The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday December 2nd

Final Cuts To Budget Remain Uncertain

UNC-Chapel Hill budget awaits system direction

The system budget cut of 2.9 percent decided Friday was far less than the 5 percent cut the University began bracing for last spring.

Now, UNC-CH administrators must wait at least a week before hearing and acting upon concrete budget figures. "The short-term news looks good," said Provost Robert Shelton. "But we don't know what the cut is going to be yet."

The General Assembly's decision still must be approved by Gov. Mike Easley before being sent to the state budget office. This office will then send new appropriations to each state agency, including the UNC system.

The Office of the President then will send the final number to UNC-CH's provost's office. Finally, the provost will divide the cut among various University departments based on budget hearings conducted last April and May.

Officials began responding to the state's budget crisis last spring by eliminating course sections from several popular classes and cutting some lecturing positions.

In an interview in August, Risa Palm, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said the college might eliminate 20 to 25 vacant positions. Despite the fact that the budget passed Friday, Palm said Monday that she won't know what actions to take until she receives specific numbers from the provost's office.

Provost Robert Shelton said that he does not know what exact figures to expect but that he anticipates receiving the final number next week. He then will contact individual departments within 48 hours to relay their final cuts, he said.

Shelton said the provost's office will maintain last year's decision to let department deans and vice chancellors meet their budget limits as they see fit. "It wouldn't be good (for the provost's office) to make decisions at that micro-level."

He added that the reduced budget cuts passed last week will not have a profound effect on students, who were made aware of potential 5 percent cuts last spring. "I don't think students will notice anything different," Shelton said. "Preparations made by the deans last spring took care of the blow."

As of Monday, Palm did not know whether last week's decision on budget cuts would reverse measures taken since the spring or even allow the University to resume the process of recruiting and hiring new employees. Although she has no final answers at this point, she said she is pleased with the General Assembly's decision. "We are relieved that the legislature decided to support higher education."

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

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