President Powers Defends UT Against The Threats Tough Times Impose

As threats loom — budget cuts, tuition criticism, and low legislative funding among them — UT president Bill Powers is making a strong, smart defense of The University of Texas.

“There’s no doubt, we do face very serious challenges,” Powers said Wednesday as he opened his annual State of the University address on the first day of UT’s 127th year.

Perhaps top of mind were budget cuts. UT is looking at $14.6 million of general revenue funding that will be cut from its budget in each of the next two years, and Gov. Rick Perry is considering another $29.2 million in additional cuts to the budget for each of those years. 

Powers sought to remind his audience and Texas at large how much UT contributes to the state. The venerable research and education institution is the state’s most productive university, he said. “Every dollar spent at UT generates $18,” he said. “There’s simply no more effective economic development program than UT.”

What a person values is demonstrated by how he spends his money, Powers said. The same is true of a state. And so, he asked, does Texas truly value education? Despite California’s budget emergency, Berkeley and UCLA are still better funded than UT, he pointed out.

Perhaps the most-repeated word in Powers’ address was productivity. Getting a 5 percent better result in productivity would result in a $100 million savings, he said. But UT needs to consider not merely its bookkeeping, but rather its strategy — that is, where best to apply its resources to get the greatest return.

“There’s no single solution,” he said. “We’ll need to think of scores of new approaches. Do we have too many administrators? Are our business processes too cumbersome? Are we using our resources in a sustainable way? We need to continue to ask these questions in every portfolio.”

Here are some of the other interesting facts and numbers Powers mentioned for UT this year:


  • The class of entering freshmen no longer has a majority of white students.

  • The University has raised $1.2 billion toward its capital campaign, with 23 percent of alumni having lent their support. It received $299 million in new gifts this past year, an increase of more than 3 percent.

  • UT tuition is the 8th highest out of 12 in the group of its national peer institutions, and Kiplinger’s and other groups continue to rate it a good value
Photo by Christina Murrey/UT Public Affairs

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