UNT implementing hiring freeze

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The University of North Texas is implementing a hiring freeze effective today.

“Our state continues to face a tough fiscal situation and our budgets are uncertain at UNT,” President V. Lane Rawlins wrote in a letter to faculty and staff on Monday.

UNT is citing three reasons for the freeze, which include a decline in enrollment, waivers and exemptions that lower the university’s tuition revenue, and the need to identify further reductions for the upcoming legislative appropriation request, according to the letter.

UNT Provost Warren Burggren said the enrollment of transfer and graduate students has declined, although the freshman class is expected to be nearly 10 percent larger than last year.

The university normally anticipates 2 percent growth each year, but last fall enrollment declined by more than 300 students.

According to the letter from Rawlins, the drop in enrollment poses a problem because “a large portion of our budget is enrollment-driven.”

Another loss in funding is state requirements that do not come with state funding to pay for them.

The largest “unfunded mandate” UNT and other state universities face is waiving fees for military veterans, Burggren said.

“We’re happy to do it,” he said. “We would also be happy if the state would help pay for it.”

What the state has done is ask that other students subsidize veterans’ fees, he said.

The third reason for the freeze, Burggren said, is that UNT has been asked to identify areas where it could make further cuts.

“We’re trying to think conservatively and carefully,” he said.

There will be exceptions to the freeze for public safety, critical maintenance to the infrastructure and critical classes, Burggren said.

The various vice presidents on campus will make decisions about exceptions to the hiring freeze on a case-by-case basis.

Burggren said he didn’t know how long the freeze would last. It will go through a review process every couple of months, he said.

“We’re not at all pleased to implement a hiring freeze now,” he said.

Last year, the university offered a voluntary separation program. Thirty-one faculty members and librarians participated in the program.

The university spent about $840,000 to temporarily fill the positions of the departing faculty and staff members.

The goal of the program was to reallocate positions to reduce class sizes and add course sections to accommodate growth.

The program opened up $2.9 million in salaries, and UNT was expecting to hire 60 to 70 new faculty members.

Burggren said a fair number of those positions have been filled.

“We’ve largely allocated that money,” he said.

The Denton campus is the only one in the UNT system implementing a hiring freeze at this time. The system also includes the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth and the Dallas campus.

“What we want to do is have dollars we can reallocate,” Burggren said. “We need the investment money to do the things we’re trying to do as an institution.”

UNT is planning a national capital campaign, which is being led by Michael Monticino, who was recently named interim vice president for advancement and director of development of the UNT Foundation.

“We’re very focused on the idea of raising money for the students and for the university broadly,” Burggren said.

RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is rmehlhaff@dentonrc.com .

 


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