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Senate Crunches the Numbers

Enrollment and budget numbers got a strict accounting at Tuesday’s Faculty Senate meeting, and you didn’t need a math degree to see the difficulties.

First up was Provost Warwick Arden, who said budget managers were in the process of reviewing and approving proposals from deans and division chiefs to trim $21 million from the university’s budget. This year’s cut, caused by a drop in state funding, comes on top of two previous reductions: $79 million in 2011 and $53 million in 2009.

“There’s not a lot of flexibility left in the units,” Arden told the senators. “Clearly there will be some loss of vacant faculty positions and teaching assistant positions. We need to figure out long-term how to get out of this cycle.”

Arden said the downward trend in state funding is making it challenging for the university to achieve its strategic goal of building the tenure-track faculty, even as it enjoys early success with the Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program. And, he said, a loss of instructional capacity could inhibit graduate enrollment.

That set up a presentation by Duane Larick, senior vice provost for academic strategy and resource management, who said NC State has 263 fewer continuing master’s students on campus this fall than projected and missed its target for new doctoral students by 75. That puts more pressure on budget managers since several revenue streams are directly or indirectly impacted by graduate enrollment, including state appropriations.

Larick said increasing the number of tenure-track faculty—one of the university’s strategic investment targets—is key to solving the problem in the long term.

Enrollment and budget issues are sure to get more attention at the general faculty meeting, 3–5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8, in Kamphoefner Hall.

Diversity Reaffirmed

The Senate voted unanimously to reaffirm its commitment to a diverse student population. General Counsel Eileen Goldgeier said the action was prudent in light of a recent Supreme Court decision remanding a Texas race-related admissions case to a lower court.

Schools may not use race as the only or primary factor in making admissions decisions, she noted. If race is used by a school, it must pass strict scrutiny, the court’s highest level of review. It must serve a compelling state interest, and the process must be narrowly tailored to further that compelling state interest, she explained.

Faculty Business Licenses

A faculty member told senators that she received a notice from a private company representing the city of Raleigh demanding that she pay a business license tax and five years of back taxes and penalties. The faculty member does not operate a business, she said, although she occasionally receives honoraria for serving on committees.

The Senate’s executive committee will ask the University Counsel’s Office to review the issue, faculty chair David Zonderman said.

General Education Council

Hans Kellner, immediate past chair of the faculty, reported on a recent meeting of the UNC General Education Council, one of the committees established to implement the UNC system’s strategic plan. President Tom Ross has charged the council with undertaking a comprehensive review of existing general education architecture and recommending a limited set of student learning outcomes appropriate to all UNC institutions. It will make its first set of recommendations to Ross by next January.

Kellner serves on the committee with Vice Chancellor Mike Mullen, dean of academic and student affairs.

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