UTA’s Faculty Senate met virtually for the second time and discussed topics such as the university’s fiscal budget, COVID-19 case spikes among faculty and staff, and construction on campus.
In regards to the university fiscal budget, interim President Teik Lim said UTA will lose more of its auxiliary services that are used to support parking, housing and dining services, among other things. These are not directly related to academic support.
“Here's a little bit of a bad news, just wanted to give a heads up,” Lim said. “Last fiscal year, our auxiliary services lost $10.9 million dollars, and we're projected to lose $6 million dollars this fiscal year.”
A significant drop in international enrollment due to COVID-19 has also impacted the university’s general funds, and UTA is projected to lose $9 million in tuition revenue for the fiscal year of 2021. This may have an impact on the university’s budget, Lim said.
The drop in tuition revenue due to a decrease in international enrollment is not new, with schools around the country facing the same issue, he said. However, the university has not had to furlough or lay off staff.
“Since everyone's budget for this fiscal year is already set — this fiscal year ends August of 2021 — we will cover the loss to this tuition funded general funds using one time reserves,” Lim said. “The problem is the next fiscal year.”
In regards to COVID-19, the spike of confirmed cases among faculty was brought up. Last week, the university reported an additional 22 confirmed cases with 11 being staff members.
Currently, the large number of confirmed cases among university employees was traced back to multiple departments in Davis Hall and Texas Hall, university spokesperson Joe Carpenter said. There is no linkage among the cases in various departments, and contact tracing has been completed.
“Those departments are implementing a policy or procedure at least for the next couple of weeks for a 14-day timeframe, where they'll be staffing with essential personnel only,” Carpenter said.
The university has submitted two Tuition Revenue Bond proposals to the UT System, which is typically used to support new buildings on campus, Lim said. The proposals are for renovation and expansion of both the Fine Arts and Life Science buildings. The cost of renovation is estimated at $125 million to $135 million each.
The Trinity Hall construction project is underway and will serve as a one-stop academic and administration building for faculty seeking support in teaching and learning, Lim said. The project will cost about $26 million overall, with an estimated $17,225,489 building cost. It is expected to be ready for use next spring.
The university is also preparing to break ground on the new School of Social Work and Smart Hospital building in early spring, he said. The total cost of the project is estimated at $76 million, and it’s expected to be completed by the end of 2022.
The university’s third Faculty Senate meeting is scheduled for Nov. 11 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.