Committee to review University efficiency

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President William Powers Jr. formed a committee this week consisting of 13 business leaders to analyze the University’s efficiency and make cost-cutting recommendations.

Three subcommittees will branch from the committee to look at the efficiency of the University’s administrative structure, technology commercialization for patenting and marketing University research,f and the management of University assets. The new committee will release a report by the end of December.

Kevin Hegarty, chief financial officer and vice president for the University, said less than 5 percent of the University’s academic budget is spent on administration, which he said is very efficient compared to other higher education institutions in Texas.

“That may not be good enough,” Hegarty said. “This is yet another effort to see what might be done.”

Hegarty said it is possible that the recommendations could lead to restructuring of staff and faculty. However, he said layoffs are difficult to consider so early in the process.

“I won’t even speculate on that, it’s difficult to know,” Hegarty said, but later explained that “it’s hard not to eventually affect the numbers of jobs.”

He said money can be saved without firing people if job positions are closed as employees leave the University.

Gary Kusin, senior adviser at the private equity firm TPG Capital, is a member of the committee and graduated from the University with a government degree in 1972. Kusin said the committee will compare the University’s operational costs to those of similar colleges.

“You try to break it into manageable pieces,” Kusin said. “We’ll be a lot smarter when we get in and do an assessment. The real question is are there opportunities to improve?”

Kusin said the University is already well run, which makes it more exciting to find inefficient areas to improve.

“What I love thinking about are ways not to just drive down cost, but to enhance revenue,” Kusin said.

Kusin said this will include looking into the Office of Technology Commercialization, which is currently looking for a new director to market and patent University research. In terms of managing University assets, he said the committee may look into licensing opportunities for the University mascot Bevo.

Kusin said he and the other business leaders have had to re-imagine the operation of their companies.

“I think that’s why we got the call to think about UT in a different way,” Kusin said. “Our revenues our going down, so you can either stick your head in the sand or say we’re going to do the best we can with our resources.”