Chancellor Linda P. Brady sent the follow message to faculty, staff and students last Friday:
To the UNCG Community:
As we begin a new fiscal year and the start of the 2011-12 academic year approaches, I would like to update you on the budget that will guide our upcoming year. I am sure you have read the news about the significant cuts across state government included in the 2011-12 state budget. The budget contains $414 million in net cuts to the UNC System. While we all had hoped that deep cuts to the university system could be avoided, our legislators faced significant challenges in developing a balanced budget in one of the most difficult economic times North Carolina has ever seen.
Although the UNC System budget cuts are considerably less than those found in earlier versions of the budget, they are significant and present many challenges. We at UNCG must contend with cuts of more than 15 percent for the 2011-12 fiscal year. After accounting for the elimination of funding for the UNCG iSchool program, the permanent net cut from UNCG’s state-appropriated budget is nearly $30 million. With these latest reductions, UNCG will have received more than $80 million in permanent and one-time budget cuts over a five-year period. The cumulative effect of these significant budget shortfalls will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact on our ability to carry out the teaching, research and service missions of our university. In addition, stipends for our graduate students and state funding for the UNC System’s Need-based Financial Aid Program will also decline this year and will have a significant impact on our student body, given that more than 70 percent of our students depend on financial aid.
While our Vice Chancellors, Deans and I pledge to do all we can to minimize the extent to which our undergraduate and graduate students experience negative consequences as a result of the budget cuts, our campus will be significantly impacted. Cuts of 15 percent will result in the loss of a substantial number of course sections and seats in courses during a critical time of increased student demand. To address this loss of sections and seats, the Provost and the Deans will allocate resources generated by the campus-based tuition increase approved earlier this year to meet, to the greatest extent possible, the academic needs of our students. The Provost has also worked with the Deans Council to identify and protect the sections most crucial to keep students on track for graduation. This spring we also approved a temporary course substitution policy for students whose graduation might be delayed due to canceled sections. These are all examples of our efforts to mitigate the impact of budget cuts on our students’ educational progress.
Although budget cut allocations from UNC General Administration have now been approved by the UNC Board of Governors, our internal budget reduction process will not be finalized until the end of this month. Over the next few weeks, the Provost, Vice Chancellors and I will be working with division leaders to revisit the preliminary reduction plans made this spring and then to implement budget cuts based on the university’s budget principles. In implementing previous permanent budget reductions, we have targeted cuts to administration in order to protect the academic core. However, the latest round of budget reductions will require cuts across the university, including Academic Affairs. These personnel actions will affect SPA, non-faculty EPA positions and non-tenure track faculty. Divisions will make any necessary reduction-in-force (RIF) notifications by August 1, 2011, and HR departments will inform the affected personnel about the severance benefits they are entitled to as RIFed employees.
We will make every effort to provide support to individuals whose positions are impacted by the budget reductions. To help reduce the number of filled positions we lose, divisions have already taken steps to hold vacant positions open rather than filling them. Questions related to SPA employees should be directed to the Department of Human Resource Services and those related to non-faculty EPA and non-tenure track faculty positions should be directed to the Office of the Provost. In addition, I have scheduled a meeting of the UNCG Budget Sounding Board for July 29 to review strategies and operational plans for dealing with the budget situation during the 2011-12 academic year.
We remain a student-centered university committed to access and student success. These additional budget cuts bring new challenges to our university, but we will continue to do everything we can to protect the academic core and ensure that our students receive a high-quality education. The new state budget continues to provide funding for graduate student tuition remissions, building repairs and renovations, and support for the UNCG/North Carolina A&T Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering. These positive signs of support from the legislature will help us continue to develop the educated workforce and high tech jobs essential for our state’s economic recovery.
In the past few months, I have facilitated discussions with faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends of the university. During these conversations, I have heard many stories about faculty, staff and students going above and beyond to do more with less. I have heard countless stories about members of the UNCG community going the extra mile to support a colleague or classmate in need. In the end, these stories have reaffirmed my belief that UNCG will continue to thrive during this tough time, as you all care deeply about UNCG and one another. Every member of the UNCG community believes that what we do matters – not only to each of you individually – but to the lives we change and to the communities we serve. Together, we will continue to adapt, evolve and remain a vital source of education, service and support for so many across this state and beyond long into the future.
We are a resilient, committed community, and each of you brings something important to what we do. I promise to keep you informed throughout the budget process through emails and updates to our budget central website. In the meantime, I encourage you to reach out to your colleagues who serve on the Faculty Senate, Staff Senate or Student Government Association and share your thoughts and suggestions for dealing with the difficult challenges we face. In addition, I personally value your feedback and thoughts, so do not hesitate to contact me directly by emailing email@example.com. Thank you for all that you do for UNCG.
Linda P. Brady