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Budget Forum

Next week, NC State will turn in a base budget with $53.3 million in cuts – 10 percent less in state funding – to meet a stepped-up deadline for the UNC system.

That reduction will allow NC State to take an anticipated 6 to 7 percent cut in its state funding and cope with budget reversions if tax revenues remain low and the state takes back a portion of funding, as it did last year, said Chancellor Jim Woodward.

“If a reversion doesn’t take place, then we will have those funds to distribute back to the campus,” Woodward told faculty, staff and students at a campus budget forum last Thursday in Talley Student Center.

While the magnitude of the cuts was less than the 18 percent the university planned for early this summer, the “very real and human impact” will be felt across campus, Woodward said. He said it’s too soon to have an accurate estimate of the number of employees who will be laid off, noting that some programs will fund salaries from other sources and eliminate vacant positions.

Questions about class availability, academic support services and students’ ability to graduate on time dominated the discussion at the forum.

Dr. Robert Bruck, professor of plant pathology and forestry, said advisers are finding it “exceedingly difficult” to enroll sophomores in required classes.

“We have tried not to reduce the number of seats, but the number of sections is being reduced, which reduces choices,” Woodward said. “What we will see is students staying in school longer.”

Reductions in academic services troubled student body president Jim Ceresnak.

He asked administrators to reconsider the 26 percent reduction in the provost’s budget for the Division of Undergraduate Academic Programs (DUAP), which supports 11 student programs, including advising, tutoring and First Year College.

“While these programs will never graduate a single student, the question is, how many more students will have a difficult time or will not graduate without this support?” Ceresnak said.

Provost Warwick Arden said while the academic services cuts are substantial, administrators protected the classroom by minimizing cuts to the colleges, where teaching takes place. Overall, college budgets were reduced 5.42 percent for the coming year. The cuts, which were not made across the board, vary by college, Arden said.

Kelly Hook, chief of staff for student government, challenged the group to look for creative ways to provide services such as tutoring. “Perhaps there’s an opportunity to figure out how to do that with an outside contract,” she said. For example, the university could negotiate better prices than the going rate of $20 per hour students would pay on their own, she suggested.

Although students will likely see a $200 increase in tuition, which was included in the House budget, that money won’t benefit NC State, said Charles Leffler, vice chancellor for finance and business. Instead, the state will use the tuition increase to replace a portion of its appropriation to NC State. The tuition increase would also preclude Campus Initiated Tuition Increases (CITI) already approved by the Board of Governors, he said.

Diversifying NC State’s funding through private funding, grants and contracts will be a priority in coming years, Woodward said.

Deans, vice provosts and vice chancellors turned in proposals for budget cuts on June 15, using principles from the University Budget Advisory Committee and value statements from the Board of Governors as guidelines. Administrators were in the middle of individual reviews when they learned the budget deadline had been moved up.

The tight timeline prevented more communication and input on the process, Woodward said. “Quite frankly, there was no option, given the time frame that we had.”

However, Woodward said that he had “explicitly charged” budget officers to share information with employees and stakeholders.

The university’s final budget may not be approved until August, Leffler said. The next steps are UNC system review, passage of a final state budget and approval from the Board of Governors.