Supporting Longview Students

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I want to thank Texas Bank and Trust of Longview for their generous support of the Longview University Center. Recently we celebrated the establishment of the Texas Bank and Trust Endowed Scholarship. The fund was established to provide financial assistance to students attending the Longview University Center. Pictured are (from left): Jennifer Harris, Texas Bank and Trust Vice President for Business Development; Tom Tibiletti, Vice Chair of the UT Tyler Longview University Center Development Council; me; Rogers Pope Jr., CEO of Texas Bank and Trust; Kevin Hood, President and COO of Texas Bank and Trust; and Karen Partee, Chief Marketing Officer for Texas Bank and Trust. We are grateful to Texas Bank and Trust for their generous gift.

What does it really mean to do more with less?

Americans often hear how governmental agencies, higher education institutions, and even households have learned to “do more with less” over the past few years.

In higher education, “doing more with less” is used to describe how universities are required to meet an increasing demand for new programs, technology, services and accountability while also facing a decrease in state funding per student.

In recent years, the state funding model has changed. As legislators experience increased pressure to spend on a growing number of state needs, higher education has received smaller and smaller pieces of the Texas budget.

In 1995, UT Tyler received 49% of its total funding from state appropriations. Today, that’s down to 34%.

One of the charges leveled at universities is that tuition is increasing faster than inflation. While it is true that tuition has increased, those increases are largely due to the drastic drop in state funding per student. In fact, the net result of those two opposing trends (rising tuition and falling state funding per student) has been a decrease in total university revenue per student.

Components of Total Operating Revenue BudgetFor example, according to UT System calculations, UT Tyler received $10,967 in state funding per student in 2001-02. Add to that our net tuition revenue per student of $2,404, and our total revenue per student was $13,371.

Ten years later, in 2011-12, state funding per student had dropped to $6,238 and net tuition revenue had increased to only $4,586 per student for a total of $10,824. We talk about doing more with less. How about $2,500 less per student?

During that 10-year time period we have worked diligently to build the programs and services necessary to provide quality educational opportunities. Our students asked for additional facilities and programs, so we added several buildings, including the David G. and Jacqueline M. Braithwaite Building for nursing, the Bill Ratliff Engineering and Sciences Complex, a campus health clinic and the Ornelas Residence Hall.

We implemented two Ph.D. programs while also expanding the number of graduate and undergraduate programs. We have created the College of Engineering and Computer Science and the Ben and Maytee Fisch College of Pharmacy.

Just in the past two years, UT Tyler has added new technology to enhance online learning and implemented academic support programs such as peer tutoring. Those of us at this institution certainly understand the challenges facing families in East Texas today. We are working as diligently as possible to give our students the technology and programs they need without putting undue financial burden on those students.

Although tuition has increased over the last decade as a result of the drop in state funding per student, we have attempted to keep those increases at a reasonable level while still maintaining a quality product. Our tuition has not increased nearly enough to offset state redistribution in per-student funding.

So, as you can see, we are truly doing more with less.

There’s a Reason Why Tuition is Rising Rapidly

One of the charges leveled at universities is that tuition is skyrocketing.  While it is true that tuition has increased at a greater rate than inflation over the past several years, it is also true that state funding per student has fallen at the same time.  In fact, for the vast majority of public universities, the net result of these two opposing trends (rising tuition and falling state funding per student) has been a decrease in actual total revenue per student, resulting in most of us doing more with less.

Take UT Tyler as an example. In 2002, our university received $10,967 in state funding per student.  Add to that our net tuition revenue per student of $2,404, and our total revenue per student was $13,371.  Fast-forward to 2011, and state funding per student was $6,238 while net tuition revenue was $4,586 per student, giving us a total of $10,824.  Therefore, even though tuition went up, UT Tyler’s actual total revenue decreased by over $2,500 per student. Multiply that decline in revenue per student by our enrollment, and we are looking at something like $12 million fewer dollars in our budget.

Universities understand the financial challenges facing families today, and we are certainly willing to do our part to “tighten our belts.”  However, like any business, we must maintain a reasonable level of revenue in order to produce a quality product.