University budget presented to Faculty Senate

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    The 2013-2014 university budget was the focus of Thursday's Faculty Senate meeting as Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Brian Gutierrez presented the near half-billion budget.

    The budget will include money for new faculty and staff and other expenditures including merit pay, faculty adjustment and an increase in financial aid, Gutierrez said. The endowment payout will remain the same at $57.2 million.

    The Academy of Tomorrow will continue to receive supplemental funding from the TCU budget, financing projects such as the intellectual commons, Gutierrez said.

    Currently, the Academy has been funded primarily with donations, and the university has contributed the difference. Gutierrez said additional funding for the Academy will come from issuing $100 million in bonds sometime next academic year.

    The university will also put more money into financial aid next year in order to coincide with an increase in tuition, Gutierrez said. The 5.8 percent increase in financial aid spending is the same as next year's increase in tuition. Gutierrez said this is the university's usual practice any time tuition rates rise.

    Gutierrez also noted that a separate, supplemental $2 million was set aside for financial aid. That money, if not used, could go toward other uses such as trying to aid students in their decisions to come to TCU.

    Gutierrez said the university is now competing with other major universities and students often have to choose between TCU and universities such as Stanford.

    Citing the addition of 400 new housing spots that will come about with the opening of two new residence halls next semester, Gutierrez said the need to hire additional workers, particularly in housekeeping, is necessary and that the budget reflects that.

    An additional $15 million will be added to the budget in 2015 as the Big 12 will begin paying distribution fees to the university.

    Gutierrez said the budget is a "best-case view" for the next year.

    Also, a resolution first presented to the faculty senate in April on TCU's employee benefits passed 48-1, with one abstention.

    The new resolution recommends current employee benefits be reviewed "with the most careful and mindful scrutiny" and that if any reductions are proposed, they are brought into the Faculty Senate for discussion before being implemented. The resolution also calls for the preservation of benefits at their current levels.

    The resolution was initially proposed in response to a March 6 meeting Chancellor Victor Boschini and Provost Nowell Donovan had with the University Compensation Advisory Committee. At the meeting, Boschini asked the UCAC to collect information regarding employee benefits from the Faculty Senate and the Staff Assembly, which worried some senators that a change was coming.

    Changes to the Student Media & Publications Committee were also made, resulting in the formation of the new Student Media Operations Committee, which will be based in the Schieffer School of Journalism. This new committee will have oversight of all student media publications. The former will focus on "general oversight of student media."

    The hour-long meeting covered additional topics such as the implementation of a more efficient way to record student absences, the presentation of a resolution honoring Chancellor Boschini for his service to the university and future committee appointments.

    As the meeting drew to a close, a change in leadership was also announced. Current Faculty Senate Executive Committee chair Marie Schein ceded the reigns to chair-elect Chris Sawyer. Schein spoke briefly, thanking senators for their help and advice throughout her tenure as chairperson.

    Sawyer said he was looking forward to getting to know next year's faculty members – especially over coffee.

    "I love to have conversation over coffee," Sawyer said.