GOVERNOR CONFIRMS BUDGET CRUNCH WOES

by Melinda McBride

Daily Cougar Staff

UH's spiral down the higher education funding staircase defies what Gov. Ann Richards calls "the economy's sluggish" climb back up.

Richards, in a recent letter to the chairman of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, claims that the modest growth in the economy is colliding with the stark realities of the state's budget situation.

"Given the budget pressures and the limited revenues available," Richards explained, "it is unrealistic for institutions of higher education to expect much in the way of additional funds in 1994-1995."

Since the government works in biennial legislative sessions, that means, at best, no additional money for the 1993 school year.

UH President James Pickering acknowledged the ax has been falling for months. "This on-going shortfall is real. We've got a state-wide problem in higher education, so we're going to have to figure out a way to be part of the solution, not part of the problem."

Pickering admits that forming strategic growth plans to maintain UH standards under a 'zero growth' plan means tough decisions lie ahead.

Zero growth, as outlined by Richards, means the Legislature's "starting point for budgeting institutions of higher education will assume (no increases)" from the 1992-93 budget.

With Richards emphasizing the possibility that even funding can't be guaranteed, Pickering and other administrative officials have been discussing "how to hold on to what we have.

"There's a series of factors we will consider before we make any decisions, any cuts," Pickering said. "Is it a quality program? I'd say all of ours are. But does it meet the needs of the students -- are there enough takers to justify it?

"There are going to have to be some areas more important than others."

Pickering said when the individual colleges have finished their reshaping plan (by January), the administration will have a better idea of the areas immediately affected.

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SA SENATE ON ROAD TO RECOVERY; NEW SENATORS SWORN IN

by Melinda McBride

Daily Cougar Staff

The Students' Association's struggle to recruit and retain interested senators ebbed during Monday's meeting as eight senator candidates were nominated to fill 12 vacancies.

Two of the eight candidates took their oath of office during Monday night's meeting, paving the way to a full senate of 29 college representatives, four at-large senators, a president and a vice president.

SA membership plummeted after April's election when the former president-elect was found guilty of ballot-stuffing. However, the organization has begun to fill all vacancies.

"My friend was the HRM senator but had to resign (because of a scheduling conflict)," said Greg Wassberg, HRM junior and one of the senators sworn in last night.

Wassberg decided to run for office so his "opinion will be the voice of the majority of the students." The 20-year-old former high-school student council member said he's already involved with the college.

"I'm helping them put together a golf classic and an upcoming softball tournament among other things, so if any laws are going to be passed pertaining to the hotel school -- if anybody cares how the hotel school thinks -- I feel that that's me. I'd be a good focal point. I'd be a good liaison."

And as the senate takes on a new group of students, introducing fresh ideas and new perspectives, Senate Speaker John Bard said that's exactly what the rejuvenated senate needs.

"Right now, I'm trying to get all the senators to set up a town meeting to meet with their constituents in their individual colleges for two hours, one day a month," explained Bard of his plan for students to sponsor or ultimately write relevant student-related legislation.

Because of impending budget cuts in the College of Engineering, Nivine Zakhari, the second senator sworn in last night, wants to represent the 3,000 engineering students on the university level.

"We had a meeting with a lot of engineering student representatives, and they were discussing increasing some fees to engineering students in order to make up for lack of revenue coming into the school to purchase equipment, computers and laboratory items," said the sophomore, who is now one of three College of Engineering senators.

While senators like Zakhari would like to resolve concerns at the college level, SA intends to be better-prepared to react to both college and university-wide student concerns as the organization approaches its goal of 34 members.

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PHYSICAL PLANT TAKING INITIAL STEPS IN RESTRUCTURING, SHEDDING FORMER IMAGE

by Meagan McGovern

Daily Cougar Staff

UH Administration and Finance took the first step in restructuring its division in preparation of imminent budget cuts.

Dennis Boyd, vice president for administration and finance, presented his reorganized division at the University Planning and Policies Council meeting Monday.

Because Texas is facing a huge deficit, cuts in higher education are expected during the next legislative session. The UPPC is overseeing UH's reshaping as prompted by expected budget cuts.

All UH departments and divisions will be redefined during this exercise. The UPPC plans to start with a look at how the school currently spends its money and how well the university is functioning according to its goals.

Boyd said the restructuring of his department was not his contribution to the reshaping, but rather a precursor to it. He said the overall changes in the university affecting his department would not take place until next summer, but that might be too long to wait for certain changes.

The areas Boyd is responsible for include the Physical Plant and all areas of financial affairs. Boyd said several functions in the area of business affairs, such as the postal service, the printing plant, parking and purchasing, have been moved to the associate vice president for Plant and Operation.

The old organization "was inadequate for effective component analysis," according to a document presented at the meeting, which means the division would have had trouble assessing its own needs during the restructuring process.

The new organization "establishes a stabilized environment to effect the recommendations to the strategic plan," states the same document, meaning the new structure will be easily examined to find ways of saving money and running more efficiently during the upcoming reorganization.

"We're trying to focus in a way we can hold people more accountable," said Boyd. "There have been some voices of discontent both from the inside and outside of the Physical Plant."

The Physical Plant has recently been the target of a discrimination lawsuit from a former employee, as well as being targeted for allegations of misuse of property by the physical plant.

"Those were not the compelling reasons for our reorganization, but this will strengthen the whole structure and as a result, deal with some of the issues," Boyd said.

"We have had certain financial activities that turned out badly. We really needed certain financial controls," he said.

The physical plant was in a difficult position, said Boyd. "They're in a tough spot. If they do their job perfectly, no one notices. If they don't, everyone notices."

"We think it's the right thing to do right now. We think it's optimistic, timely and appropriate," he said.

Boyd said there had been no cutbacks under his reorganization, but he had no such guarantees during the next reshaping exercise. "We'll have to see. These are very difficult considerations. During these budget restrictions, one of our main goals is to protect employees."

"I'll be very careful when I fill vacancies in the next year. I'd much rather not fill a position, than have to fire some one later," he added.

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PRIORITY REGISTRATION CUTS WAITING PERIOD, ENABLES STUDENTS TO MAIL CHECK, SAVE TIME

by Melissa Neeley

Daily Cougar Staff

UH Students who plan on spring semester priority registration can drop their checks in the mail and drop out of long lines. Other students will have to wait to pay their fees at the UC during regular registration.

For the fall semester, students could pay their fee bills by mail for regular registration and save an extra trip to campus, said Mario Lucchesi, director of Registration and Academic Records.

For spring 1993, however, those who regular register will not be able to pay their fees by mail, he said. Students regular registering must go to the UC, pick up their schedule/fee bill, and pay there, he said.

"There is not enough time coming back from the holidays to do a registration, the course adjustments, generating of fee bills, mailing out fee bills and getting back the fee bills. Three to four weeks is needed to do that," Lucchesi said.

Students who priority register will have better chances of getting the classes they need, according to Lucchesi. One reason he cited is students priority registering can go through the registration process between class breaks.

"We want to stress to everyone to go through priority registration. Why ask why regular registration can't be mailed out? Instead, go to priority registration and get into the mail-out," he said.

Phyllis Bradley, of the Bursar Office, says that most students she interacts with have positive reactions toward paying their fees by mail.

"From the feedback I'm getting from the students, they certainly appreciate it (mail fee payment). And it certainly helps us not to have to deal with 10,000-12,000 people in one or two days," Bradley said.

In the future, UH will give ample time to students to pay their fees by mail; the calendar for this semester, however, is already set so dates can not be changed, she said.

Students who either priority register or regular register must get their payments in on time or their courses will be cancelled, she said.

By law, students cannot get extensions on their fee payment dates, Bradley said.

"There are all kinds of ways that students can pay their bills. For example, if they qualify, they can get short-term loans. We cannot deal one by one (with) students who can't pay on the due date," Bradley said.

Most students enrolled now will priority register for the spring semester, Lucchesi said.

According to fall 1992 enrollment statistics published by the Office of Registration and Academic Records, 18,346 students out of UH's total population of 32,802 priority registered -- almost 56 percent.

Last spring, 74 percent priority registered or 23,624 students out of UH's final head count of 31,840. Lucchesi said that it's typical for more students to priority register in spring than in fall.

Students wanting to priority register can go to their colleges on Nov. 9-10 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Those who realize that they need to add or drop a class before they go on vacation can go to 111 E. Cullen the week of Nov. 30 to Dec. 4. The times for priority add/drop will be listed in the class schedule which will be released later this semester.

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BUSINESS SCHOOL ENDWOMENTS TOP $3 MILLION, FOURTH-LARGEST COLLEGE TOTAL

by Tom Anderson

Daily Cougar Staff

The College of Business Administration pulled in the fourth largest UH research endowment for its 91-92 programs -- more than $3.5 million.

The College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics received the largest endowment, College of Engineering placed second and the Texas for Superconductivity came in third.

The college's main concentration includes studying abroad and assisting Houston's small business owners.

Federal and state government funding, as well as industry and private foundation grants, underwrite programs including the Yago Madrid MBA Program, the Small Business Development Center and research on public education.

The Yago Madrid MBA Program has received more than $1 million this year. The program, headed by Dean John Ivancevich and Arthur Jago, is a partnership between Spain's Madrid Business School and UH.

MBA students at the Madrid school travel to Houston to study, and faculty from U.S. universities travel to Madrid to teach, said Sara Freedman, assistant dean for Academics and Research.

"UH also designs curriculum for the Madrid Business School," said Freedman. "The faculty gains international exposure, and participants benefit from international interaction with faculty and students."

The funding pays for the salary of faculty members and travel between Madrid and Houston, said Freedman.

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) received more than $1.8 million in federal, state and private funds this year. The center exists to support and instruct small business owners in several areas, said Elizabeth Gatewood, who heads the center.

SBDC has chapters in every U.S. state, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

SBDC has been declared "revenue-neutral," which means the center generates as much or more money into economy than it consumes in government funds, Gatewood said.

Gatewood said the center also educates business owners on exporting their products. The center has computerized databases that alert businesses to possible export opportunities and to government calls for bids.

Also, a partnership between Lotus, IBM and the SBDC has made it possible for non-computer users to evaluate and experiment with computers in specific business situations, Gatewood said.

Business owners can even do their bookkeeping on computers once a month until they are familiar with the particular program, she said.

SBDC has a product development service that allows business owners to put their product on a database and receive feedback from four experts for a fee, Gatewood said.

Research conducted in the college that is funded by outside grants includes a project titled "Accountability in Public Education: An Assessment of the Private Sector's Perspective."

The more than $91,000 project researches ways public education can increase its accountability by incorporating the views of the private business sector, the public administration sector and the public education sector, said Richard Keller, professor of Management.

"We have done a preliminary report, and we will probably be out with a final report in about a month," Keller said. "Legislators want to be sure that more money will produce better students."

This project is supposed to recommend ways to ensure that greater accountability exists in public education and schools that are given more money will produce better students, he said.

During the summer, the college also receives funding for new faculty to begin research from the Research Initiative Grant Program, a university-wide service.

The Research Council reviewed the proposal submitted by a new faculty member. And if his or her proposals are approved, up to $6,000 will be awarded to the individual to get the research "off the ground," Freedman said.

 

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