$60 Million in Budget Cuts Will Be Felt Across Campus

The $60 million in budget reductions enacted at the University in July proved prophetic. By the time North Carolina’s new budget was finished, it was that amount — 10 percent of what UNC gets from the state — that the University was ordered to cut.

Some 300 jobs will go away, most of them in auxiliary services; most are unfilled positions. Tenure and tenure-track faculty positions are protected, but because faculty recruitment and hiring was slowed over the past year, many instructors will take additional loads to try to minimize the impact on class size and availability. Many of UNC’s smaller classes will get bigger.

The biggest impact of the budget axe, the result of declining state revenues in a continued sluggish economy, may be on the University’s centers and institutes. These areas — such at the Carolina Population Center, the Highway Safety Research Center and the Renaissance Computing Institute — bring together faculty members and full-time scientists to work on societal problems. They fulfill many of UNC’s goals for service and economic development generation to the state. The research centers cuts total $5.7 million.

Much of the centers’ funding comes from outside grants — $6.50 for every $1 invested by the state — but 5 and 10 percent cuts (and 35 percent for RENCI) are considered significant losses.

The University tried to minimize the impact on instruction by cutting significantly from support areas and administration. The amount cut from state appropriations to instructional units and academic support is $23.6 million.

All the cuts are recurring rather than single-year reductions.

People who been at UNC a long time are saying that “this is one of the biggest cuts they’ve ever seen,” said Dick Mann, vice chancellor for finance and administration.

“I don’t think there [is] going to be a reduction in classes,” he added, but there will be fewer sections and higher teaching loads. Small classes, which had been capped at 19 seats, now will be capped at 24.

“The University overall caught a pretty good break,” said interim Provost Bruce Carney. “The cut is going to affect instruction but less visibly than it might have.”

Mann said what most worries South Building is that the state could come back and ask for deeper cuts if the revenue picture doesn’t improve. The next 5 percent UNC might have to cut on top of these cuts is “really going to start hitting us severely,” he said. Some academic programs could be shut down, and all additional positions lost would be filled positions.

Among other impacts of the budget cuts:

  • Capital projects are at a virtual standstill. UNC got the money to complete an expansion of the dental school and to finish the new Biomedical Research Imaging Center. But it got only $4 million for repairs and renovations, far less than needed, and many older buildings will have to wait. Howell and Bingham halls are in especially bad shape, Carney said; staff moved out of Bingham last spring before mold problems were corrected.
  • The slowdown in faculty recruiting — it never was stopped altogether — will hurt UNC academically in the long run. “We lost the good people we couldn’t hire,” Carney said. The good news is that faculty retention among those recruited by other schools was unusually high in the College of Arts and Sciences. Also, relatively few professors retired last year.
  • Office cleaning has been reduced from five to two days per week, and the campus will notice cutbacks in grounds and building maintenance, waste reduction and recycling, energy management and mail services.

The UNC System will keep a provision enacted in 2005 that allows the campuses to consider out-of-state students who receive full scholarships to be regarded as in-state residents for tuition purposes. This significantly lowers the cost of funding those scholarships for the athletics boosters club, the Morehead-Cain Foundation and the Robertson Scholars Program, in addition to other academic full scholarships.

Money to accommodate enrollment growth was not affected.

Part of the revenue loss will be mitigated by tuition increases. At Carolina, tuition will go up $240 a year for in-state undergraduates — the maximum allowable under a 6.5 percent cap imposed by the UNC System Board of Governors — as approved by the trustees late last year. Out-of-state students will pay $1,150 more a year. Most graduate students will pay $400 more, although the increases in some professional schools will be higher. Fees for all students will go up $75, about 4 percent.

The new annual tuition totals are $3,945 for North Carolinians and $21,753 for those from out of state.

As a proactive step, UNC began operating in March on a 5 percent budget cut.

In April, Carolina issued emergency budget guidelines freezing the use of state funds for personnel, supplies and equipment, travel, and capital repair and renovation projects.

Also in April, Gov. Beverly Perdue approved an executive order that established a flexible furlough plan for state employees. University employees saw reductions in pay, taken from employees’ base pay, for May and June. The furlough plan applied to part- and full-time nonfaculty employees, UNC faculty, postdoctoral research associates and temporary employees; student workers were not included.

UNC also eliminated the position of vice chancellor for public service and engagement. It had been held by Michael Smith ’78 (JD), who continues as dean of the School of Government.

The UNC System and the N.C. General Assembly wanted cuts made in the campuses’ centers and institutes. Besides the research centers, Carolina sustained cuts averaging 17 percent in those reporting to the provost. According to Carol Tresolini, associate provost for academic initiatives, the hardest hit were the Center for Developmental Science, the Center for the Study of the American South, the Women’s Center, the Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy, the Center for Public Service, the Ackland Art Museum, the N.C. Botanical Garden and the Friday Center for Continuing Education.

The popular APPLES student-run service learning program will no longer stand on its own but become a program in the Center for Public Service in an effort to cut $100,000.

“Initially, the legislature specified exact dollar amounts for cuts to the centers, but then later allowed the university some management flexibility to assign cuts as we thought best, as long as the total cuts were at a certain level,” Tresolini wrote in an e-mail.

The Renaissance Computing Institute, which applies computing and other technologies to real-world problems and has locations at six North Carolina campuses, lost 18 staff members and four contractors.

“It’s unbelievable the value the centers and institutes provide to the state of North Carolina,” said Tony Waldrop’74, vice chancellor for research and economic development, “the tremendous return on investment.”

None of the centers are expected to have to shut down as a result of these cuts, but the longer term impact remains be seen. Most of them can survive if outside funding holds up, but the state cuts eliminate resources that help bring in those outside dollars.

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