UNC to take $100M in cuts

July 8, 2011 7:14:42 AM PDT
The University of North Carolina system has divided $414 million in budget cuts across its 16-campus system and its flagship campus will take the biggest hit, which could mean larger classes, job cuts and higher fees for students.

For three years, Carolina has had to tighten its belt through a hiring freeze in addition to cuts to travel and training and the elimination of pay raises for most employees.

"I'm not really a fan of it," UNC student Emily Burns said.

Burns says she's tired of her school cutting back.

"It would be really nice to see some more students actually care, and try and work together make a change in it," she continued.

Campus tour leaders and students Patrick Snyder and Pooja Patel say they have faith in Chapel Hill administrators.

"I have faith in the university," Snyder said. "We've always been the flagship university of the state."

"I know UNC is going to work with the system, work it out, and make sure people aren't impacted to heavily by it," Patel continued. "Make sure the classes are still intact and everything."

A UNC-Chapel Hill spokesperson says it's still unclear how the cuts will impact Carolina.

University leaders warned three months ago that a budget cut of this magnitude would result in about 9,000 fewer course offerings and the loss of 1,500 faculty jobs statewide.

For months, campuses have been carrying out layoffs, leaving other positions vacant and otherwise preparing for the day their cuts will be known, university system spokeswoman Joni Worthington said. Where and how the cuts allocated Thursday will effect each campus will be decided locally, she said.

"We're going to see those play out over the course of the next several months. But there is absolutely no doubt that there will be fewer course sections. The course sections that we have will be larger. There will be reductions in student services and other programs on every campus and there will certainly be additional job losses and the elimination of lots of filled positions," Worthington said.

Legislators ordered in the $19.7 billion state budget that the spending cuts averaging 16 percent couldn't be applied across the board. Lawmakers also protected some favored programs like turfgrass research at North Carolina State University and a nanoengineering school shared by North Carolina A&T University and UNC-Greensboro.

A panel of the 16-campus university system's Board of Governors agreed to divide up the budget cuts by forcing UNC-Chapel Hill to take the lead. The Chapel Hill campus will lose more than $100 million this year, or 18 percent.

The North Carolina School of Science & Math, a residential high school in Durham that is part of the UNC system, was assigned the smallest cut, 8.4 percent.

East Carolina University, UNC Charlotte, Appalachian State University, and Western Carolina University all will take cuts of 16 percent or more.

UNC-Charlotte leaders estimated in a report released in April that a 15 percent cut would increase the average time for a student to earn an undergraduate degree by a full semester. Appalachian State said it would have to eliminate financial aid and loan staff at the same time that the number of students with financial need is increasing. East Carolina University said its library would cancel subscriptions to key academic journals and databases.

The allocation of spending cuts were determined using guidelines that included the percentage of low-income students and how many freshmen came back for a second year of classes. Schools with fewer than 6,000 students got special consideration since they had less room to absorb cost-cutting. Campuses better able to solicit donors or draw research grants were also considered.

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