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September 2017

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System@Work | September 2017

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Board Approves FY 2018 System Budget

The UT System Board of Regents unanimously approved an $18.3 billion operating budget for FY 2018 during its August meeting—up slightly (2.5 percent) from the previous fiscal year. The budget includes an additional $176 million for instruction and academic support activities, $94 million more for hospital and clinic activities, and an increase in the share of the Available University Fund (AUF) that will go to UT Austin for excellence ($338 million). The new fiscal year began September 1.

“There is no other university system in the state with the size, scope and reach of the University of Texas System,” Regents Chairman Paul Foster said. “As a board, we have a deep commitment to the state of Texas to ensure budget priorities support the critically important education, research and health care missions of UT institutions.”

The FY 2018 budget reflects the Board of Regents’ goal of making System Administration “leaner” while focusing on efforts that support the institutions. Only 15 percent of the portion of AUF funding available to UT System will be allocated to System Administration—a reduction of $15.6 million (14 percent) for FY 2018—and those resources will be used almost exclusively to provide core functions and direct services to UT institutions. The FY 2018 budget also reflects the cost savings associated with cutting 186 FTEs from the FY 2017 totals, including the return of audit positions from System Administration back to the institutions.

“The 2018 budget focuses on providing support for students, faculty and patients and it reduces System Administration budget and personnel,” Chancellor McRaven said. “Make no mistake, our mission is to support the 14 UT institutions and the students and patients they serve.”

The budget reflects increased revenue as well as expenses system-wide. The combined revenues of $18.8 billion are up 3.1 percent from FY 2017, thanks primarily to growth in health-related institutions medical practice plans; net investment income, mostly at MD Anderson Cancer Center and UT System Administration; and additional tuition and fees resulting from increased enrollment and a slight rate increase. State appropriations are down by 1.2 percent.

As part of the budget presentation, Chancellor McRaven expressed his appreciation and respect for System Administration employees’ qualifications, experience and service, a sentiment echoed by Chairman Foster.

This fall, the System Administration executive team will develop a plan to achieve the Board of Regents’ goal of cutting operating expenses by $5.7 million. Similar to last year, the team will begin by considering cuts to non-personnel expenses.   

Gold lettering on a certificate that reads 'Certificate of Honor'

New Awards Program to Honor Outstanding Employees

Last November, the UT System Board of Regents approved an Employee Advisory Council (EAC) recommendation to create a Regents’ Outstanding Employee Awards program as a way to honor exemplary non-teaching staff.  During the August board meeting, regents approved a $350,000 budget for the awards program to recognize staff members representing every institution plus System Administration.

Designed similarly to the Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Awards, up to 30 staff members are expected to receive a $10,000 award for exceptional performance beginning in FY 2018.  The EAC has developed evaluation criteria in the areas of performance, customer and community service, contributions to the institutions/system, and teamwork.

Details for the nomination process also are being developed, with a committee of EAC executive officers and representatives from UT System offices assigned to review the nominations and select the award recipients.

A desktop with laptop, brochure, cup and plant.

We’ve Moved On!

Moves into the new building are nearly complete with just a few groups scheduled to move in the coming weeks. Over the month of August, more than 500 System Administration employees in over 30 departments were moved from six different buildings in Austin into the new UT System building, with moves taking place approximately every three days, including weekends. Executing this complex plan required everyone’s help and cooperation, but special thanks go to the Facilities Management team who planned it all, the OFPC group that ensured the construction was completed on time (and under budget!) and the Move Coordinators who led the coordination and communication in each department.

It’s understandable that some may want their workspace configured differently since everyone works in a different way. Please wait and let Facilities Management staff move the furniture to ensure the warranties are not compromised and no one is injured—ask your Move Coordinator to submit a Work Order. FM will try to respond quickly to requests to move modular furniture, such as tables and cabinets. For more significant changes, FM will be responding first to immediate issues involving safety and functionality. Please try living in the space for a while and then if you still feel you need a different configuration or workspace, FM will work with department heads and managers to determine whether changes can be made.

“Move Updates” emailed from Paul Cravens provide the latest information and tips to help with the adjustment into the new space.

A man holds a computer mouse, next to a keyboard and monitor.

Tech Tips from Techies

Part of settling into the new building involves working the kinks out of new technology and learning new processes for using the technology available. “We will continue to discover quirks over the coming months and OTIS will try to keep those noted on our UT System building blog,” says Jim Gary, director of the Office of Technology Information Services (OTIS).

Jim and his team offer the following tips and updates to make your IT interactions more productive.

Conference Rooms

OTIS and OFPC staff have reviewed all of the conference room technologies over the past two weeks and everything now appears to be working properly. The OTIS team will be documenting the functionality in the conference rooms and are preparing to conduct floor-by-floor training and demonstrations starting after Labor Day. 

In the meantime, all the technologies in the rooms are accessible from the white Crestron touchpad mounted on the wall in each conference room.  Most of the conference rooms have a PC with wireless keyboard and mouse, along with “Airmedia” software to allow display from a laptop or mobile device.  Many rooms also have an integrated phone line accessed from the Crestron touchpad – this is where you will answer incoming calls or dial out.   

There is a designated videoconference room on each floor, although any conference room with a camera installed should be capable of supporting a Skype for Business (or Skype/Zoom/WebEx/AdobeConnect/etc.) session. However, not all of these programs have been installed or tested so please test in advance. Contact OTIS for assistance.

In-room audio is one area where you may experience surprise, especially related to the volume level. This can cause a scramble to find the “turn it down NOW” control so it’s best if you locate this control before starting any audio source (PC sound, phone call, video call). 


Printers in the new building use Follow Me Print (FMP) software, allowing users to print from their workstation and retrieve their documents from any FMP printer in the building. Simply swipe your ID badge at the printer of your choice to see your queue of documents waiting to print. Users can also ask the Help Desk for a four-digit code that allows them to log on if they don’t have their badge. Users can also provide their code to support or onsite staff if they are not available to retrieve their print jobs themselves.


Faxing can be done via software on the user workstation as well as on designated physical printers.

Faxing from the workstation—To fax from your workstation, send a request to the Help Desk to have the necessary software installed. Once installed, users will select Rightfax Fax Printer and hit “print.” That will open the interface where the destination information can be entered.

Faxing from a physical printer—if your department needs a physical fax machine, contact the Help Desk to have the appropriate software installed on the selected device. Just as with printing, users will swipe to log on to the printer, select the Rightfax icon and login (if an email copy notification is desired) or select “guest fax” to continue and enter the destination information.

Detailed instructions and other tips for using technology in the building can be found on the IT blog.

Idea Central

Finding the Right Child/Elder Care Provider Is One Call Away

A suggestion was made through Idea Central that on-site childcare be provided for System Administration employees. The Shark Tank (the group charged with reviewing “Big Ideas” and making recommendations to executive leadership) agreed, but after researching the idea they determined the expense, liability and logistics made it unfeasible. However, UT System does provide assistance to employees seeking quality care for their children, as well as for aging adults.

Finding the right caregiver can be tough, so UT System has contracted with LifeCare, an interactive website that provides assistance with work and life needs. Representatives specializing in childcare and adult/elder care are available by phone to assist with finding providers who meet specific criteria and desired proximity to work or home.

Just follow these instructions to log in or create an account. Once on the LifeCare site, select “Get Expert Help” and dial the number provided. From the menu, press “1” for child care and “3” for adult/elder care. You’ll be connected to a LifeCare specialist who will compile a list of providers that best matches your family’s needs.

A red flag pinned to a map.

On the Road to HR Improvements

The UT System Office of Human Relations (HR) is introducing its new strategic plan to better attract, develop and retain talent while also increasing efficiency and reducing costs. This “Roadmap” is based on feedback from UT institutions and System Administration staff, as well as best practices research.

Led by Chief HR Officer Kim Sullivan, the team began by reviewing, eliminating, or updating existing processes to enhance efficiencies. Staff members are now organized to better provide solutions tailored to meet the specific needs of the organization and employee.

Amber Powell is managing a centralized service center team tasked with automating administrative processes that will provide System Administration employees with easier access to HR resources, such as job postings, new position requests and orientation. Stephanie Gill is overseeing the HR Business Partner team, which works directly with department heads to address their needs for workforce planning, new talent programs, tools for career development and retention, and compensation matters such as reclassifications and promotions. Kendra Bolton will expand the wellness program to also focus on programs and measurements for employee engagement. In addition, “centers of expertise” are being developed within the HR team to concentrate on talent management and compensation.

Some of the initiatives HR will implement this fall include a new performance management process and career development tools; an enhanced onboarding experience for new hires; a pay-for-performance program; eForms and PeopleDocs electronic capabilities to reduce the need for paper forms or reports.

HR emailed System Administration employees invitations to attend information sessions scheduled for September and October to learn more about the new plans and processes.

Group photo of the Budget Team.

Team Keeps UT System on Budget

Once the UT System Board of Regents approves the annual budget, the five-person team within the Controller’s Office has a short time to get a lot of work done before the new fiscal year begins September 1. That includes entering the budgets into PeopleSoft, ensuring bills are set up to be paid accurately, informing department heads of their budgets, and coordinating with HR to confirm salary adjustments are correct . This year, all of that work was accomplished in just eight days!

Led by Chief Budget Officer/Controller Randy Wallace the budget team includes Alan Werchan, Theresa Carney, Sherill Franke and Jenny Mueller. While each has their own specific area of responsibility, together they develop and oversee the annual budget for the entire UT System. Their goal is to provide realistic, meaningful and easy-to-understand information that helps the Board of Regents and leaders at UT institutions make educated financial decisions.

You would think they could relax now, but preparing for the next year’s budget begins almost immediately after the new year begins September 1. The budget team begins coordinating with System and institution leaders to help them develop draft budgets that meet the regents’ approved budget preparation policies and budget calendar. They provide detailed technical review and guidance for the institutions’ budgets, then summarize and consolidate the final version that is considered by the Board of Regents at its August meeting.

Developing the FY 2018 budget was especially difficult because no one knew just how much state support they would receive until the legislative session ended in late May. Additionally, the budget team is responsible during legislative sessions for analyzing any bill that could have potential financial impact on System Administration or the UT institutions both internally and in response to requests from the Legislative Budget Board (LBB).  The financial impact analysis (fiscal notes) provided to the LBB requires the team to review the bill, collect and aggregate responses from the institutions and estimate the five-year impact to the UT System the legislation would have if passed. Sometimes those reports must be turned around within just a few hours and during this past session, the Controller’s Office responded to 607 fiscal note requests.

In addition to the challenges of the legislative session, the FY 2018 budget process was impacted by the board retreat in July. Working with the departments, the budget team provided more than 150 pages of background materials to the regents for consideration during the retreat, then develop the final budget presented to the Board of Regents in August. Those efforts paid off with unanimous approval by the board and a comment by Regents Chairman Paul Foster that this was “an excellent budget.” He added, “I want to express my sincere gratitude to Chancellor McRaven and the UT System staff for their hard work in this effort.”

Now that FY2018 has begun, the budget team is back to work tracking and monitoring the budget—and gearing up for next year.

Illustration of house icons with hearts inside.

Open Hearts, Open Homes

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, employees across the UT System have come together to support one another and the students, patients and communities they serve. Many System Administration employees have asked what they can do to help those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. One very personal way to provide support is by opening your home to UT System employees and their families who have been displaced by the flooding. 

Whether you can host one person or a large family, for days or months, your hospitality is needed and appreciated. OTIS has created a form to collect information from those willing to serve as hosts. The Office of Human Resources will use the information to coordinate with HR offices at the institutions in affected areas to match those who can offer their homes with those who need a place to stay.

Chancellor McRaven sent a message listing various organizations that are seeking donations and/or volunteers, and a food drive is underway for the Central Texas Food Bank. Be cautious when giving money, though, as unfortunately the storm has also brought out criminals and scammers. Give only to charities that you know, but even then do not use an email link to give money in case they have been scammed. Instead, type the organization’s name into your browser and go directly to their site from there. Charity Navigator is a resource that offers tips and a list of worthy charities.

Building Communities. Fellowship. Opportunity. Gratitude. Leadership.

Charity Starts at System Administration

Each year, the State Employee Charitable Campaign (SECC) results in millions of dollars donated to charitable organizations across Texas. During the month of October, UT System Administration employees will have the opportunity to contribute to this year’s campaign and support organizations that are making a difference in our community.

State employees contributed more than $8.1 million through last year’s SECC, including over $78,000 from UT System Administration. Your help is needed to make the 2017 SECC even more successful. Charities you may want to support include organizations that provide services ranging from disaster relief, to helping domestic violence survivors, to mentoring teens, to minimizing environmental pollution, to elder care, and more.

The campaign will kick off on October 6 with a pancake breakfast hosted by Staff Council and conclude with a Halloween party on October 31. Stay tuned for more information about the SECC campaign, the new online contribution platform, and how you can make a difference. In the meantime, please reach out to your UT System Administration Staff Council representative if you have any questions.

Wellness Corner

Suggestions Invited for Wellness Center

To ensure the Wellness Center offers the programs and services that best serve employees, all are invited to submit questions and suggestions through Operations will be tailored based on use, trends and requests.


Sept 4 Labor Day Holiday
Sept. 12 HR Information Session, 10 a.m. – Noon, Room 2.206 or via Skype
Sept. 13 HR Information Session, 10 a.m. – Noon or 2 p.m. – 4 p.m., Room 2.206 or via Skype
Sept. 21 “Block 82 Uncommon Knowledge and Unconventional Wisdom for UT System Employees” Speaker Series, Noon – 1 p.m., Room 2.206, (Speaker: Winslow Sargeant), RSVP here