Chapel Hill, N.C. — Budget cuts to the University of North Carolina system this year will result in the elimination of hundreds of administrative positions, the system's president said Monday.
Following a closed meeting with senior administrative staff, President Erskine Bowles acknowledged the need for chancellors across the 16-camups system to take decisive steps to target their assigned budget cuts on the administrative side of their operations to protect the academic core.
An early estimate of positions that could be eliminated is about 900, but it's still unclear how many of those are currently filled, said Joni Worthington, vice president for communications for the UNC system.
"This is not a new topic of discussion, as cutting administrative costs and improving efficiencies has been an ongoing focus since President Bowles took office," Worthington said.
Each UNC campus is cutting its budget by 10 percent. The new state budget decreases funding by 6 percent, and the universities must cut another 4 percent in case of more revenue shortfalls.
North Carolina State University has eliminated approximately 400 positions, interim Chancellor Jim Woodward said. Most of those were administrative, he said. Half were filled.
It was unclear how many positions were cut from other universities.
Administrative costs became an issue after a 100-page report released in July found that UNC-Chapel Hill's administrative expenses per student have grown faster than academic expenses.
The report said the Chapel Hill campus has 10 layers of management, in which more than half of supervisors oversee three or fewer people. Changing that structure could save the university up to $12 million annually, according to the study.
"We cut 86 positions last year, and we're in the process of making some more cuts," UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp said Monday.
Thorp said he has made the necessary cuts that Bowles has asked for but would not say how many more positions would be eliminated or from where they might be cut.
"We have more seats in classes this year than we had last year, even though we cut $60 million out of our budget, so that shows we're making cuts on the administrative side," he said.
Thorp added that the challenge remains how to make the changes work.
"This is a permanent correction and not just something we do to adapt to the economic crisis," he said.