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Thursday June 17th

Advisory Committee discusses growing University budget shortfalls

<p>UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz speaks during a virtual meeting of the Advisory Committee on Dec. 9, 2020.</p>
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UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz speaks during a virtual meeting of the Advisory Committee on Dec. 9, 2020.

UNC’s Advisory Committee met Wednesday to discuss the process of selection for a new secretary of the faculty candidate, plans for reopening in the spring and the University budget.

The Advisory Committee, led by Chairperson Suzanne Gulledge, voted on a motion to move forward with the current selection process of the secretary of the faculty, as outlined by the Faculty Code. The motion was passed with eight of the 10 present members voting in favor of moving forward. 

The secretary of the faculty is an important position held in terms of five years, whose responsibilities include conducting all elections of the General Faculty and the Faculty Council. 

What else is new? 

  • In discussing the spring semester, the committee proposed wider ranges of communication going forward to adapt to various community needs, such as restricted or lack of access to internet and language barriers. 
  • Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz updated he committee on plans for the spring semester. He said the University is preparing three to four times the number of available quarantine/isolation spaces for students this spring, and increasing testing capacities to up to 5,000 people a day. 
    • But the chancellor also expressed worries about off-campus communities and the potential for clusters.
      • “If there were to be more clusters developing in the off-campus living communities, then that could potentially be a challenge,” Guskiewicz said. “But because we have the testing program in place that is also required of off-campus students, our infectious disease experts have said we will be able to identity and shut down hopefully the possibility of those clusters developing.”
  • Mimi Chapman, chairperson of the faculty, expressed concerns over how the current selection process for secretary of faculty only puts forth one nomination by the committee. Chapman said she called for a larger meeting to discuss the nomination process, in order to include more voices from across the faculty.  
  • Members also shared concerns about the committee’s lack of transparency in the selection process for secretary, as well as concerns for increasing the committee’s pledge to diversity. Some members, including Gulledge, wanted to begin the process of election so that issues of transparency and diversity could be addressed.
    • “I think that transparency and diversity are the most important things we ought to consider, right at the top, and I’m anxious to do that,” Gulledge said.
  • Guskiewicz also asked the committee how to responsibly increase enrollment growth at the University while also increasing access to resources that make the UNC experience special. 
    • Members said that while they would like to see enrollment growth, it is important to consider the needs of the students already enrolled at UNC, and their access to resources, as well. 
  • The chancellor and the committee discussed three impacts to the budget: the structural deficit, shortages due to COVID-19 and budget cuts. 
    • The chancellor asked the committee to weigh in on strategic vertical budget cuts vs. horizontal cuts of three to five percent that would affect everyone across the board. Guskiewicz also mentioned the possibility of executive cuts or furloughs. 
    • Chapman proposed creating a set of principles to guide the budget cuts, citing Western Carolina University. Other members were in agreement. 
      • “I think there is enthusiasm for perhaps creating something similar that has input from faculty, staff, students, all affected constituencies, to say however you make the cuts — whether it’s across the board or its vertical — that they are done in line with a particular set of values and principles that everyone has kind of created together,” Chapman said.
  • In discussions about the budget, the chancellor asked the committee about new ways to fund UNC’s unique policy of need-blind admission while still keeping true to the need-blind commitment. 
    • Jay Aikat, a research associate professor of computer science, proposed focusing need-blind admissions to in-state students, and changing the need-blind process for out-of-state students. 

What’s next? 

  • The advisory committee will send out a call for nominations for the position of secretary of faculty on Dec. 14 to the general faculty. Candidates will be nominated and asked to submit a brief dossier for review. 
  • The chancellor will meet with deans and vice chancellors of leading units to discuss budget cuts next week. 
  • The committee will continue its monthly meetings on Jan. 21, 2021.

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