Pembroke, N.C. — Gov. Pat McCrory on Thursday had his first meeting with the University of North Carolina Board of Governors since proposing massive cuts to the university system last month.
McCrory included a $135 million cut to the UNC system in his 2013-14 budget proposal, although steep tuition increases on out-of-state students could help campuses recoup some of that lost funding.
“I just wanted to let you know it’s tough out there," he told members of the Board of Governors during a meeting in Pembroke. "The revenue that’s coming in right now – our projected revenue for the next two years – is based upon about a 2.3 percent growth.”
To become more efficient and cost-effective, he said, North Carolina needs to remake its education system. That starts by breaking down the walls between pre-kindergarten, K-12, community colleges and universities.
"One message I’m giving to all of you is we have to work together as a team and have a consistent process altogether," he said. "The status quo is not acceptable."
He suggested sharing facilities and personnel to cut administrative costs.
"We're going to have to change, just like your businesses are having to change every single year, every single month," he said. "I think education is going to be under the same competitive pressures."
A chief Senate budget writer said last month that lawmakers might look at closing one or two UNC campuses to save money, but Senate leader Phil Berger said Wednesday that no consolidation would be in the Senate's budget plan this year. McCrory reiterated that message Thursday.
Al Roseman, a member of the Board of Governors from Wilmington, said he doesn't think any campuses will ever be closed, but he said programs will have to be streamlined across the system to reduce duplication on numerous campuses.
"I think we’re going to change drastically because of the funding," Roseman said. "We just need to get together and do a better job."
McCrory said North Carolina needs to create a "brand" for its education system, one that aligns with the needs of businesses statewide.
"“There is a disconnect between our high unemployment rate and our education establishment," he said. "I have employers tell me, 'We have job openings, but we can’t find qualified employees to fill the job.'"