UT System begins laying off employees to cut costs, refocus administrative functions

Chase Karacostas

UT System Chancellor James B. Milliken laid off approximately 65 employees this week as part of a plan to reduce costs across the 700-person administrative branch that oversees UT-Austin and 13 other institutions.

The reduction in the number of full-time UT System personnel is the first step of Milliken’s implementation of recommendations released by a task force consisting of System Chairman Kevin Eltife and three other regents. The task force was formed with the goal of “streamlining and rethinking some administrative functions” and to find areas to cut costs within the System.

“I share the goals of the Board of Regents that are reflected in the task force report — to meet our legal and fiduciary responsibilities, to provide the system level leadership and oversight necessary and appropriate, to add as much value as possible to our 14 institutions and best position them for success, and to conduct our activities with the highest level of integrity and in the most cost-effective matter,” Milliken said in a press release.

The task force’s report looked at 16 different departments encompassing 40 percent of System employees. The final report suggested reducing the workforce by 70-110 personnel, or up to 15 percent of the System’s employees. However, according to a System press release, the final reduction in personnel could exceed the number recommended by the task force.

The employees let go this week were notified starting Monday, according to the press release.

The departments of Facilities Planning and Construction, Employee Benefits, Shared Information Services and General Counsel are undergoing additional review to see where further cuts can be made. The results of the review, as well as the cost-savings that will come from the workforce reduction, will be released in a few months, according to the press release.

Eltife, who led the task force, has often been a critic of System spending.

“The more efficiently we operate our administrative functions, beginning with the System Administration, the better we’ll be able to directly pass resources along to educate students and enhance the lives of patients who depend on us,” Eltife said in the press release.

Implementation of the report’s recommendations continues the push away from former Chancellor Bill McRaven’s vision of a more involved and expansive UT System. Instead, the report said the System should focus on helping its institutions with their own initiatives.

McRaven’s “Quantum Leaps” were isolated as “repeatedly cited” examples of programs that were “less successful” than those that originated from individual institutions on their own.