Others could follow NCCU's lead in cutting degree programs

Posted March 5, 2012 2:00 p.m. EST
Updated March 5, 2012 9:36 p.m. EST

— Some of the University of North Carolina’s 16 campuses are re-evaluating their academic programs in the wake of severe budget cuts and anticipation for what's likely to be tough fiscal years ahead.

North Carolina Central University's Board of Trustees two weeks ago approved a measure to cut several of its degree programs and to consolidate several others

“We have about 14 programs that will be affected in some way or another," Chancellor Charlie Nelms said. "About five of them will be discontinued."

Nelms said the cuts come to those with lower enrollment, including the entire undergraduate and graduate sociology programs, public administration, art and French programs. Several others will be merged, such as the math and physics programs and English and foreign languages. (See which programs have been affected.)

The changes will involve cutting as many as 15 full-time administrative jobs and numerous part-time adjunct professors.

“We will be able to free up about $2 million that we will be able to reinvest in our highest priority, and that is to retain students,” Nelms said.

Students currently enrolled in the programs to be eliminated will still be able to earn their degree, and the university will continue monitoring all remaining programs, striving for efficiency.

“For those programs that remain, we are telling them they must develop enhancement plans,” Nelms said.

Fayetteville State University has cut five undergraduate programs and two graduate programs over the past three years.

In addition to restructuring its administration to save about $50 million, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has also consolidated or cut programs over the last several years and will continue looking at other low-productivity programs for more possible cuts.

North Carolina State University is nearly a year into a similar evaluation of all its academic programs.

East Carolina University formed a committee formed last May to consider more than 50 options for altering the academic structure that could involve consolidating schools and possibly eliminating programs.

Budget cuts have already forced the 16 university campuses and the School of Science and Math in Durham to drop more than 3,000 employees and reduce library hours at Appalachian State University and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, according to a UNC system report.

The UNC Board of Governors earlier this month approved a tuition increase plan that will raise fees by an average of 8.8 percent on UNC system campuses for the 2012-13 school year.