Both schools already let go of some non-tenured faculty and staff in response to requests for state agencies to cut 5 percent from their current biennium budgets. Since that first cut, which disproportionately affected institutions of higher education, another 2.5 percent cut was ordered for the current budget, and there are recommendations for a 10 percent reduction in the next biennium budget. To meet the new targets, universities began offering buyouts to tenured faculty.
Tenured faculty members, whose jobs come with a guarantee of employment, got a carrot for leaving instead of a stick moving them to the door. The University of Texas offered buyouts over the summer to 71 tenured professors in the College of Liberal Arts. The criteria: A person's age plus his or her years on the faculty had to exceed 93. The professors were offered a lump-sum payment equaling two years of salary if they left at the end of the fall semester, and they had until October 18 to decide.
Twenty-seven faculty members in the College of Liberal Arts accepted the offer, and their departures are expected to save the college $2.4 million a year. Four more in fine arts and communication also accepted buyouts.
Texas A&M's flagship campus also extended offers to tenured professors who had worked there for at least 15 years. The 104 faculty members who accepted them received nine months' to 18 months' pay and can work through August 31. The university expects to save more than $15 million a year.