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The Daily Tar Heel

BOG Fears Budget Cuts May Bleed UNC System

UNC-system President Molly Broad expressed concern during her report before the full board that the N.C. General Assembly might force the UNC system to make deep budget cuts.

Broad said University officials have testified at hearings before members of the Joint Appropriations Committee on Education in recent weeks to comb through the system's funding needs.

"The hearings have been held under the shadow of the budget shortfall," Broad told the board.

She added that legislators might look to cut even more from the system's budget than the recommendations made by Gov. Mike Easley in his budget proposal, which could be difficult for the UNC system to handle. "This is especially sobering news for the university because it comes on the heels of $32 million in cuts," Broad said.

In February, UNC-system officials agreed to return $32 million -- about 2 percent of the UNC system's annual, allocated budget -- to the state, a move system leaders touted as a sign that they were willing to accommodate the cash-strapped legislature.

Broad added that UNC-system officials will continue working to convince legislators that further budget cuts will have an adverse effect on the UNC system and the state's economy.

"We are prepared to shoulder our burden of the fiscal challenges in North Carolina," Broad said. "But we are equally mindful that these budget reductions pose some very stiff challenges for our campuses in the face of rapidly rising enrollment and the increasingly competitive environment in which they are hiring faculty and staff."

The board also made tentative plans Friday to deal with another issue that has been a topic of debate in recent months -- its tuition policy.

The current BOG tuition policy, which was implemented two years ago, calls for campus-initiated tuition increase requests to only be granted in emergency situations. But in the last two years the BOG has approved 11 requests for tuition increases, including a $600 increase at UNC last year.

BOG Committee on Budget and Finance Chairman Bradley Wilson said that after an extensive discussion of the policy, committee members agreed that the best course of action would be to hold a workshop to discuss the issue during the May BOG meeting.

In other board action Thursday, Wilson reported to the board that more than 10 percent of the proceeds from the $3.1 billion bond referendum approved last year are under contract, with many coming under their expected bid value.

The BOG also approved a proposal to trim the number of board meetings each year from 11 to eight.

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