in Houston, Texas
UT System puts brakes on new headquarters project, cites campus plans in Lower Rio Grande Valley
Friday, Dec 14, 2012, 02:04PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
UT tower

Taxpayers are free to direct their ire at University of Texas System Board of Regents Chairman Gene Powell for robbing them of as much as $5 million a year in savings.

Powell had the temerity to suggest the Regents put off plans to build a new headquarters for the UT System in downtown Austin, the Austin American-Statesman reports today.

We know. You’ve already clicked on the link to the story, and it says not building a shiny new 15-story headquarters in a high rent district would save $102.4 million, considerably more than $5 million.

That’s why you aren’t Regents.

We’re coddling, but follow along. Many months ago, the Regents looked out at their empire, a complex of five buildings downtown. Although these buildings were paid for, they were expensive to maintain.

A study of the matter concluded a consolidation and construction would lead to annual savings in maintenance, energy efficiency, security and other sundries of between $2 million and $5 million a year.

At its maximum savings, the building would pay for itself in 20 years unless, of course, new technologies would make it foolish not to build an even more cost-saving headquarters.

Not at all unlike the tens of millions of taxpayer dollars being spent by our local and state governments to capture the “savings” of solar power.  

But Powell wants to save the whole $102.4 million, right? You’re still just a little behind the curve on this.

According to the Statesman, the Legislature is anxious to put these cost savings theories into practice by merging UT-Brownsville and UT-Pan American into a single Lower Rio Grande Valley campus with a brand new medical school.

Knowing perfectly the direction of the political winds, Powell sent a memo to the board saying construction/savings projects on actual campuses “must take priority over other internally focused capital projects like the proposed new UT System building.”

Not to worry. Powell assured Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa and Scott Kelley, executive vice chancellor for business affairs,“that we will recommend re-evaluation of the project at an appropriate time.”

Appropriate meaning when there is more money available to be spent on saving.

***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo of UT tower by flickr user Niyantha, used via a Creative Commons license.

26 UT System administrators, campus presidents may be in line for corporate-style incentive pay
Wednesday, Aug 22, 2012, 03:14PM CST
By Curt Olson
clocktower

One year after approving a strategy to improve accountability and productivity in the University of Texas System, regents could authorize a corporate-style incentive pay plan for 26 UT System administrators and campus presidents.

After all, if higher education must operate like a business, pay them accordingly, right?

UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa recommends that regents approve an incentive pay plan for the 15 campus presidents and 11 UT System administrators, giving them higher pay based on surpassing goals tied to saving money, research dollars, fundraising and graduation rates, the Austin American-Statesman reports. The plan is designed to gradually increase the percentage of their pay derived from performance goals. There’s no cap on that percentage.

While the UT System wouldn’t be the first university system in the nation to create such a pay plan, the proposal comes after reports this spring that Texas already has some of the highest-paid higher education leaders in the nation.

For the salary and total compensation of all higher ed administrators in Texas, read this report from the Legislative Budget Board.

Critics of higher education have targeted administrative bloat, the lack of productivity of tenured faculty, the record debt of about $1 trillion for college graduates nationally, and poor results in college student learning.

Would the bonus system do anything to address those criticisms? By one testing measure, UT Austin students do no better than their peers at other institutions by demonstrating no marked improvement between freshman and senior years, the Washington Post reported. Perhaps the 15 UT System campus presidents should have some measure of accountability for these results, as well as when learning outcomes improve.

Americans grew accustomed to well-paid corporate executives when times were good. If they make the company profitable, give them incentive pay.

However, Americans have witnessed some real head scratchers involving performance pay when companies received bailouts. One of the more famous ones in recent years was the controversy over bonuses paid to American International Group executives after the company crashed and received a taxpayer bailout.

So it might be worthwhile to put safeguards in this UT executive performance-pay plan if events don’t go as planned.

***
Contact Curt Olson at curt@texaswatchdog.org or 512-557-3800. Follow him on Twitter @olson_curt.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitterand Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feed in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, NewsVine and tumblr.

Photo of UT's Main Building by flickr user ThisIsNotApril, used via a Creative Commons license.

UT's Francisco Cigarroa and William Powers Jr. among nation's highest-paid public college executives
Monday, Apr 04, 2011, 06:29PM CST
By Steve Miller

Two Texas university presidents are among the nation’s top paid public college execs, according to this item in the Chron. But neither University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa or UT President William Powers Jr. can top the salary of fellow UT "educator" Mack Brown.

 

The annual Chronicle of Higher Education survey of university salaries reports that Cigarroa made $750,000 in academic year 2009-2010, while Powers was paid $746,738. They came in a distant second and third to the president of Ohio State University, who made $1.3 million.

 

With perks such as deferred compensation, Cigarroa’s total pay was $813,892.

 

But Brown last year made an estimated $5.1 million. So esteemed is the head football coach that dialing up the Longhorns Web site includes his name in the URL. As long as they have their priorities straight over at UT.

 

Referring to the Chronicle for Higher Education study, the Wall Street Journal reports that top-tier public university presidents received average raises of 1 percent last year. The article also points out:

In Austin, for instance, University of Texas Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa is asking lawmakers to limit proposed reductions in the state's funding of higher education, even as his compensation was third highest, by total cost of employment, among public-university leaders in America.

***

Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.


Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpaceDiggFriendFeed, NewsVine and tumblr.


Photo of UT band by flickr user ilovemypit, used via a Creative Commons license.

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