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UT President Looking For Ways To Save Money, Increase Revenue
It's been called one of the richest universities in the country; but at the University of Texas, costs for students and faculty could soon be going up.
It's a $490 million question. That's how much money UT President Bill Powers says the university needs to save to remain efficient.
After a year's worth of work, President Powers presented a report on Tuesday outlining how to make UT-Austin run less like a university and more like a fortune 500 company.
The University of Texas sits in an elite group. It's third only to Harvard and Yale when it comes to endowments.
So how can a university with so much wealth still be asking for more money from students and staff?
"We see reports about being the richest public university in the country. Third of all universities, those figures are the endowment for our entire system," disputed UT President Bill Powers of these reports.
We sat down with Powers to get some clarification on the numbers. He says a big chunk of the endowment money comes from university land in West Texas. But he says the profits from oil and gas get split between the entire UT System, which includes 15 universities.
"So the idea that we ought to be able to compete,and we're richer than these universities, simply is not true," Powers says.
Instead, in a speech Tuesday, Powers says it's time to be smarter about how the university spends the money it already has.
"Whatever resources we have, we ought to be using them in the most efficient, effective, businesslike way we can," said Powers.
He says that means possibly consolidating jobs, looking for new revenue streams, even possibly raising some costs for students and staff.
"This is not a decision to raise those rates," stressed Powers. "It's a decision to look into how we might do that on a more business like basis."
Some of the specific ideas suggested include:
Raising parking fees. Powers says this is not necessarily to generate more money, but using a new business model to incentivize people to carpool.
Raising housing costs. Powers says this is in an effort to keep up with the cost of living in Austin and to put money back into building new programs and housing needs.
Consolidate jobs. Powers says this is in an effort to spend less on administrative costs and more on education.
Finding new revenue sources. Powers suggested looking into selling some of the excess power the university generates.
None of these ideas have been finalized.
By Karen Kiley