Local News

University faculty offer to cut pay

Posted January 30, 2009 10:55 a.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

— Faculty at some University of North Carolina campuses have offered to accept pay cuts to save other jobs amid tight budgets, officials said Friday.

A UNC Board of Governors committee was discussing President Erskine Bowles' recent recommendation to limit tuition increases for in-state students next fall.

Bowles on Tuesday called for slashing requests for higher tuition from the system's 16 campuses by a third, to an average of 2.8 percent. He also said the system's overall cap on tuition increases should be lowered from 6.5 to 4.5 percent, saying a college education needed to remain affordable to families hit hard by the recession.

"While we recommended a reduction in the original request, I do want to stress we really need these funds," he said Friday.

Individual chancellors told the board Friday that they supported Bowles' recommendation and pledged not to cut financial aid as their own budgets were squeezed.

"I think it makes sense in light of the changes that we've seen in the financial environment," UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp said. "We just have to work all of these problems of ours out."

To help erase North Carolina's growing budget deficit, the state has pulled $150 million from the UNC system's annual appropriation.

Some faculty at North Carolina State University offered to take a 5 percent pay cut to save jobs, Chancellor James Oblinger said, adding no faculty expect raises this year.

"Department heads are telling me I've got faculty that are willing to take salary cuts and are willing to do this that or the other to preserve jobs of staff that support them or staff in the department," Oblinger said.

Temporary furloughs of university staff also are under consideration to save money, Bowles said. Furloughs would have to be approved by the General Assembly, as well as the Board of Governors.

Under Bowles' tuition proposal, in-state undergraduate tuition at UNC-Chapel Hill would go up $160, to $3,705, while tuition at N.C. State would increase by $93, to $3,860. Tuition at North Carolina Central University would go to $2,218, up $93, and Fayetteville State University tuition would go up by $79, to $1,826.

Oblinger and Thorp said they would work hard to keep class sizes down as they searched for ways to trim their budgets.

"Every student is probably going to be delayed in one way or another because of the availability of courses. So, a very critical need will be too monitor very carefully how we reinvest new dollars into keeping things going," Oblinger said.

"Any (tuition) increase is not going to be good on the wallet," UNC-Chapel Hill freshman Luke Erlemann said. "As long as they are doing what they can to keep it low, I'm going to be satisfied."

Last year, tuition went up by an average of 1.2 percent across the UNC system.