The Details of the Budget Cuts

August 13, 2009
By Cherry Crayton

On its Budget Central Web site, NC State has posted a memo and a 15-page document from Chancellor Jim Woodward that summarizes — in very specific details — how the 10-percent budget reductions, which total about $53 million, will impact campus. Some examples:

  • These reductions result in the elimination of nearly 300 class sections and 9,750 seats as well as 440 FTE faculty and staff positions, of which 176 are currently filled.
  • This reduction will require cancellation of 1,000 journal subscription (a 20% decline), loss of online access to an additional 750 journals, cancellation of 17 electronic databases, and the purchase of 15,000 fewer books than last year (a 50% decline).
  • Overall, the University has eliminated 7 academic advising positions and 15 tutors.
  • In addition to five programs eliminated in early 2009 (MS in Agricultural and Resource Economics, BA in Health Occupations Education, and three bachelor’s degrees in special education),  Agriculture and Life Sciences will delay implementation of the new genetics program and Textiles will delay development of four graduate courses in medical textiles needed to support one of the University’s strategic focus areas.

In the memo, Chancellor Woodward writes:

Without question, the impact of these reductions is significant. We allocated smaller reductions to academic units, yet we are still losing enough teaching positions that our instructional capacity will drop by about 3 percent. Low- enrollment programs are being eliminated, and new programs are being put on hold. We have protected General Education to a very large degree, but students’ opportunities to participate in academic enrichment and co-curricular programs — such as study abroad, leadership programs, service learning, and research — will diminish, thereby lessening their collegiate experience.

I am also concerned about the erosion in core faculty expertise. Many departments are giving up faculty positions, vacated by retirements or departures, that once contributed specialized knowledge to undergraduate and graduate students, an interdisciplinary research program, and/or a team of faculty and students engaged in an economic development project. As faculty reduce their research and extension activities to cover the classroom, we will be less able to leverage the state’s investment to increase the external support for research that ultimately enhances social and economic well-being for all of North Carolina.

In preparing these budget reductions, we were careful to respect our University Budget Principles and strategic plan, and the voices of our students, faculty, and staff. Our primary strategies were to avoid formulaic, across-the board cuts and to look first for efficiencies and last for reductions in service.

Our priorities were to protect undergraduate general education and to minimize the impact on our core mission. For example, although the mandated reduction was 10 percent, the reductions allocated to our colleges ranged from 3.36 percent to 8.55 percent. Beyond that, we gave priority to programs aligned with NC State’s strategic plan.

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