Local News

UNC system lays off 270, cuts another 600-plus positions

Posted September 17, 2009 1:03 p.m. EDT
Updated September 17, 2009 7:09 p.m. EDT

— The University of North Carolina system has eliminated more than 900 positions across its 16 campuses in recent months to offset lower state funding, officials said Thursday.

More than 95 percent of the cuts – 866 positions – were administrative jobs, officials said. About 40 faculty jobs also were cut.

"We've been focusing on administration from the beginning of this," UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp said.

Officials said 270 people have been laid off across the university system, but it was unclear Thursday how many other people were affected by the cuts. Some people who had both administrative and teaching duties had the former job cut but remain on faculty.

"The campuses – the chancellors – have done a very good job managing this crisis," said Rob Nelson, the UNC system's vice president for finance. "We will be looking to see if there are other administrative positions, particularly senior administrative positions, that we can eliminate during the year."

UNC President Erskine Bowles said he knows of at least 66 positions targeted for elimination in the coming months.

"I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that the future of this university (system) – and I believe the economic future of North Carolina – hinges on how efficiently and effectively we get this job done," Bowles told members of the UNC Board of Governors. "I can guarantee you we have a team here that's dedicated to doing it and doing it right."

North Carolina State University eliminated 206 positions and 10 programs, while UNC-Chapel Hill cut 204 positions and state funding for nine programs. Those programs will continue to operate using funds from other sources, officials said.

North Carolina Central University cut 21 positions, while Fayetteville State University cut 18 and East Carolina University cut 83.

Thorp said about half of the positions cut on his campus involved laying off workers.

"These are difficult transitions for us, but we are trying to handle them as professionally as we possibly can, and we feel like we are making sure we are making changes in areas where we can continue to meet our service obligations," he said. 

Bowles also called for enrollment caps at campuses that don't meet graduation and student retention goals. He said the move would be aimed more at improving quality within the UNC system than at cutting costs.