The close of a years-long conundrum is on the horizon.
On Friday, Nov. 3, UTM Chancellor Dr. Keith Carver will present his decision for the university to not opt-in to the systemwide maintenance outsourcing at a meeting with the UT Board of Trustees.
Carver will make his presentation to the Finance and Administration Committee and Subcommittee on Efficiency and Cost Savings at 10:15 a.m. along with chancellors from UT Knoxville, UT Chattanooga and the Memphis Health Science Center, who all took the same final stance.
These decisions cannot be overturned by the board, and Carver said that he does not anticipate a future re-evaluation of the matter.
His answer to the proposal came on Oct. 31 through press release distribution that began at 9 a.m. It was supported by the faculty senate later that day in an approved motion that concluded: “Be it Resolved, that the UT Martin Faculty Senate supports Chancellor Carver’s decision to decline the proposal to outsource custodial, grounds keeping, and maintenance activities. ”
After doing a campus visit in August, contracted company Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. submitted a bid for UTM services around Oct. 12, as announced by UT System President Dr. Joe DiPietro. The company said it could save UTM $93,366 annually, according to a press release. However, after re-evaluation, the potential savings was less than $14,000.
Within the UTM press release it was also stated that the university plans to adopt some of the JLL proposed efficiency measures. The majority of the projected savings would come from the Office of Housing. JLL reported their budget to be a 7.72 percent decrease from UTM’s current budget.
Altogether, the contract was set to save the UT system $6.8 million, at the cost of 1,100 buildings maintenance and grounds keeping jobs, according to The Knoxville News Sentinel. At UTM this would have been 90 jobs, according to reports at the fall faculty meeting, though current workers would have had the opportunity to apply to work for the company.
This includes people like Ellington Hall custodial worker Trena Davidson, who has been a UTM employee for 12 years. She said she enjoys her job, especially working with the students.
“Some of them are like my kids,” she said.
The outsourcing concept was introduced in 2015 as response to an invitation to identify cost-saving measures for all state facilities. The news resulted in a campus protest.
A Request for Proposal was later issued and JLL was contracted on March 28, 2017. The company then evaluated each campus and submitted a proposal. From there, decisions would be based on the location, size and complexity of the individual campuses according to Carver in an interview regarding the Interim Provost and VCAA.
“There’s a lot of different things you’ve got to consider when making a decision of this magnitude,” he said.
The meeting is being live-streamed in Knoxville starting at noon and can be viewed at tennessee.edu.
Agriculture Communications student Mariah Purcell contributed to this report.
(Jared Lemons, now a UTM alum, participated in a protest that took place in November 2015|Pacer File Photo)