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Budget Cuts Now 'Felt Deeply' in the Classroom

The following is excerpted from a “summary document” on the impact of recent budget cuts on UNC to this point. The information reflects a collective effort of University administration.

The University has absorbed more than $231 million in reductions from its state appropriations since 2008. Until this fiscal year, reductions at UNC have focused primarily on administrative cuts and measures to improve efficiency. However, the cumulative impact of repeated reductions in state funding makes it impossible to continue directing reductions to non-instructional areas.

Reductions for fiscal 2011-12 have reached the level that they are now felt deeply in the classroom. The $20 million shortfall for 2012-13 will cause major losses in instructional programs.

For example:

  • The number of course sections has dropped by 556, with 16,232 fewer seats available to students. Faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences teach 86 percent of the University’s total undergraduate credit hours. The College has seen class size increases due to budget reductions: The number of classes with fewer than 20 students has decreased by 18.2 percent; the number of classes with 40-49 students has increased by 22.5 percent; and the number of classes with more than 100 students has increased by 17 percent.
  • The cuts have affected the University’s ability to retain and attract strong faculty. The faculty have gone three years now without salary increases. Until this year, Carolina had been winning two-thirds of faculty retention cases, but in 2010-11 that trend was reversed. Over the past two years, 201 faculty have received external offers and 110 have left.
  • The University library has cut $3.95 million from its acquisitions budget, canceling 1,167 subscriptions and more than 1,000 law journals. Further damage to the library’s ability to aid instruction and research is the loss of 43 staff positions.
  • Graduate student support has declined more than 15 percent, with impacts on teaching laboratories and discussion sections.
    The University has eliminated 493 positions, 128 of which had been filled, 190 of which were vacant, and 175 which were part-time positions, including adjunct faculty.
    Student Affairs has been forced to reduce campus health services hours on weekends. A 24-hour emergency line is still available.
    The number of centrally supported computer labs for students has been reduced from seven to three.
    Reductions in maintenance and grounds will result in deterioration of the campus appearance and, if unforeseen repairs to facilities are needed, our ability to cover those costs is in question.

Aging equipment in Information Technology that cannot be replaced due to budget constraints will produce increased failure rates, lost capacity and higher maintenance costs.

To help protect the academic core, centers and institutes have taken especially severe cuts in all areas, from public service and outreach to teaching and research. Centers and institutes have absorbed cuts of 31 percent. All units have reduced services, including those providing public service and focusing on improving faculty excellence. Some specific examples include the closure of the Office of Business and Economic Development and the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center, reduction in part-time studies options at the Friday Center for Continuing Education, and the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center beginning to charge K-12 schools for educational services.

Among the impacts in the professional schools:

  • The School of Medicine eliminated its master’s in cytotechnology, the Office of Continuing Medical Education, 18 faculty positions and almost 50 staff. The McAlister Heart Institute, the Thurston Arthritis Research Center and TEACCH (education and research focusing on autistic children) program have been affected most dramatically. State dollars provide 25 percent of funding for basic and clinical science departments, so reductions have put educational and service missions at great risk and vulnerable to changes in external funding support. The Office of Continuing Medical Education will be closed.
  • Distance education centers of the School of Social Work in Henderson and Winston-Salem have been eliminated. The School also has eliminated its continuing education staff and cuts to the Area Health Education Centers have diminished support provided to North Carolina social workers by 19 percent.
  • The Gillings School of Global Public Health has lost 7 percent of its tenure/tenure-track faculty. Cuts to teaching assistants have been much deeper. Half of the instructional technology staff has been eliminated.
  • The Eshelman School of Pharmacy has lost 27 percent in state support over the past four years, with the primary effects felt in the Professional Experiential Program, an essential ingredient for training North Carolina’s future pharmacists.
  • The School of Nursing’s expansion for advanced BSN students has been shelved due to lack of funds and enrollments have been reduced by 25 percent.
  • The School of Dentistry has delayed the expansion of the DDS class from 81 to 100 due to the lack of faculty to support new students. In addition, a heavier reliance on second-year residents to teach (from 15 percent to 30 percent of their time) limits their participation in patient care and research.
  • The Kenan-Flagler Business School has lost five faculty, threatening the school’s ability to continue programs in finance and organizational behavior.
  •  The School of Education has reduced the number of students admitted to the elementary education program by one-third. The master’s in school psychology is being phased out. Faculty will assume more instructional duties due to diminished support from graduate students and even more administrative duties. The research support office has been closed, and external funding for the school is now highly vulnerable. LEARN NC, the primary means of providing teacher support in all 115 school districts in the state, has had its budget cut in half.
  • The School of Journalism has increased class sizes higher than the recommended number set by its accrediting organization in 23 sections of skill courses.
  •  Faculty positions have been eliminated in the areas of efficiency and effectiveness, immigration law and strategic leadership at the School of Government, a unit that has long provided help for state, county and municipal government leaders.

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