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BOG discusses student involvement, degree programs

As members of the UNC-system Board of Governors prepare for drastic state budget cuts, university chancellors are being forced to compete for attention and funding.

Campus administrators and student leaders were present at Thursday’s board meeting to voice concerns about student involvement in the decision making process, research funding and the looming threat of program elimination.

Student involvement

A committee of student leaders and administrators from across the system presented recommendations for increasing student involvement in the tuition and fee setting process.

At the request of system President Thomas Ross, the committee presented five core principles to the board.

These recommendations include measures, such as utilizing social media, to bridge the gap between students and administrators when discussing tuition.

“It’s important that students are informed on decisions the administrators are making that are ultimately going to affect them,” committee member Matthew Victory said.

Victory, student body president at UNC-Wilmington, said UNCW’s policy sets the precedent for student involvement.

“Half of our tuition and fee setting committees are comprised of students,” Victory said. “This ensures that students won’t be outvoted by administrators.”

Unnecessary duplication

Board members have been using the phrase “unnecessary duplication” since January when Ross initiated a review of the system’s 2,000 degree programs.

While the phrase’s definition is still unclear, former UNC-Charlotte and N.C. State University Chancellor Jim Woodward has already begun the research phase of his review.

But pressure is being put on the board to formulate the plan in a timely manner.

Hannah Gage, chairwoman of the board, said by fall there should be enough information for the board to begin more serious conversations about which programs to eliminate or combine.

Woodward will speak to provosts and look at what’s being done in other states in terms of consolidation and duplication.

Funding for research

In an economy where schools are having to cut back on research projects because of tight funding, the UNC system raised a record of nearly $1.4 billion for new projects.

Despite almost $200 million of the awarded funding coming from stimulus money, UNC faculty have explored additional funding sources.

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