UT Faculty Respond to 'Shared Services'

Faculty asks president to withdraw "privatization scheme"

UT-Austin President Bill Powers
UT-Austin President Bill Powers (Photo by John Anderson)

In an April 8 letter addressed to UT-Austin President Bill Powers, three distinguished faculty members – joined by at least 108 others – asked Powers to withdraw support for the "Shared Services" plan to eliminate as many as 500 staff positions in order to improve "business productivity" on campus. Powers had endorsed the plan in a memo the previous week.

The faculty letter, co-authored by Associate Professor of English Mia Carter, Law Professor Julius Getman, and Senior Lecturer in Radio-Television-Film Anne Lewis, "implores" Powers to withdraw his support for the plan, and defends the importance of university staff members. It reads in part, "Implementation of the proposed shared services plan, whether touted as a series of “pilot” experiments or done wholesale, will inevitably endanger one of the foundations of this university's greatness—the sense of community that joins together faculty, staff, and students. Our multitalented, abundantly generous, highly skilled, deeply committed and invested staff is an essential element of our community."

In a brief March 31 memorandum addressed to "Members of the University Community," Powers had provided his "full endorsement" to the plan, and directed Vice President Kevin Hegarty to carry it out "in a thoughtful manner that is customized to our campus."

Powers' memorandum is available here. The full faculty letter, which is gathering additional signatures, can be read here.

Read more on the rollout of Shared Services in this week's print edition of the Chronicle, on newsstands (and online) April 17.

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