The Budget and Finance Committee discussed strategies to reduce uneven graduation rates systemwide, specifically an allocated $18 million in the 2016-17 operating budget to close the achievement gap on campuses.
The money was set aside to include improved first-year course enhancements, tutoring, advising and merit-based financial interventions.
But board members like Champ Mitchell questioned the arbitrary decision to devote exactly $18 million.
“There’s nothing in here I’m not in favor of, but there’s a lot of data we’re not using,” Mitchell said.
Connect NC Bond
The UNC system is also expecting to receive new funds as a part of the Connect NC Bond — approved in the March 15 primaries.
Will Johnson, associate vice president for finance and capital planning for the budget and finance staff, updated the board’s finance committee on progress. The bond contains 21 capital improvement projects within the UNC system — 14 that are new and seven that are renovations.
The projected cost is nearly $1.1 billion. Johnson said UNC institutions are already making preparations to begin work as soon as the first portion of bond proceeds become available July 1.
NCCU Student Center
But not all projects have received funding, like the request for a new student center at N.C. Central University — which is projected to cost more than $36 million.
The project aims to attract more students to the university, which has recently seen drops in enrollment. Since 2010, the school has had a 5.7 percent decrease in incoming students.
NCCU Chancellor Debra Saunders-White said university officials have spent a lot of time on the data, and they are trying to improve the overall environment of the campus to attract new students.
The UNC system hired First Tryon Advisors, a financial advisory group, to assemble a 372-page report on the debt affordability of each system constituent. The study results show the amount of debt each campus is able to take on through 2020.
Though NCCU and others are listed as having low debt capacity in the study’s results, it doesn’t mean they have no capacity to take on debt. Michael Juby, director of the First Tyron Advisors team, clarified this point to the board.