The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday October 5th

Funding Needs Remain, Despite Slower Growth

University officials still say they need $500 million to improve facilities, despite the provost office's recent prediction that enrollment growth will be slower than previously projected. At Thursday's Board of Trustees meeting, interim Provost Richard Edwards announced that UNC-Chapel Hill's projected enrollment growth through 2008 would be only 2,200 students. UNC-system officials have projected that UNC-CH will absorb nearly 6,000 new students in the same time period. University advocates have used projected enrollment growth as leverage in their quest for additional state funding. UNC-Chapel Hill is set to receive half a billion dollars if voters approve a $3.1 billion bond referendum to fund capital improvements at the state's universities and community colleges Nov. 7. John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation - one of the few groups whose members have organized some opposition against the bond - questioned the necessity of such a large bond package, especially if enrollment growth is slower than originally projected. "The bond referendum's main purpose is expansion," Hood said. "If there's any question about the rate of expansion, then that questions the need of the whole bond." Hood also said he questioned the need for rapid expansion because it would mostly add underqualified students into the system. But Bruce Runberg, UNC associate vice chancellor for facilities, said the drop in projected enrollment will not have an impact on either facility needs or upcoming construction projects. Runberg also said the determination of capital needs was based on three factors - renovation needs, existing deficiencies and projected enrollment growth. "(Enrollment) was only one part of the requirement," he said, citing the need for a new science complex with a price tag of about $90 million. Edwards said the lower projected enrollment does not decrease UNC's facilities needs. "No one ever thought that the $500 million was all that we would need," Edwards said. "Initially, we were projecting well over a billion dollars in needs." He added that the new figures would not in any way change how University officials will spend the money the university could receive from the bond. John Evans, UNC vice chancellor for finance, said the University's total capital needs were about $1.6 billion. Funding for the remaining needs could come partially from a seven-year fund-raising campaign that UNC officials hope will garner more than $1 billion, Edwards said. Jeff Davies, UNC-system vice president for finance, also said many of the needs on the UNC campus were immediate needs, not just for future campus growth. "If you look at UNC-Chapel Hill, their projects are needed right now for the students that are there and coming in," Davies said. He said the construction on the UNC campus would affect students for many years to come. Davies said, "We're not just repairing the buildings, we're trying to make them usable for the next century." The State & National Editor can be reached at stntdesk@unc.edu.


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