Gov. Greg Abbott’s hiring freeze may affect UT

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Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Gov. Greg Abbott imposed a hiring freeze on state agencies during his State of the State address last Tuesday, and UT officials said university hiring may be affected.

Abbott said the freeze, which prevents agencies from posting new jobs or filling vacant positions, will last until the end of August and would save the state about $200 million for other initiatives. There are currently 252 open positions for UT campuses and 174 open positions for the main campus, according to the UT Austin Job Search.

“UT Austin administrators are working with UT System leaders to clarify the overall impact and understand the processes for hiring in light of the freeze,” UT spokesperson J.B. Bird said. “Our provost is working with academic leaders on faculty hiring to meet the critical educational needs of UT Austin’s students.”

UT System spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo said hirings depend on whether a campus is funded by the state or other streams of funding. According to the Texas Tribune, Abbott’s office said four-year public universities receive only 30 percent of their money from the state, so hirings will not be greatly affected.

“It is important to note that UT campuses have a variety of funding sources, and the impact of the freeze will vary from campus to campus,” LaCoste-Caputo said in an email.

In a letter dated Jan. 31 from the Governor’s Office to state agencies, budget director Steven Albright wrote agencies that do not receive funding from state appropriations are exempt from the freeze.

“This directive only affects agencies under the direction of the Governor as well as institutions of higher education,” Albright wrote in the letter. “This directive does not affect agencies under the direction of other statewide elected officials.”

In the letter, Albright said agencies may receive waivers from the governor’s office to be exempt on a case-by-case basis. LaCoste-Caputo said UT and its campuses may ask for waivers if the University deems certain positions necessary, including those directly tied to public safety.

“Our hope is that the freeze will not mean that faculty and other positions important to serving our students and patients and advancing our institutions and Texas higher education go unfilled,” LaCoste-Caputo said.

There are 56 full-time jobs open for the J.J. Pickle Research Campus in North Austin, a UT off-campus research site that houses research in areas such as engineering, chemistry and physics. Many of the campus’ jobs posted are for engineering scientists, research associates and software developers.

Bird said in an email to The Daily Texan the research campus usually has that number of jobs available and often employs graduate students.

“The number of jobs listed currently at Pickle is very typical at any given time. A similar percentage of the open jobs at UT Austin will be for positions located at the Pickle Research campus,” Bird wrote.

Agencies headed by elected officials that are exempt from the freeze include the Texas Supreme Court and the Attorney General’s Office. The Department of Family and Protective Services agency is exempt because Abbott made reforming the Child Protective Services an emergency item.