The N.C. General Assembly granted $5 million for a systemwide raise in the 2014-15 state budget, which Gov. Pat McCrory signed Aug. 7.
The UNC Board of Governors’ budget and finance committee on Wednesday voted to approve suggested allocations of that state money to individual campuses.
It’s not yet clear how much of a raise faculty members will receive — further details will be determined at the board’s September meeting.
Faculty retention at many system campuses, including UNC-CH, has been hampered in part by the lack of salary raises.
Enticing research opportunities at UNC-CH’s peer institutions has lured some faculty elsewhere — and the state budget also granted $3 million to a game-changing research fund that would invest in systemwide research in fields like manufacturing and energy.
Michael Vollmer, an assistant vice president for finance, said the funding for the faculty raise represents a small chunk of the billion-dollar systemwide payroll, but he said any state-supported hike in salary is positive.
Under the proposed campus distribution, UNC-CH would receive a little more than $1 million for faculty pay hikes, divided among the College of Arts and Sciences and professional schools, UNC Hospitals and area health education centers.
All UNC-system employees who are not faculty or senior administrators are receiving a $1,000 raise.
Wednesday’s meeting also included discussion of state budget issues concerning the system, which were far less numerous than usual this year.
Andrea Poole, an assistant vice president for finance, said the system isn’t absorbing any net budget cuts outside of a $12.2 million flexibility reduction — a relief for system leaders after nearly $500 million in budget cuts from 2011 to 2013.
New pilot-training scholarships for 60 students at four of the state’s historically black colleges and universities will receive more than $300,000 from the state.
One contentious provision concerns the UNC system’s research centers — lawmakers asked system leaders to consider taking $15 million away from the institutes and direct it toward distinguished professorships and the system’s five-year strategic plan.
A report on specifics surrounding campuses’ research centers will be presented to the board during its September meeting, Poole said.
Board member W. G. “Champ” Mitchell said a concrete date needs to be set for making a decision on the potential research cuts.
“It is a hot button with people who appropriate our money, and we can’t let it drag,” he said.
Mitchell also expressed concern that $19 million in state money for the system’s need-based financial aid was taken out of lottery funds and moved to a non-recurring reserve. The non-recurring designation applies to one-time spending measures in the state budget.
“That to me is very troubling,” Mitchell said.
But Poole said the state support for students’ need-based awards would remain unaffected.