Running a university without teachers is like running a hospital without doctors. It simply isn’t an option.
UNC departments are preparing for another wave of budget cuts, and this time, teachers could be hit the hardest.
Administrators will know the full extent of the budget cuts after April 15, when income taxes are due.
The damage could be as large as a 5 percent budget cut. A mere 2 percent budget cut would total $52 million.
More than 930 jobs were lost last year because of budget cuts that totaled nearly $300 million. Close to 900 of those were administrative, which means UNC is talking about cutting back on faculty.
In a recession, everybody suffers. But legislators and UNC administrators are going to have to get creative, or at the very least, equitable.
UNC-system President Erskine Bowles said last year’s budget cuts put a disproportionate burden on the UNC system. Although the system only makes up 13 percent of the state’s total budget, it took 29 percent of the cuts, he said.
Of course, this might be the easiest course of action for many of the legislators in the General Assembly.
Without a solid constituency of UNC students, many legislators might feel higher education is where they can take the most while doing the least damage to their political careers.
The legislature hasn’t yet threatened public support for higher education like many states have during the recession, but the temptation to do so lingers.
Regardless, budget cuts will be an inevitability, which means UNC administrators themselves will need to be more fiscally judicious.
Expansion of the University must come to a halt.
Computer labs and libraries might need to limit their hours further.
Advising and counseling services could be trimmed. And Chancellor Holden Thorp’s $420,000 annual salary could be re-examined.
But keep the professors.
In order for the UNC system to continue to be one of the top in the nation and a continued source of pride for state, it can’t afford to lose its key ingredient.
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