From the University Report (published by the GAA 1970-94)
This should be a glorious year for our University. Whether it is will be determined, in large measure, not by the celebrations that begin Oct. 12 with University Day – when we mark the 200th anniversary of public higher education in America – but by decisions made during the next few months by the N.C. General Assembly.
Our University must assemble the resources necessary to compete nationally with our peer institutions if Carolina’s third century is to continue the performance and fulfill the promise of our first 200 years. We are at a crossroads when all North Carolinians must decide if our state’s most distinguished person-made creation is to retain its quality and legacy of service and excellence.
It has already been well documented that the past few years have been difficult ones for Carolina. Regrettably, the state’s financial resources have not permitted our University to maintain pace with our peer institutions. As I noted in my August 1992 column, over the course of the past decade our University has slipped in the important annual surveys of salaries and benefits conducted by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). Instead of being in the top quintile (or top 20 percent) as we once were, we are now in the third or fourth quintile.
Furthermore, our University library’s national ranking has declined as well. This combination of noncompetitive faculty salaries and benefits and declining library resources, coupled with the long absence of state funding for needed new facilities, leaves our campus and the University System in desperate need of significant new resources from this session of the General Assembly.
Daily, our University delivers much-needed services across North Carolina through the extensive outreach of our Area Health Education Centers, the Institute of Government and the Schools of Public Health, Education and Social Work, to name only a few. In addition, we are providing professional training to those who serve North Carolina as pharmacists, dentists, doctors, nurses, journalists, lawyers, businessmen, social workers and librarians, etc.
Ours is the only public institution in North Carolina whose faculty in 1918 earned our campus membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU). To remain competitive among the 58 AAU institutions, UNC requires proportionately more resources than are needed by other UNC System campuses.
It is important to note that from 1990-91 to 1991-92, when the entire UNC System received a 1 percent budget increase for all 16 campuses, our own campus actually received a 2 percent cut, or nearly $5.5 million less in state appropriations!
So, what should our emphasis be in this session of the General Assembly? We should join with UNC System President C.D. Spangler Jr., ’54 and the System’s Board of Governors in seeking authorization to proceed with a capital bond referendum this spring. The backlog of construction on each of the 16 campuses is substantial, and this is an excellent time to take construction bids and to boost the state’s economy by building badly needed facilities.
Second, because for two years state and University employees have received virtually no salary increases (actually, after no increase in 1991, each state employee received a $522 increase effective July 1992), we desperately need a significant infusion of resources for salary and benefit increases.
Frankly, both our campus and N.C. State need supplemental additions beyond what may be provided to state employees. And additional library resources must be found. It is impossible to have a great university without a great library.
This is our suggested short list for emphasis: authorization for a referendum on capital construction, salary and benefit increases and expanded library resources. Many other items could be added and not all require additional state appropriations. For example, flexibility from the rigid state personnel classification system would significantly assist each UNC System campus in our continuing efforts to make the maximum use of our limited resources.
How can you help? Do you have friends in the General Assembly? Have you contributed to legislators? Are you willing to write your legislator? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, we hope you will use your influence to share your interest and concern with members of the General Assembly. If you need additional information or assistance in any other way, please contact us.
Meanwhile, let us all rally in support of Carolina, recognizing that in doing so we are not only helping our alma mater, but we are also assisting in the important preservation of North Carolina’s most cherished human-made resource – the University of North Carolina. While that may ring of arrogance, no one can identify another person-made resource that has for 200 years provided the level of service and demonstrated excellence to all the people of North Carolina.
If we are to begin our bicentennial celebration next fall with enthusiasm and confidence, it is essential that in the weeks and months ahead we work with the General Assembly and the UNC System to ensure that the resources are put in place to correct the perceived and perhaps real competitive decline of our campus. Remember, in doing so we are serving all the people of North Carolina and helping to ensure that our diplomas retain their competitive value and that the oldest state university also becomes the best!
Yours at Carolina,
Douglas S. Dibbert ’70