Drastic cuts to funding are a growing concern for universities in the Texas A&M system. Senate Bill 1, introduced earlier this year as part of the state’s General Appropriations Bill, may result in double-digit budget cuts for several system campuses for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
Texas A&M International University was among those named, with approximately forty percent ($20 million) of its annual budget at stake.
Officials from across the A&M system have already voiced their concerns over SB1 to legislators. System Chancellor John Sharp, along with over fifty officials from A&M schools, testified before the Senate Finance Committee in late January. They stressed that these budget cuts would severely affect the quality of education offered at their respective universities.
Univeristy President Dr. Pablo Arenaz shared similar views when asked about the possible repercussions the bill could have on TAMIU.
“This would certainly impact our operations and offerings. As we have shared with our leadership in Austin, it could potentially lead to the loss of 117 faculty positions and cancel 800 courses, dramatically reducing time to degree completion for TAMIU students,” said Arenaz.
Though these cuts would not take effect immediately, Arenaz understands the cause for concern among TAMIU students and faculty.
“It’s really too soon to discuss long-term impact on future students for something that has not been finalized, but our commitment to current and future students, their education and their program completion remains steadfast,” said Arenaz.
Similarly, he believes the university will thrive regardless of the outcome.
“This would certainly be a challenge, but TAMIU has often been called upon to do more with less, and has continued to earn impressive regional and national accolades.”
Arenaz also pointed out that SB1 is not the only legislation concerning funding for universities.
“As troubling as this may seem, we realize that the budget process has just begun and, predictably, both Senate and House versions differ significantly. The House bill features less drastic measures, and allocates about $1 billion to special items funding statewide — only $99.7 million less compared to the current budget,” explained Arenaz.
Overall, Arenaz remains confident that communicating with legislators will allow for a solution that satisfies all parties. He urged students and their parents to do the same.
“We are confident that, working together, we will all emerge with a budget that supports and affirms the importance of higher education remaining accessible and viable here in South Texas and across our State.”