Backgrounder on Proposed 5.9% State Budget Cut
Wed, 05/05/2010 - 5:17pm
N.C. Gov. Beverly Perdue recently released her proposed 2010-2011 budget, which included a number of recommendations for the University of North Carolina system.
For the University system, she recommended:
- Reduction of 5.9% or $154,626,000 (3.9% reduction on top of the planned 2% cut). For UNC Asheville, cutting 5.9% of our state appropriation reduces our budget by $2,235,100.
- Full funding for need-based financial aid ($34.8 million)
- Board of Governors’ alternative Tuition Proposal ($34.7 million – to remain on the campuses for need- based aid and other specified uses)
- Funding for adjustments in enrollment increases ($5.6 million)
UNC Asheville is already vulnerable at a 2% cut. As President Bowles has said, any cut beyond that would devastate the university, to the detriment of North Carolinians.
- To put this proposed additional cut in perspective, UNC Asheville was asked to make budget reductions during the 2009-10 year of $4,160,800 through a combination of one-time and permanent cuts. This is equal to 10.4% of our state appropriations. $2.2 million of this cut was permanent. Under the Governor’s proposal of a permanent 5.9% cut in 2010-11, the university would have to absorb a reduction of $2,235,140 next year in addition to this year’s permanent cuts. For a small campus like UNC Asheville, the cuts are especially challenging.
- To accommodate cuts last year, we made decisions that would preserve the academic core. We elected to cut substantially from all operating budgets, and almost 10% from our staff in areas that we hoped would directly affect students least: Fund-raising, finance, public service, and community, state and federal relations. In 2009-10 a total of 44 staff positions were eliminated or not filled.
- As a consequence, these cuts have left us at risk for financial audit findings without enough staff for "separation of duties." We have reduced staff in police, public safety and emergency management to the point that emergency experts retained by UNC General Administration have identified our staffing shortage as a significant vulnerability in the event of our emergency response capability.
- Because those cuts did not fully address the budget cut requirements, we also cut 15% of adjunct faculty. Fewer faculty means that students now experience larger classes, fewer course offerings and fewer research opportunities. For some, this has meant delaying graduation when the courses they needed to graduate could not be offered as planned.
- Faculty now have less time to devote to developing new course content, advising students, mentoring undergraduate research projects, or serving in the mentor role that has been the hallmark of a
UNC Asheville experience.
- Given that our faculty salaries are among the lowest in the system, this situation makes it close to impossible to attract quality faculty or retain the ones we have.
- An additional 3.9% cut -- for a total of 5.9% -- will mean eliminating or not filling approximately 34 state-funded positions across all areas.
- As a consequence, plans for meeting crucial baseline minimal requirements to ensure the quality of our university would have to be shelved. Those plans include:
- Preparing appropriately for our 2012 reaccreditation to assure that we can continue as an accredited university;
- Assuring the safety, well being and security of our students and our campus with emergency response equipment, expertise, and protocols;
- Implementing programs that will improve student retention and graduation rates. These rely, for example, on having enough student affairs professionals with the right expertise to facilitate out-of-classroom engagement;
- Ensuring data security and integrity with appropriate technical expertise and processes in anticipation of yearly state Information Technology audits, which were just announced;
- Meeting minimal student expectations for wireless accessibility across campus, which will require $900,000 plus three positions;
- Increasing revenues from private sources to reduce reliance on state allocations; at the same time, in order to protect the academic core, we have significantly reduced our fund-raising staffing.
North Carolina’s top-ranked public university system is itself a powerful economic engine for our state. An educated citizenry is the very resource that can help our communities overcome current economic challenges. Further cuts will decrease the quality of educational experiences and opportunities available to North Carolina students.
Great students who have come to expect a great educational experience at UNC Asheville will surely suffer, or go elsewhere, or both.