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State asks $6 million be trimmed from budget

By Wade Allen
Kayla Pearson
Around the Campus Editor

Gov. Bev Perdue’s signing of the recommended 2009- 2010 budget has put into perspective UNCP’s economic position for the year.

Overall UNCP is looking at a decrease of approximately $6 million in their $61.8 million budget.

Gov. Perdue has asked for a permanent budget cut of 5.5 percent, $3,409.077. In addition to this, she also asked the school to hold back another 5 percent in the form of a reversion.

“This is not permanent. The state wants you to set back another 5 percent, about $3 million, because if the state’s economy doesn’t rebound you have to give this money back to the state,” Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Charles Harrington said.

These cuts did not come to the school unexpectedly. Prior to the school year, UNCP was asked to make a plan for a 10 percent cut in the budget.

The situation “didn’t catch us by surprise. We were able to plan very carefully how we were going to absorb cuts,” Dr. Harrington said. “All decisions made are in attempt to maintain the high quality teaching and learning at UNCP.”

Three town hall meetings were held, beginning on Aug. 20 in Moore Hall, to answer any questions posed about the cuts and how severely they would impact everyday learning at the University.

“I want to assure you we took this very seriously,” Chancellor Charles Jenkins said at the first town hall meeting. “I see the pain and anxiety that people have.”

The school also held forums where the faculty senate, staff council and every University employee was given the opportunity to participate. The senior administration looked at all options using them to formulate the 10 percent plan. All discussions evolved over an eight month period, according to Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs Neil Hawk.

The plan asks that filled instructional faculty positions are not affected but Middle Manager (EPA-NT) and SPA positions, student recruitment advertising and unallocated reserves all be reduced.

“It took a lot of work and a lot of people. It was truly an institutional effort and the product was a good one,” Hawk said.

However, adding together the permanent cut and reversion, UNCP still has to come up with an additional .5 percent, $500,000, to hold back in addition to what was already planned, according to Hawk.

Academic Affairs had a series of open meetings with faculty to talk about and brainstorm a developed list of potential cuts. The idea was to very modestly reduce the operating budget while maintaining the concepts of small class sizes and faculty development through travel, according to Dr. Harrington.

“We want faculty to continue to have the resources they need. Faculty tends to bring back what they learned and apply it in the classroom. We want to make sure they keep that,” Dr. Harrington said.

The list included:
• Temporary reduction of faculty stipends
• Elimination of vacant associate dean positions in the School of Business and Education
• Combination of programs
• Moderate increase in class sizes
• Reduction in the use of part time and adjunct faculty

In addition the faculty senate is being asked to do an administrative study on Academic Affairs and make a recommendation on how to reorganize and make the office more efficient.

All UNC system schools are experiencing similar cuts proportional to that of UNCP and are preparing for reversions. It has not been an easy task for any school, especially UNCP.

“I believe we are significantly underfunded so any cut causes pain,” Dr. Harrington said.

It is the expectation that the same thing will happen next year.

Year “2010-2011 will be equally difficult if not worse. Part of our strategy is to help us absorb any possible cuts next year,” Dr. Harrington said.

At the first town hall meeting, Chancellor Jenkins responded to a question posed by an audience member concerning faculty and staff positions at UNCP.

“Every effort has been made to protect filled positions,” Chancellor Jenkins said. “Class sizes probably will be a little bit larger.”

Keeping with the core mission of harming instruction as little as possible, faculty will not be cut but the school will not be adding new faculty at this point.

The school “will grow next year adding faculty, adding students, adding services but trying to do it with fewer people,” Hawk said.



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Updated: Thursday, September 3, 2009
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