March 17, 2009
To the campus
Since it will be Thursday of next week before we gather for the next All
Campus Meeting on March 26, I am writing to provide the most up-to-date
information about our budget situation.
♦ Current Year Budget Cut: Shortly before spring break, we learned
that the 6% budget cut for the current year has been increased to 7%. This
means that, starting this month, UNC Asheville will receive only 93% of our
original budget. This places us in the position of reducing our budget an
additional 1% ($342,000) in this fiscal year. The good news is we believe
the stringent measures we have in place, combined with the excellent budget
stewardship being demonstrated by all campus budget managers, will allow us
to manage the remainder of the 2008-09 fiscal year without taking additional
♦ Priorities: In several previous updates to the campus, both written
and in person, I have emphasized our University and strategic priorities
when making these difficult decisions. The first is, and always will be, the
need to preserve the student educational experience. While cuts will have to
be made, we will not compromise the quality of education we provide to our
students. This priority is consistent with the most recent guidance from the
UNC Board of Governors, who have asked that “a sharp focus on mission and
academic integrity should drive each campus’ budget-cutting strategy.” The
second priority, which is closely related to the first, is to preserve the
jobs of those in ongoing positions, as they have the greatest influence on
the student educational experience. We believe that, with a few exceptions,
we will be able to keep this commitment for the current fiscal year.
♦ Next Year’s State Budget: However, with each passing day, we are
learning that the financial outlook for the next fiscal year is even
gloomier than anticipated just a month ago. This will be all too familiar to
anyone who has been reading or listening to the news. The Governor projects
a revenue shortfall in excess of $3 billion for the coming fiscal year.
Earlier projections ranged from $1.2 billion to $2 billion. We do not know
yet how this will impact UNC Asheville, but I will bring the newest possible
information to our next All Campus Meeting.
♦ Advocacy from UNC-GA: Just days ago, President Erskine Bowles
presented the University’s case to the Legislature, in an effort to limit
the effects of the budget cut on the State’s University system. He made a
case for future budget cuts that are small, flexible, and – most importantly
-- non-recurring. Each of our campuses has provided him with numerous
compelling examples of how the current cuts are affecting the education of
our students. We will not know for some time how the University will fare in
the next budget cycle, but I am confident that the University has a very
powerful advocate in President Bowles.
♦ Policy Update: As I mentioned in our most recent Budget Forum, we
have recently been asked by the Office of State Personnel to update our
campus policy on Reductions In Force (RIF), which outlines the
decision-making and procedures the University must take if any SPA employees
were to lose their jobs due to a Reduction in Force. Approximately 50 people
attended a review session of this policy and took the opportunity to ask
questions about this policy. You may have heard that other campuses and
State agencies are already implementing RIFs. If we are forced to consider
RIFs, we will follow the guidelines provided in this policy.
♦ Furloughs: Many of us have read in the news about possible
furloughs, which are temporary unpaid days off to meet temporary budget
restrictions. Although many states and organizations are using furloughs to
manage temporary budget cuts, this is currently not allowed under North
Carolina law, and neither the state nor the university system is considering
them at this time.
♦ “Vertical Cuts”: You may have read in the news that Governor Perdue
is strongly encouraging state agencies to consider "vertical cuts," or the
elimination of entire programs or departments. Similarly, President Bowles
and the Board of Governors are encouraging UNC campuses to consider whether
the various centers and institutes can be curtailed or eliminated in order
to focus University resources on its core academic mission. You may have
read in our local newspaper that the Arboretum is in President Bowles' list
of examples. Here at UNC Asheville, only one such decision has been made so
far: by July 1, 2009, the Leadership Asheville program will continue to be
hosted on our campus, but we will no longer serve as the guarantor – we will
continue to share support of the program with our many community partners
with a more limited role.
♦ Tuition: In February, the Board of Governors approved President
Bowles' revised proposal for campus-based tuition increases. Unless the N.C.
Legislature takes action contrary to this proposal later this spring, UNC
Asheville's tuition for 2009-10 will increase by $50/year, instead of the
$75/year we had originally requested. This translates into a $69,000
reduction in anticipated revenue for our campus. 40% of the campus-based
tuition revenues would be allocated to financial aid, and 60% would be
allocated to the highest priorities of the campus. Under the current
proposal, student fees would increase by $104.50/year.
The next All Campus Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 26, at 12:15
p.m. in Humanities Lecture Hall. At that time, I will have further updates
from the March meetings of both the UNC Asheville Board of Trustees and the
UNC Board of Governors, and will share those with you. It is also
anticipated that the Governor will have submitted her budget for the next
biennium later this week, so an update on that may also be possible at the
All Campus Meeting.
In the meantime, since so many have asked, “What can I do?” I will offer the
Friday, March 20, is
the next Admitted Students Day on campus. Take the opportunity to
welcome a family, encourage a prospective student, and show them what
you love about our University.
If you have questions
or concerns about specifics in your area, talk with your supervisor or
your vice chancellor.
If you have suggestions
or ideas about how to save money and do our work better, please send
those to John Pierce, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Operations.
You man consult the web
page we’ve developed for Budget Updates
http://www.unca.edu/news/budget.html. This site include the UNC
Board of Governors most recent guidance on budget decision-making, as
well as previous campus announcements on this topic that can provide
further context for this information,
Buffy Bagwell, Director
of Human Resources, and John Pierce, Vice Chancellor for Finance &
Operations are available to come to any department or staff meeting to
discuss the implications of the budget cuts on individuals and
Take heart that as we
communicate with each other and work together to bring our university
through this economic crisis, “our best defense is unity”.