Campus Budget UpdateAugust 17, 2009
Dear Faculty and Staff:
Many of you know that the General Assembly has finalized the North Carolina budget for 2009-2011 after making tough decisions about new tax increases, spending cuts and reduced services. Earlier this month, Governor Perdue signed the new budget into law. Carolina is taking about a 7 percent cut following the Board of Governors action last week on the system budget.
Considering the state's still uncertain revenue picture and this budget's impact on other state agencies, legislators treated the UNC system very fairly overall. Governor Perdue has also understandably signaled her intention to conservatively manage the state's resources in the coming months. She has rescinded the emergency budget restrictions for state funds that have been in place since last month. But she also instructed the Office of State Budget and Management to withhold 5 percent of each state agency's monthly allotment starting next month. While this is another reduction for us to manage, we understand that the governor needs to proceed with caution in this environment.
Because of the steps we have taken since March, we won't seek any additional cuts from campus units to handle the 5 percent holdback. If revenues continue to decline, the governor may take additional steps that would require additional cuts in campus units. Nevertheless, we are hopeful that our current measures may, in fact, hold us for the fiscal year.
Keep in mind that we already enacted a total 10 percent permanent cut for state appropriations effective in July. We didn't want to wait for a final state budget to activate those plans, and this enabled us to accommodate what is effectively a 12 percent cut by getting started when we did. Our focus has remained on protecting core academic and teaching programs. By keeping cuts away from the classroom, we limited campus reductions to instructional units to just over 5 percent.
Overall, we have much to be grateful for in the new state budget.
- We expect to receive about $5 million from the UNC system's share allocated for enrollment growth, and another $2 million for need-based financial aid.
- General Administration will receive $2 million in permanent funding for faculty recruitment and retention. Historically, we have fared well when President Bowles distributes those funds.
- The University Cancer Research Fund, which supports basic interdisciplinary research across campus through the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and the School of Medicine, will receive the full $50 million installment originally committed to in 2007.
- A related longtime capital priority, the Biomedical Research Imaging Center, has been approved for construction. This is great news as UNC Health Care prepares to formally dedicate the North Carolina Cancer Hospital next month.
Our research centers and institutes, which have played such a vital role in fueling the success of the entire campus in attracting federal research grants, are being cut between 17 percent and 23 percent. That's still not as severe as we had feared earlier in the legislative session, and it's coming with some management flexibility. While I know this is a hardship for our faculty and staff engaged in the hard work of conducting research to help people, please understand how difficult a job our legislators had in balancing competing interests. We've made every effort to minimize the impact, as much as possible, on the campus-wide research enterprise. Moving forward, our focus should be on continuing to inspire the confidence of legislators in this important work so that it results in more, rather than less flexibility in making our own decisions about spending reductions.
Uncertainty about final tuition rates for the academic year has been a concern for our students. The General Assembly authorized the tuition increases for this year already approved by the UNC Board of Governors. However, legislators also signaled that campus-based tuition increases in 2010-2011 will be off the table. Our campus typically uses this revenue to support faculty compensation, graduate teaching assistant stipends, need-based financial aid to offset any tuition hikes, and other academic priorities.
The state budget and support of North Carolina taxpayers is very important to our overall operations, but it's roughly a quarter of the total budget. We've seen some recent bright spots. The faculty just set a new record for external research funding in 2009 (more than $716 million), and we are well positioned for continued success in attracting federal research dollars available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Our development office just recorded the second highest total of cash gifts ($271 million) in University history. Our alumni and friends are providing a remarkable level of private support for Carolina despite the economy. This is not to suggest that we still won't have difficult financial decisions to make and issues to grapple with in the coming months. We will. But we can't let the state's financial condition paralyze us from advancing the work of the University.
I want to thank those of you who have taken the time to watch and read about the final report from Bain & Company, the global consulting firm that has been helping the University look for ways to streamline operations and be more effective. [If you haven't seen it yet, check www.unc.edu for a link to the University's Budget Information Web page.] I appreciate the feedback many of you have shared about that report and encourage you to share comments about the Bain report or other budget issues at email@example.com.
Thank you for all that you do to make Carolina such a great place. I continue to be so appreciative of the commitment of our employees and faculty to Carolina and the spirit with which we have faced these challenges. With our students about to return for another academic year, I'm excited about what a new semester will bring for our campus community.