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 asking for people to work together to come up with solutions that could prevent layoffs, tuition increases, wage cuts and other financial burdens, he lied to the audience. In particular when he was asked about the $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 nearly $70 million dollars UT needs in the biennium. However, when UT Watch filed an Open Records Request we 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. This is close to half of the money that Faulkner claims we need for the next two years, but he ignores it when arguing that he needs to increase tuition again.
UT President Larry Faulkner, addressing students, staff, and faculty on February 27, 2003.
The University is known for the substantial donations it receives; its alumni are behind only Harvard in gift giving. Looking only at donations between September of 1997, the start of the We're Texas! campaign, and 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. $30 million came with no strings attached. It is surprising that Faulkner disavowed knowledge of the unrestricted funds during the forum; we expected him to just skirt the question, trying to avoid the fact that UT always has money, or the capacity to get money from sources other than students. The unrestricted funds as part of the We're Texas! campaign are only the starting point - other questions remain unanswered, and the administration will always repond with avoiding a straight answer, say there's nothing they could do about it, or as in this case, lie. In a meeting with Kevin Hegarty, Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer, he argued that the unrestricted funds from the We're Texas! campaign amounted to very little. Prior to returning to his alma mater, Hegarty worked for 25 years in corporate America, spending some time at Dell. He brings this experience with him to the University to ignore the sky-high paychecks of the administration while cutting every corner, including trying to put a squeeze on the Daily Texan even though they receive no funding from the state at all. The problem with this approach, even in dire times like these, is that we have the money!
Students, faculty and staff should demand that this unrestricted money be used before tuition is increased, wages cut or people are laid off!