DURHAM — The UNC system will have to cut about 1,000 jobs, more than half of those among faculty, if the state legislature approves a 5 percent budget cut now being considered, system President Erskine Bowles warned Friday.
Cuts also could lead to fewer course offerings, larger classes, shorter library and lab hours and fewer counselors and advisers, he said.
Bowles called on university chancellors and Board of Governors members to help fight against further budget cuts and those outcomes.
“It will be a much, much lower quality of education we will offer our students,” Bowles said at Friday’s monthly board meeting, which most chancellors also attend.
The plea was a response to a request for government agencies, including the UNC system, to consider how they would handle a potential 5 percent budget cut.
So far, the system has only been told to make a 2 percent cut, which would amount to about $52 million.
“If we are asked to go beyond that 2 percent cut, I’m going to call for action,” Bowles said. “It will do substantial and unsustainable damage to the quality of education we have to offer our students.”
They have been preparing for that cut all year and think it can be focused almost entirely on administrative costs, Bowles said.
“You can only take these administrative cuts so far, and if we have to go above that, the vast majority will come out of the academic side,” Bowles said.
Last year’s cuts, which totaled almost $300 million, resulted in the loss of 935 jobs, almost 900 of those administrative.
The focus on administrators meant a slight impact on students and academic quality, he said.
While the administrative budget was cut permanently by 18 percent last year, the academic budget was only reduced about 0.3 percent, he said.
The system has now gotten to potential cuts that could drastically affect students.
“We’re cutting into the muscle now,” said board chairwoman Hannah Gage.
And generations of progress could be undone with just a couple years of cuts, she said.
The hope is that the legislature will spare the UNC system when deciding where to apply 5 percent cuts if they are approved, Bowles said.
Last year, the UNC system — which makes up about 13 percent of the state’s budget — took 29 percent of the cuts, he said.
“We took such a disproportionate amount of the cuts this year. We’ve been good partners and we haven’t complained about it,” Bowles said.
Other meeting business
At the Friday meeting, board members also elected a new chancellor for UNC-Pembroke.
Kyle Carter, 62, is currently the senior vice chancellor and provost at Western Carolina University. He will replace interim Chancellor Charles Jenkins.
Members also approved the educational planning committee’s contentious decision in favor of a pharmacy school campus at UNC-Asheville, which would be a satellite of the UNC-Chapel Hill Eshelman School of Pharmacy.
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