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UT System reprioritizes funding to support Strategic Plan

AUSTIN—The University of Texas System will repurpose $41.3 million in previously-approved funding to support the System’s Strategic Plan — a blueprint designed to help UT institutions achieve their goals. 

Under the reallocation approved by the Board of Regents Thursday, the money will be shifted from existing System projects and initiatives to institution-based programs and collaborations that aim to make Texas stronger, smarter and healthier. 

Over the past six months, the System’s senior leadership evaluated and ranked 40 different projects to determine whether they had unspent balances or had already achieved their initial purpose. 

“This was a very methodical, fiscally-responsible process,” McRaven said. “Projects under review had to be deemed critical or essential in order to maintain funding. If we want UT institutions to be national leaders in addressing our generation’s most serious challenges, then we’re going to have to be nimble in providing funding. That means making smart and sometimes difficult decisions.” 

Ultimately, funding from 16 projects will be redirected. In some cases, the resources were simply repurposed. For example, $10.4 million that was previously earmarked for general health-related activities will now specifically be focused on funding collaborative health care functions at UT institutions such as clinical trials, shared clinical information and other initiatives that leverage UT’s collective size and expertise. 

Another example: $20 million from the Permanent University Fund that already was authorized for the Science and Technology Acquisition and Retention (STARs) program, previously restricted to certain science and engineering disciplines, now will be broadened to include more disciplines, expanding the ability of UT institutions to attract world-class educators and researchers. 

In some cases, project budgets were reduced. The largest reduction of $21 million was made by the Institute of Transformational Learning, as it was able to redevelop and refocus its mission on developing the highest level of educational innovations. The savings will be reallocated to several Quantum Leaps, the System’s program to address key challenges in research, education and health care. Those areas of focus include the UT Network for National Security, the Texas Prospect Initiative, the American Leadership Program, Enhancing Fairness and Opportunity, Leading the Brain Health Revolution and Student Success. 

Since Chancellor McRaven announced the Strategic Plan a year ago, a core leadership team has developed an action plan for each of the nine Quantum Leaps with input from the presidents of all 14 UT institutions.

On Thursday, the Board of Regents received a progress report on three of the nine Quantum Leaps – leadership, promoting diverse hiring practices and gender pay equity, and student success:

  • American Leadership Program – The UT System plans to establish a worldwide reputation for building leaders by implementing a curriculum for all students and establishing leadership education and development programs for employees. Also in the works is a leadership institute that could serve both the public and private sectors.

    “Few, if any, public university systems in the United States apply an educational effort in leadership to all students,” said Tony Cucolo, associate vice chancellor for leadership development and veterans’ affairs. “This is a unique focus on the future workforce where the demand is on the rise for marketable skills that include leadership.”
  • Enhancing Fairness and Opportunity – The UT System implemented new guidelines in February to promote diversity in senior leadership positions. In addition, a committee is meeting regularly to develop guidelines to identify gender pay differences and close pay gaps if inequities exist.

    “This is an opportunity to become a more effective, productive and inclusive organization, and it’s critical to attracting and retaining the best and brightest faculty and leadership to UT institutions,” said Amy Shaw Thomas, vice chancellor for academic and health affairs.
  • Student Success – The UT System is working to dramatically improve student outcomes, particularly in the areas of readiness, access, retention and graduation, by focusing on student preparation, finances, advising and culture. This will be achieved through a data-driven approach to innovate and scale what is working and change what is not.

    “We intend to be on the leading edge of a national dialogue about student success, including expanding our metrics of how we determine that success, and engaging with our institutions – the leaders of this work – in unprecedented ways,” said Rebecca Karoff, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs. 

About The University of Texas System

Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking basic, applied and clinical research, and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States. With 14 institutions and an enrollment of more than 221,000, the UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates almost two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public institutions in Texas. The UT System’s operating budget for FY 2017 is $17.9 billion, including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With more than 20,000 faculty – including Nobel laureates and many members of the National Academies – and nearly 80,000 health care professionals, researchers, student advisors and support staff, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.

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