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The Daily Tar Heel

Budget, Enrollment Worry Faculty

At Friday's meeting, the council passed a resolution of concern about enrollment increases exceeding funds.

The council also passed a resolution to voice its concerns about future enrollment increases outstripping funding from the N.C. General Assembly.

"If we're going to bring new students on campus, we need to correlate growth in our budget, and if not, we need to rethink bringing the students to campus," said Randall Hendrick, chairman of the UNC-CH Educational Policy Committee, which proposed the resolution.

With little discussion besides debate on word choice, the council adopted the resolution, which states, "The Faculty Council calls for the General Assembly to provide adequate increased funding for the University system to accommodate enrollment increases. Failing this, the (UNC-system) Board of Governors should slow or postpone increased enrollment until budgetary capacity is sufficient."

Faculty Council Chairwoman Sue Estroff said, "This resolution permits us to transmit to the state legislature our concerns."

Chancellor James Moeser also articulated a pessimistic view of how much money the General Assembly will allocate to UNC-system schools in the upcoming legislative session.

Moeser said he and the UNC system's other chancellors have received direct communication from Gov. Mike Easley indicating that Easley wants to protect the classroom. But Moeser said he is skeptical that the University will not be further impacted.

"We can continue to expect cuts in some amount, and no one knows how much," he said.

"It's my sense that it would be difficult to make further cuts without impacting instruction. We have been pushed against the wall."

After pledging to minimize the budget cuts' impacts on teaching, Moeser pointed to the threat of the state taking away the University's facilities and administrative funds as "the most critical issue we will face this coming legislative session."

These facilities and administrative funds, also called overhead receipts or F&A funds, are recovered from the federal government to lower the University's uncompensated costs from funded research.

Due to a state budget shortfall for the 2002-03 fiscal year that might exceed $1 billion, some legislators are arguing that F&A funds are a significant source of potential revenue for the state.

But Moeser said UNC-CH's F&A funds, which total about $75 million, are "absolutely vital to our research mission."

He said these funds are needed to pay for employee salaries, building projects, public service projects, undergraduate research, library databases, faculty startup packages and research compliance.

"Any cuts to our ability to keep F&A funds would cause research at UNC to stagnate," Moeser said.

Moeser encouraged the council members to talk to other faculty members and legislators about the University's need to retain its F&A funds.

He also asked them to be patient while the University copes with the continuing budget crisis. "We're going to be faced with tough decisions, and it will not be pleasant," Moeser said. "We recognize that we're not alone. Every state is dealing with financial duress."

Moeser also pointed out that the General Assembly has "historically been very generous" to UNC-system schools in regards to funding.

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

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