UT Senate’s advisory committees to be fully formed by September

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The College Tuition and Budget Advisory Committees proposed by the Senate of College Councils for all 16 University colleges are scheduled to be fully formed by the end of September, said Senate president Carisa Nietsche.

The Senate of College Councils began developing plans for advisory committees in April 2010, Nietsche said. She said they developed in response to the state-mandated budget cuts to allow students to become directly involved in the allocation of their college’s budget.

Nietsche said last spring, six college advisory committees were formed including the colleges of natural sciences, liberal arts, business, fine arts, public affairs and the information school. She said the remaining 10 colleges will form their advisory committees by September.

“We are waiting to see what the other CTBACs’ relationships with deans will be like,” Nietsche said.

Nietsche said the Senate of College Councils is forming an advisory committee roundtable next semester that will bring together the chairs of every advisory committee in one meeting to encourage more Universitywide trends. She said the roundtable will help new committees get fully formed and ease them into the process of working directly with administrators.

“As of now we have a designated chair for almost every CTBAC at the University,” Nietsche said. “I think it’ll be surprising to see how many commonalities there are between colleges. I want to see if they are prioritizing research or merit increases for faculty members.”

Former College of Natural Sciences advisory committee chair Justin Price said the importance of an advisory committee is both to advise administrators on how students decipher budget spending and to provide transparency to students on how the budget is spent.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about how funds are being used,” Price said. “Students don’t understand how we can build new buildings but can’t pay faculty. We need to educate students on the fact that we have state building funds that are separate from academic funds. The same goes for athletic funds.”

Liberal Arts Dean Randy Diehl said the advisory committee for the college was an extremely helpful asset to the budget process last spring despite being newly formed. He said he supported the forming of a CTBAC from the beginning.
“I had very good discussions with the Liberal Arts Council and Student Government about the role the CTBAC could play,” Diehl said. “I found the committee to be particularly helpful. Their approach was thorough.”

Diehl said the committee gave detailed recommendations about the proposed budget cuts and reallocation, especially with the discussions about how to allocate money to ethnic and identity studies centers, a controversial challenge last academic year.

Diehl said it is important for administrators to embrace the work of advisory committees and to provide newly formed advisory committees with the background information needed to be informed on the budget process specific to their college.

College of Natural Sciences advisory committee chair Houdah Abualtin said the most important part of forming an advisory committee is focusing on recruiting dedicated members and creating a strong team unity.

Abualtin said once an advisory committee is formed and functioning, it is crucial that all members of the committee begin making connections with the college deans and administrators. She said in order to do this, committee members must play off of the personalities of the people they are trying to meet with.

“What gets done always depends on the administrators,” Abualtin said. “Some are already willing to work with students and others have to be eased into it. You have to be humble when working with them and show them you’re serious about what you want.”