We're Texas! Capital Campaign
At a forum on February 27th 2003, with University of Texas students and faculty, as well as other concerned individuals, President Faulkner addressed an issue facing everyone at UT-Austin, the $9.9 billion dollar Texas government's shortfall. Instead of attempting to find solutions that could prevent layoffs, tuition increases, wage cuts and other financial burdens, he misrepresented certain details when pressed with questions regarding UT financial situation. In particular when he was asked about the over $1 billion dollars gained from the “We're Texas” campaign of gifts and donations to the University he stated that none of that money could be used to make up the close to the $70 million dollars UT needs in the biennium.
However UT Watch recently filed an Open Records Request and discovered that although most of the “We're Texas” campaign money is earmarked for particular departments, programs and projects, almost $30 million dollars is actually in unrestricted cash and cash equivalents that can be used anywhere the administration wants. The money "may" be put into an endowment, but it's up to the administration to decide whether to use it when the University needs it or to store it and only use the minimal assets accumulated from interest. This $30 million is close to half of the money that Faulkner claims we need for the next two years, but it took an Open Records Request to find this out.
The University is known for the substantial donations it receives; its alumni are behind only Harvard's in money and gifts contributed. Looking only at donations between September of 1997, the start of the We're Texas! campaign, and as of January of 2003 the University has received a little more than $1.29 billion. Of this, $718 million comes in the form of cash and cash equivalents, with $30 million coming with no strings attached. In a meeting with Kevin Hegarty, the closest he got to admitting this was saying that the unrestricted funds component of the We're Texas! campaign was just a very small amount.
Some Background to the We're Texas! campaign
The University of Texas at Austin We're Texas! campaign began in 1997 with a goal of $1 billion by 2004. It has long since passed that mark and as of 4/30/2003 has accumulated $1.325 billion. The uses for the money include: professorships, scholarships, programs(pretty vague), new construction, and building renovations. Those donating cash, cash equivalents or other gifts to UT-Austin can designate their use, for example one can donate to the Engineering Department for an Endowment for a Professor.
The money that UT Watch found was unrestricted and not earmarked for a particular project. It is not clear that money donated in an unrestricted cash or equivalent form must be placed into an endowment; even if it does an endowment could still be created used to support scholarships or perhaps health insurance for staff.
1This data has been obtained from The Chronicle of Higher Education's website
Students, faculty and staff should demand that money be used before tuition is increased, wages cut or people are laid off!