Faculty Council pushes to find external funding for Texas Memorial Museum’s outreach activites

Julia Brouillette

Faculty Council unanimously passed a resolution requesting the Texas Memorial Museum’s community outreach activities be financed independently from the University at its meeting Monday.

The museum, which is set to lose approximately $600,000 in funding this September, currently subsists on a mixture of state and University funding, as well as gift-shop sales and donations.

“The museum does provide an education resource for a number of UT classes, including signature classes,” said William Beckner,
mathematics professor and chair-elect of Faculty Council. “Over a thousand UT students benefit from this.”

Such financial independence would allow the museum to continue its educational role within UT and the region, according to Beckner.

“Our first priority should be the education of students,” Beckner said.

Faculty Council also discussed the response from vice president and chief financial officer Kevin Hegarty to a resolution passed at its last meeting that requested more information about the Shared Services plan.

The Shared Services Plan calls for the centralization of University human resources, finance, procurement and information technology services. According to UT officials, the plan also calls for the elimination of 500 jobs, which will take place primarily through natural attrition and retirement.

In January, Hegarty responded to the resolution with a variety of information, including a list of schools that have volunteered to participate in a pilot program. According to Hegarty, both the McCombs School of Business and the College of Liberal Arts have implemented centralized services to some degree.

“Shared Services for certain activities does have the potential to save more money if we aggregate that to more particular spots,” Hegarty said at the meeting.

Faculty Council chairwoman Hillary Hart discussed Hegarty’s response and said there are 11 departments that are either currently involved in some form of Shared Services or want to participate as volunteers, but none have been selected for the pilot program.

Also at the meeting, President William Powers Jr. addressed the recent weather closures, specifically the series of decisions the University made before closing campus Jan. 28.

University officials sent three notifications between 4:55 a.m. and 11:26 a.m. that day, first announcing normal operating hours and then later closing the campus for the day.

“We get it that it turned out terribly,” Powers said. “It was a very unusual weather phenomenon. We obviously get the point that changing at eight in the morning is not the ideal.”

Pat Clubb, vice president of University Operations, said emergency preparedness officials would now make follow-up calls throughout the morning after they make any decision about closing campus.