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UNC Board of Governors talk mental health grant, increased funding

NCSU Professor Bonnie Fusarelli gives her acceptance speech after receiving the Holshouser Award during the UNC Board of Governors meeting at the UNC System Office on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023.

The UNC Board of Governors recognized an honoree of a faculty service award and discussed enrollment challenges at its Thursday board meeting. 

In his report, UNC System President Peter Hans spoke about the mental health crisis and expanding initiatives to combat it.

The BOG also discussed no tuition increases for resident undergraduate students.   

What’s new?

  • The Governor James E. Holshouser, Jr. Award for Excellence in Public Service was given to N.C. State University professor Bonnie Fusarelli. 
    • In 2007, the BOG established the award to recognize faculty who are committed to public service. 
    • “Now in its 15th year, this award is our way of showing gratitude, appreciation and support for the gifts of our faculty,” BOG Chairperson Randall Ramsey said. 
    • Fusarelli is a university faculty scholar in the department of educational leadership, policy and human development. She’s also the executive director of N.C. State’s principal preparation program and the doctoral educational leadership program. 
    • “She continues to nurture and develop these programs, collaborating with the North Carolina General Assembly and local school systems to address the need for strong principal preparation programs and alternative licensing,” Vice-chairperson Wendy Floyd Murphy said. 
    • Fusarelli said that the best part of her job is getting the opportunity to watch teachers and principals develop their careers and skills. 
  • Universities in the System are seeing enrollment challenges along with a "demographic decline."
    • The BOG is requesting money for $16.8 million to fund voluntary retirement incentives for tenured faculty which will give priority to institutions that are impacted by enrollment challenges. 
    • “In these challenging times, we must continue to support, recruit and retain top talent,” Ramsey said. “We will request a total of $20 million to address the backlog and matching funds for endowed professorships.” 
    • The BOG is also asking the legislature for a recurring $10.5 million to invest in a program that will aid students to overcome financial challenges as they complete their degrees. 
    • This is a "modest assistance program" designed to help those who are on track to graduate but are at risk of dropping out because of financial stress, which delivers on the BOG’s commitment to graduate more students on time with less debt. 
    • The program will specifically be for historically minority-serving institutions and UNC-Asheville. 
  • The BOG is supporting state employee pay increases directed at faculty and staff who are dealing with high living costs due to inflation.  
    • It is also requesting the UNC System receive raises in proportion to those given to other state agencies. 
  • The UNC System has used COVID-19 recovery funding to offer mental health first-aid for faculty, staff and students across the state. 
    • While discussing the rise of anxiety and depression among young people due to technology usage, Hans said that there’s “no question it’s having a deep impact on our campus.” 
    • On top of the mental health first-aid, the UNC System has launched a telepsychiatry program on six of the UNC system campuses. 
    • “We've launched peer support groups funded on an around-the-clock emergency helpline, available to every student in the UNC system,” Hans said. 
    • Last week, Gov. Roy Cooper provided the UNC System with another $7.7 million in pandemic relief funds to expand mental health initiatives. 
    • “We're still at the early stages of this crisis and it's important that we try to assess as many different approaches to addressing it,” Hans said. 
  • For the seventh year in a row, the BOG is recommending no tuition increase for North Carolina resident undergraduate students. 
    • Several institutions have requested tuition increases in nonresident undergraduate programs, as well as graduate and professional school tuition. The undergraduate-out of-state tuition has been approved


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