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Faculty Discuss Implications of Proposed Cuts

Faculty Discuss Implications of Proposed Cuts

Even before an N.C. General Assembly subcommittee asked UNC-system officials to find a way to cut $125 million -- $25 million for UNC -- the professor accepted another position that offered better pay.

UNC officials estimate that cuts would eliminate 80 faculty positions, in addition to large cuts in financial support to the libraries, travelling and equipment funds.

And this well-respected professor, who wishes to remain anonymous, thinks the budget cuts are evidence that UNC is headed in the wrong direction.

"It's taking its toll -- this place is clearly on the downward slide and all talk of improving it by the government is just talk," the professor said.

Chemistry Professor Edward Samulski is inclined to agree. He co-conducted a study in 1999 and concluded that UNC's total compensation of faculty, when factored in with the cost of Chapel Hill living, ranked about 60th out of 85 research institutions.

He said that the tuition increases of 2000 -- $600 over two years -- ultimately would not help UNC's case in attracting faculty because of a simple error in logic. "The proposed increases put into effect last spring were designed to make us competitive with the 1999 salaries of our peers -- but five years later," Samulski said.

He said the anonymous professor's dissatisfaction could be indicative of an epidemic, leading to larger problems at the University.

"(The proposed budget cut) will hurt education at UNC," Samulski said. "The 80 faculty cuts will be very detrimental, especially if you fold in the anticipated increase in enrollment. It will be a hit below the belt, so to speak."

David Guilkey, a professor of economics who co-wrote the study with Samulski, looks at the situation from a broader economical standpoint.

"Personal income in the state of North Carolina last year grew at over 8 percent -- the state actually did better than average," he said. "The economy of the state is really not that bad, (so the cut in education) frustrates people."

Guilkey said that faculty are more upset about the University's direction than they are with their own salaries. "The faculty I've talked to are less concerned about their salaries than they are about the state of education (at UNC)."

But the anonymous professor said a quality Big 10 university was offering a hefty pay increase. The professor had initially decided to accept but reversed the decision when the university's state passed a 6 percent budget cut. "It was announced while I was out there that there was a 6 percent budget cut," the professor said. "That was one of the factors that indicated to me that the state university was not headed in the right direction."

The professor said the UNC-system budget cut of 7 percent ironically was announced just days later and caused the professor to resent having passed up such a good opportunity at another public university. "Ask me if I feel like a goddamn fool, and I do," the professor said. "Now I'm strapped to the ship, and I'm too tired to look elsewhere -- it's just exhausting."

The professor said in the end UNC's financial woes are more disturbing than the lack of exorbitant salary.

"I and my colleagues are appalled, especially because of the cut (of 45 percent) in the library's funds, which will make it impossible to maintain our top standing as a research institution, difficult to keep faculty, harder still to attract new faculty, harder as well to attract good graduate students and therefore harder to maintain our quality of education," the professor said.

Guilkey recapped the state's strategy. "They took three one-time financial hits -- Hurricane Floyd and two lawsuits against the state -- and they're trying to pay for it in permanent cuts in state programming and education," he said.

"When you've got a state that's doing well, you wonder what's going to happen when (the economy) gets bad."

The University Editor can be reached at

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