Hofheinz Pavilion, plans and financing for a multi-disciplinary research and engineering building as well as financing for Phase II of the stadium project, for a biomedical sciences and pharmacy building, and for the lease to play football games in fall 2013 at Reliant Stadium.

In its August meeting, the Board of Regents will consider the 2013-14 budget, including a salary pool, and new admissions standards for transfer students. You can always review the board agenda and accompanying materials on the Board of Regents website and, of course, you can always contact the Faculty Senate leadership or a member of my Cabinet for any additional information.

University Budget Process and Your Feedback - The university budgeting process for next year is under way. My guidelines to vice presidents and deans require that all units - academic and administrative - reflect upon and illustrate how their work impacts the university’s twin goals of student success and national competitiveness (Tier One). Budget hearings are proceeding at the vice presidential level.

In this regard, I ask you to provide your feedback on the following two questions:

  • If the board were to approve a pool of funds for salary/benefit enhancement, should we proceed as we have done in the past (putting everything in salary) or should we think more comprehensively? Does any area deserve special attention? Salary increase or benefit enhancement? If salary increase, whose salary - faculty, staff, others? If benefit enhancement, which benefits? Any other thoughts?
  • If the Board were to approve a salary increase, did last year’s merit model work for you? Do you have suggestions for improvement? Is there a better way to tie compensation with performance? Please do not suggest across-the-board, because the board would want to see compensation tied to performance.

If you have any suggestions, please visit the UH “budget discussions” website and follow the instructions to submit an email. Since you are closer to the action, your suggestions can help us make better and more informed decisions.

Executive Searches - Final candidates for the position of Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (UH System) and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost (UH) have been invited to campus. It is a critical search, therefore, I request that you please find time in your busy schedules to attend the open meetings with the candidates and provide your feedback.

The search for the NSM Dean has started and will continue through the summer and into the fall. The search for the Law Center Dean has begun informally. As a first step, the Interim Provost and I met with the faculty and staff of the Law Center. Next month, we will be hosting two or more sessions with our law alumni to seek their guidance and wisdom. The provost will announce the search committee in June, which will signal the formal start of the process.

I hope this is helpful. As always, I am grateful for being part of your team. If you have not signed on to receive my weekly blog , you may want to consider it. These commentaries highlight and honor our unsung heroes in the University. Knowing these individuals makes me feel blessed, and it may make you stand taller as a Cougar as well.

Thank you for your support,

Renu Khator
University of Houston