UTSA officials assure that state budgets will not have a profound effect on the university and its employees or students.

This fall, employees will receive salary equity raises in addition to a 2.25 percent merit based raise if approved later this month.

“People are very important. So we need to take care of our business. We won’t keep our staff and faculty if we don’t take care of them. The increase in pay is to remain competitive” President Ricardo Romo said.

With the nation declaring a 9.1 percent unemployment rate while on the brink of a double dip recession, how has UTSA managed to stay afloat let alone thrive in such a downward sloping economy?

Leaders of UTSA have planned well in advance for such a possible crisis. In spring of 2010, overall budgets were said to drop by 30 percent. While state appropriated budgets fell, the universities overall budget actually increased due to a growth in enrollment bringing in more student fees and higher tuition costs. Essentially, the state budget was hurt while the university’s own funding actually improved.

Preliminary reports show that student enrollment has increased by four percent from fall 2010 to fall of this year. While UTSA is continuing to grow in student population after each term, other campuses within the UT System have placed a cap on their enrollment, preventing additional revenue.

With the progressive tuition increases and student enrollment, the university has managed to avoid cutting jobs both within faculty and staff employment, as opposed to other universities, such as UT Austin, which has had a 30 percent loss with their endowment, forcing layoffs across the board. So it seems that UTSA is actually doing better than the rest of the UT System as the university continues to grow.

 

“Cuts have not had as disastrous of an impact on us as it might have, had we not planned so thoroughly,” Provost Dr. John Frederick said. “We’ve had to be clever and creative on how to provide quality education during this economic crisis.”

Frederick noted that most of UTSA’s growth is in student retention. There has been an increase in credit hour enrollment than in years past. “If you take more classes, you get through quicker allowing you [students] to save both money and time” Frederick said.

Upper division courses should now reflect a higher student to professor ratio as students figure out the more school costs and the longer they stay enrolled, only increases the loss in opportunity by not allowing themselves to be a part of the job market.

“I already have a job lined up through my internship. The quicker I get through school (by taking 15 plus hours a term and summer classes) the quicker I can get that steady paycheck” Aaron Garcia, communications senior said.

Students can also expect to see cuts in their financial aid. Nearly 2,000 UTSA students will be affected by the Texas Grant funding being reduced.

“I’m getting less financial aid than I did last year. My Texas Grant was cut, not by much, but it was. That could have helped with my books” Christina Trevino, College of Science major said.

Nearly 70 percent of students at UTSA receive some form of financial aid and almost 35 percent of those students families are making $40 thousand or less, “If anyone is hurt by this economy it is the students. Which is why it is important for them to graduate on time” Frederick said.

Budget cuts have also not had a great impact, as officials have been “conservative with hiring.” Over the last year, full time faculty has not been hired while staff employment came to a near halt with the campus wide hiring freeze.

With the new budget, faculty and staff positions can now slowly begin to fill. Staff can expect to see the start of the ‘Voluntarily Separation Incentive Program,’ which will allow for employees to start on their retirement plans a little earlier than planned, yet also allow the university to save a little extra on costs.

Athletics is also one department that will not be affected by the state’s budget cuts, as their money is entirely separate from academics. Money used for any UTSA athletics program is accrued from student fees, admissions fees to any athletic events, gate receipts, and a large amount from donations. Students‘ tuition does not go towards the new football team or any athletic involvement.

In the future, students can expect to see not only the completion of the new building near the North Parking Garage, but also the renovation of other buildings which means more classrooms and more space in the library, which will bring in more new collections and projects.

Legislative Director for Senator Leticia Van de Putte adds, “UTSA is well on their way to becoming a big player in this game.”

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