The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday January 20th

ASU Keeps Freeze on Expenses

But UNC-CH Provost Robert Shelton says that no freezes on spending or renovation have been ordered yet.

But UNC-system officials said it is up to individual universities to choose their response to looming threats of budget cuts.

Two weeks ago, Gov. Mike Easley indicated that the UNC system might have to contend with budget reductions of up to 4 percent.

But Easley has said he will try to avoid targeting educational programs when looking for additional savings within state expenditures.

Appalachian State has been significantly affected this fiscal year. Not only was it allotted $2 million less by the state than last year, but the university must now deal with additional decreases in funding.

Appalachian State officials immediately began limiting expenditures as soon as they realized the ensuing shortfall of state-appropriated funds.

Bob Shaffer, associate vice chancellor for public affairs at Appalachian State, defined the freezing as immediately curtailing some expenditures.

The university will freeze most vacant staff positions, reorganize staff positions to prevent hiring, halt spending on noninstructional items, curtail traveling for faculty and freeze repairs and renovations that have not yet begun.

"We're using a twofold approach," Shaffer said. "We are looking to both protect current employees and preserve the quality of our education by eliminating nonessential spending."

He added he could not forecast next year's budget situation, but said that in the meantime Appalachian State will continue its restructuring process.

Shaffer said he does not believe Appalachian State will combine classes ease the budget crunch. "Small classes are a hallmark of our university," he said.

But James Smith, UNC-system assistant vice president of finance, said the term "freeze" might be used prematurely right now.

"There's not a need for a total freeze right now, just to control the rate of expenditures," he said.

Smith added he and others are anticipating more communication concerning this issue to come out of the governor's office during the next couple of weeks.

Roger Patterson, associate vice chancellor for finance at UNC-Chapel Hill, said he has not heard yet how the 4 percent reversion specifically will affect UNC-CH. "Like everyone else, we're waiting for a decision to be made."

Patterson said he thinks UNC-CH will respond by allowing each individual school or department within the University to make its own changes.

UNC-CH Provost Robert Shelton said no freezes have been ordered for the University and likely will not be until officials discover the size of the budget cut.

"It's important to note that we haven't received any written instructions (from the state) yet," Shelton said.

"I'm sure budget cuts will have an impact on us all, so our number one goal is to keep North Carolina's universities great."

The State & National Editor can be reached at stntdesk@unc.edu.

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