Education

UNC system might cut degree programs to save money

Posted January 14, 2011

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— University of North Carolina campuses might soon have to compete to retain duplicative degree programs and courses, new UNC President Tom Ross said Friday.

Ross, who is in his second week on the job, told members of the UNC Board of Governors that he needs to find ways to cut costs without sacrificing educational quality as the state tries to erase a projected $3.7 billion deficit for the 2011-12 fiscal year, which starts in July.

"We want to be a partner in solving what I think is maybe the worst crisis North Carolina government has seen, certainly in my lifetime," Ross said. "I'm about trying to be sure this university stays great."

Gov. Beverly Perdue instructed UNC system administrators last fall to prepare for budget cuts of 5 to 10 percent. A 5 percent cut would mean laying off 900 employees, including 400 faculty members across the 17-campus system, affecting about 2,700 courses, officials said. A 10 percent cut would mean about 2,000 layoffs – half of them faculty – and affect about 6,400 courses.

Campuses have already requested tuition increases for the coming year – 13 are seeking the maximum possible increase of 6.5 percent – to help offset the state cuts.

Ross has asked retired UNC-Charlotte Chancellor Jim Woodward to review programs across the system to see if there are some that might be offered in too many places. Woodward also served as interim chancellor at North Carolina State University last year.

"If there are programs that are being duplicated across campuses, (we are looking at) where we can eliminate one of them and still be offering what we need to be offering and save some money," Ross said.

He didn't provide a time frame for the review or when some programs might be cut.

UNC System Logo UNC system might cut degree programs to save money

"(This) has to do with the long-term recognition that we are probably going to be operating with less resources," he said. "We are all, I think, beginning to come to grips with the fact that the world is different and it's changing, and we are going to have to be different."

Board of Governors Chairwoman Hannah Gage said the depth of the potential cuts in state funding make such moves necessary.

"If we begin to look at 10 or 15 percent cuts, especially on a small campus, it's absolutely critical that we look at what we might be able to do at 50,000 feet and find some savings from the system level," Gage said.

She also said the review could do more than save money.

"I do think that what we will find is opportunities of combining programs, of consolidating things that could be stronger if they were, you know, pulled together," she said.

Ross also asked chancellors to suggest ways to streamline government regulations that tie up staff members' time.

The UNC system has absorbed more than $600 million in cuts over the last four years, with most of the cuts coming from administrative budgets.

North Carolina Central University Chancellor Charlie Nelms said the budget crisis is the worst he's seen in his 40-year career.

"You can't panic. What you have to do is say, 'OK, what resources do we have?' to make sure that we are deploying those resources in the most effective and efficient manner," Nelms said.

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  • tran Jan 17, 2011

    "I think where laboratory and other equipment are needed to run a program such as engineering - why try to duplicate at so many universities."

    so many universities? Hmmmm. Let's see. There's engineering schools at NCSU, UNC-Charlotte and NC A&T. Three is many?

  • geosol Jan 14, 2011

    How quickly our little right wing friends forget about what lead to the economic development of the Triangle region - higher education, research and development. Now, if they want to "take our country back" to when this area was dominated by farming and mill jobs then go right ahead. Those of us with an education, skills, and vision will be happy to leave you with your ignorant fantasies.

  • geosol Jan 14, 2011

    "Because over 90% of us cannot afford the actual cost of a college education. This would leave a huge void in our job market. Similarly, individually we cannot all afford tanks, bombers and aircraft carriers, so we all chip in with our taxes and enjoy the benefits of freedom. But I hope you don't consider our armed forces to be socialist for operating this way." from Official_jury.

    Thank you, my fellow patriot and dispenser of common sense! One of the best posts on this site EVER!!!!!!

  • geosol Jan 14, 2011

    What puzzles me is that the right wingers keep repeating what they're told that "you just can't trust those "liberal professors" at our colleges", and yet they try as hard as they can to get their kids into them. Why don't the wingers just keep their little spawn out of college and then they can feel a whole lot better about themselves?

  • Scottie Jan 14, 2011

    First, if this is true, it is because the schools are poorly run. Second, why does the other 10% pay for the 90%? Keepin_it_real_in_NC

    Did you go to college? If you did, chances are you benefited from a Pell Grant or some other form of Govt. assistance from the Feds. Got any reason to oppose the Feds supporting efforts of vets to get a college education through the GI bill?

  • inventor61 Jan 14, 2011

    It's funny how they can afford millions to build an unneeded new airplane hangar at RDU but have to cut undergraduate student classes.

  • Keepin_it_real_in_NC Jan 14, 2011

    "Because over 90% of us cannot afford the actual cost of a college education. :

    First, if this is true, it is because the schools are poorly run. Second, why does the other 10% pay for the 90%?

  • Just another bad guy Jan 14, 2011

    "This is not anti-education. It is anti-tax. Exactly why do you think I should pay money to other people?" keepin_it_real_in_NC

    Because over 90% of us cannot afford the actual cost of a college education. This would leave a huge void in our job market. Similarly, individually we cannot all afford tanks, bombers and aircraft carriers, so we all chip in with our taxes and enjoy the benefits of freedom. But I hope you don't consider our armed forces to be socialist for operating this way.

  • Keepin_it_real_in_NC Jan 14, 2011

    "If they cut the basketball coach, there will be a lot more money."

    Obviously you have never run a business. The basketball teams makes a lot more money than they pay the coach. They would lose money.

  • Keepin_it_real_in_NC Jan 14, 2011

    "Why don't you move to Afghanistan and join the Taliban? They have similar views on public education."

    This is not anti-education. It is anti-tax. Exactly why do you think I should pay money to other people?

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