Long before the N.C. General Assembly finalized a new state budget last month, higher education leaders knew two more years of tight finances would be on the horizon.
The UNC system has seen nearly half a billion dollars erased from its state funding since 2011, including about $65 million in fresh cuts in the 2013-14 budget.
Charlie Perusse, the UNC system’s chief operating officer, said chancellors were warned months ago to prepare for a cut of 3 to 5 percent — but the implications of a fifth-straight year of budget cuts remain to be seen.
Smaller schools like Elizabeth City State University, which will see its $35 million budget slashed by nearly 10 percent, could feel the brunt of the burden, Perusse said.
UNC-CH will take a 5.5 percent cut of $28 million — including a $15 million reduction for the UNC School of Medicine.
“UNC-CH took a pretty big percentage, but they’ll be able to manage,” Perusse said. “For a little school like Elizabeth City State, 10 percent is tough.”
Jim Dean, UNC-CH executive vice chancellor and provost, said the lack of finances to support faculty is one of his chief concerns. The budget did not include raises for UNC-system employees.
“In the last year, we’ve lost more faculty than we’ve been able to keep,” Dean said.
System leaders have said they don’t want to shift more financial pressure onto students — President Tom Ross announced earlier this month he’d recommend a tuition freeze for in-state students next year after a decade of increases.