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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC Libraries to reduce collection as it faces major budget cuts, librarian says

Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz applauds during Hubert Davis's introductory press conference on Tuesday, April 6, 2021.

University Libraries faces a drastic budget cut, with $2 million cut this fiscal year and $3 million cut next fiscal year, University Librarian Elaine Westbrooks said at a meeting of the UNC Faculty Council on Friday.

The council also discussed the search for a new provost, an increased demand for mental health services and changes to the NCAA’s name, image and likeness rule.

What’s new?

  • To begin the meeting, Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer Leah Cox said the Office for Diversity and Inclusion plans to provide education training across the University in an effort to embrace diversity, equity and inclusion at UNC.
    • “It will enrich ourselves and our students as we engage in this pursuit of higher education,” Cox said. 
    • Cox said she is hoping to build her staff and develop multiple training programs during her time at the University.
  • Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz provided budget updates, noted an increased need for mental health services and talked about the search for a new provost as Bob Blouin prepares to step down at the end of the calendar year.
    • Guskiewicz said the N.C. House and Senate reached a budget agreement on Wednesday and would share it with Gov. Roy Cooper. Guskiewicz said he believes the budget will be strong for UNC-Chapel Hill.
    • During the Faculty Executive Committee meeting on Sept. 13, Dean of Students Desirée Rieckenberg said there has been an increase in students referring to University services for mental health care compared to last fall.
      • On Friday, Guskiewicz said he had two meetings with therapists at UNC’s Counseling and Psychological Services, which has experienced nearly double the number of appointments this year.
      • “We have to be sure that we are providing every opportunity for our students to have these services,” Guskiewicz said. “This is the first time in quite a while that there are waiting lists. We’re trying to find additional help that will be critical in moving us forward.” 
    • The applicants for the new provost have been narrowed down from 60 to six finalists, Guskiewicz said. He said the goal is to name a new provost by the second week of November. 
  • Deb Aikat, an associate professor in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media, said that, for about three years now, UNC faculty have been told the University is waiting for the state to approve the budget before they can receive any monetary raises. 
    • “In the last few years, we haven’t had any raises," Aikat said. "And for the last 16 to 18 months, our faculty and staff have worked very hard, but I think we are at a time where our faculty and staff are looking for some kind of appreciation in terms of raises.”
    • Guskiewicz said there is a need for a recurring funding source and a balanced budget in order to provide salary increases.
  • Dr. Amir Barzin, medical director at UNC Health Virtual Care Services, gave updates regarding COVID-19 statistics for the week of Sept. 27.
    • Barzin said out of 2,475 test results from the week, 10 were positive, resulting in a 0.4 percent positivity rate. He said he is not expecting a huge surge of COVID-19 cases from Fall Break, which is Oct. 21-22. 
  • Westbrooks, vice provost of University Libraries and University librarian, said University Libraries is facing drastic budget cuts. 
    • University Libraries will reduce the purchase of books and multimedia items and will cancel subscription journals, packages and databases, Westbrooks said.
    • Blouin said the business model for University Libraries needs to be completely reevaluated. 
  • Finally, the Department of Athletics discussed how the recent change in the NCAA’s name, image and likeness rule will affect the University and its athletes.
    • Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham said the goal is to focus on service and education for athletes regarding sponsorships and compensation.
    • Chris Gray, a graduate student on the UNC men’s lacrosse team, said there is value to athlete sponsorships from hometown brands, which often gives players a sense of giving back to their community. 

What's next?

The Faculty Council will meet again on Nov. 5.


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