July 1, 2009
Acting on instructions from the University of North Carolina General Administration to plan for a 10 percent permanent budget reduction for the 2009-10 fiscal year, UNC Asheville announced plans to eliminate 43 positions, which will result in the loss of jobs for eight current staff members.
The job losses are the first in many years at UNC Asheville, which was able to sustain last year’s 7 percent budget reduction by allowing vacant jobs to remain unfilled, reducing costs and improving efficiencies in administrative areas. Of the 43 staff positions eliminated this week, 26 were vacant and 17 had people in them. The university transferred nine of the affected staff members to open positions that are essential to academic and student services. The elimination of the 43 staff jobs will lessen university expenses by $1.65 million. No faculty positions were eliminated.
"We are trying to manage significant budget cuts while preserving the quality of UNC Asheville and its core mission of teaching and learning. A 10 percent permanent cut to our budget represents about $4 million. Because 84 percent of our state funding goes to personnel costs, we were faced with some very difficult decisions," said UNC Asheville Chancellor Anne Ponder.
The eight staff members who lost their jobs have received a minimum of 30 days notice. They will receive severance pay, pay for unused vacation and other accrued leave, priority re-employment rights at any state agency for a year, and assistance with job searches and employment counseling.
"UNC Asheville developed a strategic process to prioritize budget reductions, with the overarching goal of protecting the classroom and the student experience," Chancellor Ponder said. "We conducted a comprehensive review of our organizational structure, looking for ways to improve efficiencies within administrative areas and eliminating functions not related directly to the University's core mission. And, at the instruction of the state legislature and UNC General Administration, we also reviewed our centers and institutes to assess their relative contributions to UNC Asheville's mission and strategic plan. The actions we are taking reflect those priorities."
As a result, UNC Asheville is closing the campus convenience store and phasing out two centers identified as not central to UNC Asheville's core mission and strategic plan. The Mössbauer Effect Data Center, a data collection center for spectroscopy research, will be phased out as a university center over the next six months. The Environmental Quality Institute, a laboratory that focuses primarily on analyzing and monitoring water quality for municipalities and private individuals, will be phased out as a university center over the next six to twelve months. Some of the work of both centers may continue as scholarship endeavors of individual faculty members.
Prior to the reduction in positions, UNC Asheville had 500 staff members. In addition, UNC Asheville has 227 full-time faculty members; there are no current plans to reduce the number of full-time faculty.