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Chancellor on Budget Proposal

On Tuesday, the North Carolina House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Education offered its first budget proposal, with budget reductions to NC State of 15.5 percent.

Reductions are necessary for the state to manage its budget shortfall and NC State stands with the university system, prepared to do our part to offset the deficit. But, this level of cutting would do permanent damage and be difficult for us to recover from. We would lose somewhere between 550 and 700 unfilled and filled positions, including as many as 200 faculty positions. There’s no way to cut 15 percent—on top of the cuts taken over the past four years—and keep the academic strength of the institution.

Because state dollars are the primary source of funding for basic academic programs, cuts at this level would require eliminating approximately 3,200 faculty and staff positions across the system and eliminating about a quarter of a million class seats. As a result, students would find themselves in far larger classes and would find that courses they need for graduation are no longer offered or offered sporadically.

Chancellor Woodson says higher education leaders are striving to protect the UNC system from deep cuts in state funding.

While we are grateful that the draft budget would fully fund enrollment growth in the first year and provide operating support for new buildings, state funding for need-based financial aid would shrink. About 60 percent of our in-state undergraduates depend on need-based financial aid, and rapid tuition increases have put additional strain on students and their families.

It’s important to understand that this is only a proposal and could change significantly before it comes to a vote. Recall that several weeks ago, the governor also offered her budget proposal, with reductions for the university system in the 9.5 percent range. The Senate will also weigh in.

That means a final budget is weeks away. We are working with UNC President Tom Ross and chancellors from all UNC universities to make our case for maintaining our state’s historic strength in higher education.

This is a challenging time for the state and for the state’s universities. We will do our part to shoulder the budget load.  At NC State, we will continue our mission to be an engine for economic development. We will also continue to do everything we can to preserve the quality of the education we provide to students.

I understand the uncertainty that is an inevitable part of this type of budget conversation. We are working with the legislature to protect our budget to the extent possible.

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  1. Departments and degree programs seem to be allocated resources based upon student and parental demand and completely disconnected with industry or government or service sector demand. Wouldn’t it make more sense to allocate resources to areas where the Dept. of Labor projections indicate demands will be in the near and far term. In this way we might reduce the number of students graduating with few to nil job possibilities.

  2. Our university has many faculty past retirement age who are still working because there are negative incentives should they resign.

    1. Their departments would lose the positions.
    2. They are still productive and bring in money through grants and contracts or are popular teachers.
    3. Negative effects on their retirement benefits.
    4. A phased retirement system that is unattractive.
    This should be looked into again. It might be possible to improve this.

    A phased retirement that is renewable every year might work, provided other conditions allowed them to continue to contribute. More flexibility would help. Right now there is too much “all or nothing”.

  3. It is time to be a year-round university. We need 3 terms a year so we can improve graduation rates and make effective use of our educational facilities that languish during low-enrolled 5-week summer terms. We have 12-month staff but 9-month faculty. For 3 months in the summer, staff are fully funded to support faculty and students who are not here. If you want efficiency, fix the schedule since time is money. There is nothing efficient about summer school. With infrastructure, administration and staff already in place, adding faculty to fully fund a 3-month summer term is a relatively small addition. Students can move through their undergraduate and graduate programs at 3 terms a year rather than 2. Or if they choose, they can remain on a 2-term/year schedule and take off the semester they choose for the reason they choose (co-ops, internships, study abroad, etc.). Georgia Tech offers nearly all of its classes during the summer, although they are still on a semester schedule. Effectively, they have three full terms, and students do not have to lose 3 months a year every year because they can’t get a class. My preference is three 13-week terms so there is time between terms to plan, prepare and upgrade facilities. You can move more students through our programs more quickly without any loss of educational quality.

  4. If there are faculty lines cut why not offer a reduction for ALL faculty of, say, 10% so that positions can be saved? I would gladly offer 10% of my salary if it saved others jobs.

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