Campus Budget UpdateFebruary 25, 2010
Dear Faculty, Staff and Students:
It's been awhile since you've heard from me on the topic of the budget, so I wanted to share what we know so far as we plan for next fiscal year.
Clearly North Carolina is not out from under the economic downturn. Legislative leaders expect at least a $500 million gap in the state budget for next year. We'll know more in April when the impact of income tax payments on the state revenue picture becomes clearer as the General Assembly prepares for the short session in May. But we are preparing for the likelihood of more cuts in our state appropriations on top of the total 10 percent reduction we took as a campus last year.
In the meantime, I wanted you to know where we are in the University's budget planning cycle. Interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bruce Carney is leading the deliberations of our Budget Committee during the annual hearings in which the vice chancellors and deans present their proposals. Starting last December, those administrators were asked to develop proposals that assumed new cuts at the 5 percent level as well as continued declines in funding from endowment earnings. Those budget hearings are not yet complete, but it's clear already that the vice chancellors and deans are responding thoughtfully in making plans for more possible difficult decisions about people, programs and operations. The provost's directions specifically asked units to pay close attention to senior management positions in considering proposed reductions. Once the hearings are over, the committee will refine our plans for next year and take into account the potential need for cuts of more than 5 percent. That process will continue over the next several weeks. (Refer to the "Recent Budget Communications" section of the Carolina Budget Information Web site to see the directions the vice chancellors and deans received in late December.)
We hope to continue protecting our teaching mission and keep offering the same number of courses we have this year. Our academic units took a lower cut last year than our support and administrative units to support that principle. We have also asked the vice chancellors and deans to show how they are already drawing from ideas generated by the final Bain & Company report in their budget plans. That's an important consideration now even as the work of the Carolina Counts initiative continues in charting our course to make major long-term improvements to how we manage and operate the University. (To learn more about Carolina Counts, see the new Web site, http://carolinacounts.unc.edu/)
We're already becoming a more efficient campus. We've begun reducing duplication of finance, IT and human resources in some research centers and institutes. Our information technology division is partnering with NC State on central software for human resources and finance as part of ConnectCarolina. That campus-wide initiative continues to make progress in changing student information systems. Beginning April 1, the Health Sciences Library and the University Libraries will be combined under University Librarian Sarah Michalak. The change will help our overall library operations better support the University's teaching, research and public service missions. These are just a few examples.
I am reminded every day how much everyone pulls together to make this University successful, even when faced with budget adversity. It's been true since the economic downturn began, and I'm confident that will remain the case in the coming weeks and months.