The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday May 31st

UNC-System Board of Governors discuss next 5-year plan

The UNC-system Board of Governors set into action Thursday a plan that will mark the course of the system for the next five years.

The board, which will reconvene today, discussed the renewal of its strategic plan that will guide the system’s 17 campuses from 2013 to 2018 — and created two committees to pave the path.

“It would be fair to say that a lot has happened since 2007,” system President Thomas Ross said at the meeting. “The world is a very different place than it was, so I think now is a very appropriate time to decide our direction for the next five years.”

Ross is leading a special advisory committee composed of UNC-system administrators and statewide business and political leaders.

N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis, State Treasurer Janet Cowell, former UNC-system President Bill Friday and UNC-CH Chancellor Holden Thorp are among those on the committee.

Ross said he aims to increase graduation rates, strengthen academic standards and maximize efficiency.

“We’re going to be in a period of limited resources for some time to come — we owe it to the taxpayers to save as much as we can,” he said.

The board created a separate group, chaired by board member Fred Eshelman, to take a more data-based approach to what the strategic plan should look like.

Eshelman said he hopes to present the group’s findings to the board in January.

“We’re going to be brutally critical of all the data we have,” he said, adding that the group will have no preconceived notions.

“We’re not here to prove something.”

The board’s budget and finance committee also approved a revision of its tuition and financial aid policy.

The current policy requires schools to set aside at least 25 percent of new tuition revenues for need-based aid, but the proposal passed by the committee would allow each school to determine the aid percentage that best suits the needs of students on its campus.

Administrators would also be required to disclose how much tuition revenue is being allocated toward financial aid on students’ tuition bills.

Board member Louis Bissette said the proposal represents a compromise among state residents concerned about the impact of rising tuition costs on both low-income and middle-class students.

“We had a lot of comments from across the state — some people saying, ‘This is great that you use 25 percent,’” he said. “We had some people — single parents, parents who are struggling to pay tuition for their child — and they were saying, ‘You know, I’m struggling to make this payment, and you are taking 25 percent of it to give to someone else.’

“I think the board felt that because each campus has a different socioeconomic makeup of its student body, it would be best left to each campus to make that decision.”

The full board is expected to vote on the proposal today.

Assistant State & National Editor Erika Keil
contributed reporting.

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