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Wednesday February 24th

UNC to cut operational and personnel budgets, Guskiewicz says

UNC chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz speaks during a joint virtual meeting of the Faculty Council and Employee Forum meeting on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021.
Buy Photos UNC chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz speaks during a joint virtual meeting of the Faculty Council and Employee Forum meeting on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021.

At a joint Faculty Council and Employee Forum meeting Friday afternoon, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz announced there will be cuts to UNC’s operating and personnel funds until further notice. 

There will be a 7.5 percent cut to operating funds, and a 1.5 percent cut to personnel staff funds. This will help the University eliminate the $100 million structural deficit the University is currently facing by the end of the 2021-22 fiscal year, Guskiewicz said. 

“These budget measures that we’re putting in place are consistent with those that we had put in place at the beginning of the pandemic,” Guskiewicz said. “We will continue those measures — those COVID measures — until further notice.” 

What Happened?

  • In an effort to deal with the long-term effects of the pandemic, Karin Pfennig, chairperson for the Committee on Appointments, Promotions and Tenure, said the committee is considering allowing professors to add COVID-19 impact statements to their tenure dossiers. This is essentially a professor’s application package to apply for tenure status, Pfennig said.  
  • Those applying for tenure and promotion can also send reviewers external letters that detail the impact COVID-19 has had on them. 
  • After Faculty Council Chairperson Mimi Chapman and Pfennig's remarks, the meeting proceeded as a joint session with members of the Employee Forum, led by Chairperson Shayna Hill. 
  • Hill introduced the joint meeting by reading a statement looking back on the fall semester and expressing goals for the spring term. 
    • “The latest combined efforts between the Faculty Council and Employee Forum demonstrates our efforts toward creating such a brotherhood of advocacy,” Hill said. “I embrace our partnership as we face more uncertainty in the face of COVID.”
  • Chapman read a statement that reflected on the domestic terror attack at the Capitol building on Jan. 6 and coronavirus vaccine distribution across the nation.
    • “I wish I could wish you a Happy New Year and mean it,” Chapman said. “Of course, we are not the first humans in history to wonder if wars would be won, if our families would escape violence, whether attitudes and policies would change and whether plagues will end.”
  • Guskiewicz began his portion of the meeting by voicing his opposition toward the attack that took place on the Capitol building last week. 
    • “It is unacceptable and threatens the very ideals of our country,” Guskiewicz said. “It was an attack on our democracy and the peaceful transfer of power that really defines our nation.”
  • He said he will introduce changes to the University’s budget, including cuts to operating funds by 7.5 percent and personnel funds by 1.5 percent. This will help UNC get rid of its current $100 million deficit by June of 2022. 
    • “This will also help us better prepare for the still unknown pandemic impacts,” Guskiewicz said. 
  • Guskiewicz said UNC is advocating for frontline and essential workers on campus to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. It was clarified later in the meeting that an essential worker would need to be someone who works full-time and in-person at a face-to-face job. 
  • Guskiewicz said examples of an essential worker on campus would be police officers, transit workers, housekeepers and maintenance staff. 
  • Provost Bob Blouin thanked those who helped organize the Carolina Together Testing Program. He said it was a team effort by more than 1,000 people. 
  • Blouin said UNC is currently testing about 1,000 individuals every day at testing sites, and will be able to increase to several thousand tests per day in the future. 
    • As recently as seven weeks ago, we had nothing,” Blouin said. “We had no lab space dedicated, no equipment.” 
  • UNC has performed more than 2,500 COVID-19 tests to date, Blouin said, and has calculated a 0.5 percent positivity rate. 
    • “We certainly know that number is going to change over time, but it is a testament to how students, both on and off-campus, for taking care of themselves during the break and coming back to campus in good shape,” Blouin said. 
  • Catherine Brennan, executive director of Environment, Health and Safety, said changes made to North Carolina’s vaccine distribution schedule could mean essential and frontline workers might not be able to get the COVID-19 vaccination for a while. 
    • “We’re anticipating that frontline, essential workers will not be able to be vaccinated for some time because with the changes to the 65 years and older, that’s quite a larger group.” Brennan said. “We are working to define who those frontline workers are and we will designate those people.”

What’s Next?

  • The Faculty Council will hold its next virtual meeting on Feb. 19 at 3 p.m. 

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