UNC system could lose campuses

Posted March 21, 2013

— Lawmakers are considering the possibility of eliminating one or two campuses in the University of North Carolina system, a top Senate budget-writer said Thursday.

Gov. Pat McCrory called for a $135 million cut in funding for the UNC system in the 2013-14 budget proposal he rolled out on Wednesday.

As lawmakers began reviewing the spending plan Thursday, Sen. Pete Brunstetter, R-Forsyth, co-chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he and his colleagues are more concerned about how money for higher education is spent than the actual size of the appropriation.

Lawmakers want to trim duplicative programs across UNC campuses, which Brunstetter said could reduce the overall system's footprint.

"I think our members definitely envision that there could be some consolidation between campuses, and we might need to go from 16 down to 15, 14, something like that," he said.

The university campuses in the system include UNC-Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, North Carolina Central University, Fayetteville State University, East Carolina University, UNC-Greensboro, North Carolina A&T State University, Winston-Salem State University, the UNC School of the Arts, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Wilmington, UNC-Pembroke, Elizabeth City State University, Appalachian State University, UNC-Asheville and Western Carolina University.

Brunstetter didn't elaborate on which campuses might close.

Sen. Pete Brunstetter Senator: Lawmakers want efficiency in UNC system

UNC President Tom Ross expressed concern Wednesday at the size of the proposed cut, which comes after $400 million in cuts in recent years. The consolidation proposal appeared to catch system administrators off guard, and Ross issued a statement that didn't directly address the issue.

"The university system remains committed to operating more efficiently and to doing its part to ensure North Carolina’s economic competitiveness and high quality of life," Ross said, calling UNC campuses "some of the state's most valuable assets."

"We recognize that we must do more with less and remain accountable to state taxpayers and policymakers," he said. "As outlined in our new strategic plan, we are taking steps to further streamline operations, improve instructional productivity and quality and refine and focus academic missions to meet current and future state needs."

Raeann George, a senior at N.C. State, said she is more concerned with steep tuition increases for out-of-state students that McCrory suggested to make up for the decrease in funding.

"It's a little troublesome," George, who is from Missouri, said the idea to raise tuition by up to 12.6 percent.

"If it's going to be even more expensive to come out here, it's just going to make it more difficult," she said. "I feel like people who might be thinking about applying from out of state might not want to."

Members of the Legislative Black Caucus railed against UNC cutbacks, as well as legislative elections that will fill the system's Board of Governors with Republican appointees.

"That's going to hurt the quality of education, the quality of teaching, the quality of research, the quality of everything that's in these institutions," Rep. Mickey Michaux, D-Durham, said of continued funding cuts.

Republicans argue, however, that they value the state's universities – only with a new view on value.

"I do think you're going to see a good, hard, honest look at the way the university conducts its business, the way resources are allocated and the way money is spent," Brunstetter said.


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  • Wirklich Mar 25, 2013

    It wouldn't surprise me if one of the GOP legislators would propose closing down one or more of the regional UNC system universities and replacing it with a "distance education only" option,by granting a contract to the first "for-profit" educational corporation that might market their product to them. I am very concerned about where these legislators are willing to take us as a state. It may take a long time to repair their damage!

  • Sherlock Mar 25, 2013

    That's ok as long as it does not have any affect on our teams, we need them not the education. The team is the most important item the school has going.

  • Wirklich Mar 25, 2013

    "Combine Chapel Hill, Greensboro and Central into one campus. Save a bunch of money. Combine the laws schools too." cooldela1966

    So, building several new academic buildings, residence halls, and hiring additional faculty (maybe from the closed univ.,)to accommodate the influx of several thousand new students from the other two universities(while leaving unused/ closing buildings on other campuses,)will save money, HOW? How about the positive impact of universities on the local economy?

  • cooldela1966 Mar 25, 2013

    Combine Chapel Hill, Greensboro and Central into one campus. Save a bunch of money. Combine the laws schools too.

  • coombs1973 Mar 23, 2013

    I particularly do not care if out of state or out of country students are unhappy with a rate hike. These are state universities paid for with state tax dollars. If Ms. George does not want to pay & attend of universities, I suggest she try Harvard, Georgetown or mostly any private school a.k.a. check out Duke's fees. I would love to see no university touched but we need to spend the money we have & not the money our children & grandchildren will make. If you have a way to save money, I bet the Governor's office would be happy to look into it. As for the uneducated whining about the lottery money, that is for public schools below grade 12 & not for the universities. When everyone stops making eductaion as political football, everyone will get a better education.

  • cooldela1966 Mar 23, 2013

    Who can sit in judgement of the UNC system?

    No one! The UNC system is above the General Assembly, above the Governor and above the common folk of North Carolina.

    I say this is heresy! Who can question the UNC system? No mortal, that is for sure!

    Love live the rising costs of the UNC system. Let them rise like the Phoenix. Let them soar like the Global Transpark. Arise, arise.

  • carolinafan Mar 23, 2013

    Someone mentioned making some of the smaller universities... satellite campuses of a larger university...that makes sense and get rid of any athletic programs at the satellite campuses and you will save millions.

  • Krimson Mar 23, 2013

    handbasket: "good riddance to those liberal indoctrination camps"

    so says the guy with a ECU avatar... Last I checked ECU was part of the UNC System... I'd laugh if it wasn't so tragic...

  • compsci78 Mar 22, 2013

    How about we use the Education Lottery money for ..I don't know...education? How can we pay out over half a BILLION dollars for a lottery win but we aren't making enough off of it to fund education?! The lottery is a big scam! The whole pitch for the lottery was to help fund the education system. Instead they use it to replace the education budget so they could turn around and put that money elsewhere which apparently isn't to help education! Someone needs to answer for this and I don't understand how something more hasn't done about it. WRAL .. how about run a story on that and expose the lie of the lottery!!

  • Relic Mar 22, 2013

    "But instead of showing pride for the world recognized stature of the UNC system, conservatives only see a liberal inc"

    If you meant "tea partiers" instead of "conservatives" you would be closer to fact. Some of the greatest conservative thinkers have extensive university educations and they would cringe at the thought of closing even a more liberal established college or university. Rick Santorum does NOT speak for "conservatives" I don't care what he says. If you came into a college or university with a "faith conviction" and then "lost" it I question how strong that conviction was to begin with. Christians and other people of faith cannot live in a vacuum.