The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday February 3rd

UNC Might See Higher Price Tag

When a committee on faculty salaries recommended a tuition increase to the Board of Trustees in 1999, students claimed the initiative was not a long-term solution to faculty salary problems.

During Wednesday's State of the University address, Chancellor James Moeser affirmed that further tuition increases are needed to increase salaries.

Moeser revealed his intentions to propose a five-year tuition increase plan to the BOT this fall. "Clearly, we must continue with graduated and measured campus-initiated increases in tuition over the next several years to address issues about the quality of the education we provide," Moeser said in his speech.

Moeser said he will not be presenting his proposal at the BOT's September meeting but that he expects his plan's framework and specific amounts to be finalized when the state legislature's session concludes, he hopes by November. "We haven't put anything on paper yet," Moeser said Thursday.

The BOT passed a plan in October 1999 that would have increased tuition $300 a year for five years. Officials were met with opposition from student leaders and some faculty members, culminating in a protest at the Morehead Building while the BOT met to approve the plan.

The Board of Governors modified and approved the measure in February 2000 -- raising tuition $300 each year for only two years. "We need to update that plan," Moeser said Thursday.

BOT member Richard Stevens, who voted against the measure in 1999, said he is not necessarily opposed to tuition increases but will need to evaluate the specific proposal. "I think all of us desire to keep tuition as low as possible, but it's not possible to keep tuition the same," he said. "I'm not opposed to the concept of tuition increases, I just thought (the 1999 increase) was too much too soon."

Student Body President Justin Young and Vice President Rudy Kleysteuber did not return phone calls Thursday.

In 1999, the committee on faculty salaries was formed to determine amounts of the increases and recommend them to the BOT. While Moeser said he hasn't ruled out the possibility of needing a similar committee this time around, he said he doesn't think one will be necessary.

Moeser said insufficient faculty salaries were the catalyst for his proposal and that he is concerned wages are not at a level to recruit and retain quality faculty.

Other members of the UNC community also said it is necessary to address the issue of faculty salaries. "We're getting very noncompetitive," said Sue Estroff, Faculty Council chairwoman. "We're getting virtually no raise this year. ... Our benefits are getting worse."

Several officials said while tuition increases might be necessary to raise salaries, the state should step up to contribute sufficient funds to ensure that tuition remains affordable. Allocating part of the funds earned from tuition increases to financial aid also can help maintain affordable enrollment, Moeser said, stressing that 35 percent of the revenue from the past tuition hike was committed to financial aid. Moeser said a new increase would also revert some money to aid.

"I don't think we're denying anyone access based on need," he said.

Estroff said she hopes that when increases are proposed it doesn't cause a war between students, faculty and administrators -- a repeat of the battle in 1999. "I don't think that was helpful for anybody."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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