UNC loses 3,000 workers after budget
Posted September 8, 2011
RALEIGH, N.C. — The University of North Carolina system cut more than 3,000 filled jobs because of spending reductions required by the General Assembly in this year's budget, according to a report presented Thursday to the UNC Board of Governors.
The university system, which collected data from all 17 campuses and other programs, reported 488 filled full-time positions were eliminated and 2,544 part-time or temporary workers were no longer employed.
The Republican-penned budget required the university system to find $414 million in spending reductions – equivalent to an across-the-board reduction of 15.6 percent. It was part of a legislative plan to close a $2.6 billion shortfall while allowing a pair of temporary tax increases to expire.
The report said 1,979 of the part-time workers who are no longer employed were labeled as faculty positions, such as lecturers and adjunct faculty. Another 356 people who were let go were categorized primarily as graduate assistants who performed some teaching and research duties.
In addition, the report said another 1,487 vacant jobs were eliminated and another 508 previously funded with state money are now funded through other methods, such as university receipts.
The figure of 3,032 employees who are no longer working appears to jibe largely with warnings by UNC system leaders and Gov. Beverly Perdue about the GOP's budget effects on a university system that had about 35,000 workers paid for with state budgeted funds before the cuts took effect starting July 1.
"These cuts are going to hurt our state in the long-run," Perdue said in a statement. "I hear from business leaders every day about the importance of a well-trained workforce. The damaging cuts Republican legislators rammed through will likely impact our ability to remain competitive in the global marketplace.”
Republicans acknowledged the cuts could hurt but noted campuses had other ways to generate revenue, such as tuition and fundraising.
The Board of Governors report said state funding to the UNC system has been cut by almost $1.2 billion over the last four years.
The report said the job cuts and other spending reductions has led to increased class sizes, shorter hours for libraries and computer labs, and reduced or eliminated tutoring or counseling programs.
Other cuts noted in the Board of Governors report include fewer maintenance workers at East Carolina University, North Carolina Central University reducing the number of periodicals and journals in its library and Appalachian State University using a conference center for student housing.
N.C. Central Chancellor Charlie Nelms said about 350 students couldn't get into needed classes at the Durham school and others had to drop out because of limited financial aid.
Still, Nelms said he has tried to turn the $13 million budget cut into an opportunity to focus on the school's goal of increasing academic standards. Admission standards have recently been raised, and more resources are in place to help students graduate, he said.
"I think, (with) the kinds of restructuring, the type of restructuring we are doing, we'll be able to generate some additional revenue through online offerings, private philanthropy, research overhead and some of those things," he said. "We have to be willing to embrace all of these approaches to increasing the revenue base."
UNC President Tom Ross asked Jim Woodward, the retired chancellor of UNC-Charlotte, to look for duplications across the university system that could be trimmed to save money. Woodward told the Board of Governors that there isn't much there to cut, but he suggested the system look for ways to be more efficient in approving new programs and make it easier for students to take courses online.