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System officials mull issue of cap

The nonresident enrollment cap will come under scrutiny again this month as the UNC system’s governing body investigates the possibility of deviating from the 18 percent limit.

A committee of the Board of Governors decided Thursday to investigate the deviation, which would have to be “within the spirit of the 18 percent.” The change might only apply to smaller system schools.

One such school was the cause for the re-emergence of talks about the cap.

UNC-Asheville overshot nonresident enrollment for two consecutive years, so the Budget and Finance Committee voted Thursday to reduce the school’s 2004-05 budget. The university enrolled 13 students over the cap this past fall and will lose $97,570.

The board first heard a proposal in fall 2003, spearheaded by UNC Chancellor James Moeser, to raise the 18 percent cap on nonresident admissions by 4 percent.

Board member Ed Broadwell was prepared Thursday to waive the policy for UNC-A and allow time to look into the possibility of a deviation.

Jeff Davies, system vice president for finance, said the board waived the policy for Elizabeth City State University for enrolling more than the 18 percent nonresident students allowed in both the 2001-02 and 2002-03 academic years. The board did not further reduce the school’s budget because it already was experiencing a serious reduction.

Board member Cary Owen said UNC-A is one of the most underfunded schools in the 16-campus system. “I believe in adequate funding more than (this policy).”

But while Broadwell gained some support, many board members were adamantly against delaying the punishment.

“This is our policy and, in my judgment, really ought to be enforced,” said board member Ray Farris. “We either stand behind the policy or not. They knew this and had every opportunity to get down under it.”

Though BOG Chairman Brad Wilson agreed with the nature of Broadwell’s request, he said the policy should be enforced.

“You have to discipline those that you love. We should enforce this policy, as painful as it is.”

Wilson also noted the widespread interest in the enrollment cap debate and warned that if the committee truly wanted to change the policy, it should do so in “the cool of the evening — not in reaction to this.”

“If we fail to enforce this policy, we will increase the chance we’ll have legislative intervention on a policy that should be left up to this board.”

During the legislature’s short session last summer, Rep. Alex Warner, D-Cumberland, co-sponsored a bill that would legislate a cap.

His bill would have allowed legislators to take up the issue but ultimately was referred back to committee.

But committee members were quick to point out that the deviation talk would not evolve into a fundamental change to the out-of-state enrollment cap.

“This is not a review and debate about the validity of the 18 percent cap,” said Jim Phillips, the committee’s chairman. “That falls under the jurisdiction of the planning committee, and it is not on their agenda.”

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