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Saturday December 4th

UNC School of Journalism unveils budget cuts

Faculty responds with concern for pay raises

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication is already dealing with a budget cut of $169,000 for the current year.

And that number could rise to as much as $846,000 next year, said Jean Folkerts, the school’s dean.

In a meeting with faculty Monday morning, Folkerts unveiled the three budget cut scenarios the school would have to implement for state budget cuts of 5, 10 and 15 percent. Bruce Carney, executive vice chancellor and provost, has requested that all units of the University prepare for the three levels of cuts as the state addresses a budget shortfall of between $2.4 billion and $2.7 billion.

The lowest level of cuts comes at about $242,000, with the middle and highest cuts at about $544,000 and $846,000, respectively.

“It’s a tough position to be in because you have to plan strategically to preserve and grow your program as best you can in a time where it’s very difficult to do so,” Folkerts said in an interview.

Faculty responded with concern that the cuts would further delay salary raises and reduce course offerings, challenging some students’ ability to graduate in four years.

Chris Roush, the Walter E. Hussman Sr. distinguished scholar in business journalism, has been with the school since July 2002. He said he has not received a pay raise since the 2008-09 school year.

In the time since, he has received at least four teaching awards, including 2010 N.C. Professor of the Year.

“The last pay raise I got was pretty small,” he said in an e-mail. “With one son in college and another in high school, I can’t last much longer at UNC in the current situation. I began looking at other universities this year and will continue to do so.”

If given an offer from another university, Roush, who earns a salary of $85,240, said he would present it to UNC to try to get a pay raise before weighing his options. Offers from other universities represent one of a handful of the salary freeze exceptions provided by the UNC General Assembly.

“It seems to be the only way to get a raise these days,” he said. “It seems like a silly way to run a business. Why would your best people have to go out into the job market to get a raise with their current employee?”

Roush said he has spoken with colleagues who are also searching for other opportunities.

But Joe Bob Hester, an associate professor in the school who stepped down as associate dean for undergraduate studies in December, said he will endure the tough times.

“Every public university in the country is in a similar place, so I’m not sure that jumping ship is a viable position,” he said.

“I’m not interested in leaving, but I certainly understand why some people might,” he added.

Folkerts said she submitted the proposals to the provost’s office on Monday.

“I’m very concerned about the second and third levels (of cuts),” she said. “Both would have enormous effects on the program.”

Depending on which cut is implemented, Hester said students could face difficulties in taking necessary courses, which would result in delayed graduations.

Junior Caroline McKay said she had trouble getting into classes this semester and can’t afford to not graduate on time.

“I don’t really have the money or the time to stick around for an extra semester just because they can’t offer classes to me when I need them,” she said.

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