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Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Faculty Council requests more information about Shared Services

Shelby Fry

William Beckner, chair-elect of the Faculty Council, presents his annual report at a Faculty Council meeting at the tower on Monday afternoon.

At its meeting Monday, Faculty Council passed a resolution requesting more information about Shared Services, which is a plan to consolidate a number of University services.

The resolution, authored by the Faculty Council Executive Committee, asks Kevin Hegarty, executive vice president and chief financial officer, to share specifics of the Shared Services Plan with the public. It was passed by a vote of 28-3.

The plan, a series of recommendations scheduled to be submitted to President William Powers Jr. in the coming months, calls for the centralization of several University services. The plan outlines the elimination of 500 jobs — primarily through attrition and retirement, according to University officials — to centralize finance, information technology, human resources and procurement services. 

The resolution asks for a list of the University units that have volunteered for a pilot and the method of implementation within each unit. It also asks for a report of the results of centralized services already on campus, a plan for collecting data through a pilot, a plan to distribute the findings of the pilot to campus and a request for “one more non-administrative faculty member” to be added to the Shared Services Steering Committee.

“We want to emphasize the need and the conversations about Shared Services to always have specifics, and, when specifics began to emerge, they should be presented to the faculty,” mathematics professor William Beckner said.

Hegarty said he will respect the requests outlined in the resolution, but a more detailed Shared Services Plan can only be developed with specific units or departments in mind, so the current model remains “a plan to get to a plan.”

“Now they want to jump the gun and say, ‘before you get to that customized plan, we need to see a plan,’” Hegarty said. “Well, you’ve seen the plan.”

Hegarty said he thought he made the data necessary to pursue a pilot program widely available.

“I guess I’ll send them the slides that I made for all the presentations,” Hegarty said. “In fact, I’ll point them to our URL because I think they’re all on the web. … I’m not trying to be smart about it, but it’s confusing to say ‘I want data, but I don’t want you to go through the process it takes to develop the data.’”

At a Faculty Council meeting in December, associate communication studies professor Dana Cloud and associate English professor Snehal Shingavi authored a resolution calling for the immediate suspension of any implementation of Shared Services until Hegarty and his staff made more information available. The council didn’t take any action on this resolution and didn’t discuss it at Monday’s meeting.

Instead, Cloud proposed three “friendly amendments” to the resolution presented by the executive council.

“I am very appreciative of this resolution,” Cloud said. “I think it is modest, I think it’s respectful and I think it is deserving of the council’s approval.”

The council passed an amendment asking for Hegarty to begin distributing information to them by the next Faculty Council meeting. An amendment asking for the pilot program to be suspended until data becomes available did not pass.

“There should already be information that is not yet pilot-tested,” Cloud said. “There should be a basic plan of information that we’re not getting. I think it’s reasonable to say that information could begin to flow before the next Faculty Council meeting on some of these questions.”

Hegarty said the University cannot continue to function with its current financial model.

“The campus cannot afford to staff under the current model, [in which] everybody has a customized service,” Hegarty said. “We are having layoffs every year. Those layoffs will have to continue because of our distressed financial situation. The longer we delay trying to do something about how we organize ourselves and don’t save money, the people who are most directly impacted are our staff, and that’s [whom] I feel badly about.”

According to Hegarty, doing nothing is no longer an option.

“To me, in my mind, Shared Services is not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,” Hegarty said.

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Faculty Council requests more information about Shared Services