Since the global economic crisis began in the fall of 2008, the campus community has been informed about the impact of state budget cuts.
During four consecutive years of state budget cuts, UNC campuses including Carolina have faced significant reductions in state funding, the impact of which has been felt in classrooms and libraries as well as throughout university operations. Carolina has taken approximately $235 million in total state cuts since 2008.
That total does not account for additional funding including tuition revenue or enrollment growth funding. Throughout the economic crisis, the University has made protecting core academic and teaching programs the priority. Until fiscal 2011-12, reductions were focused primarily on administrative cuts and measures to improve efficiency. However, the cumulative impact of repeated reductions in state funding has been felt acutely in the classroom.
Although state appropriations currently account for slightly less than 20 percent of Carolina’s total operating budget, it is critically important revenue that supports instruction and key academic operations. The academic core depends heavily on these state dollars.
By necessity, budgets passed by the General Assembly during the economic crisis were austere. As a result, Carolina – like every campus in the UNC system – has faced dramatic cuts threatening the ability to educate the next generation of leaders.
Since the downturn began, our top priority has been to protect the classroom experience of Carolina students as much as possible. Administrative departments have absorbed more cuts than academic units by design.
The University is committed to providing a high-quality education for students and maintaining national prominence as a top public research-intensive university. In 2011-12, the retention rate for first-year students was 97 percent, the four-year graduation rate was 80 percent and the six-year graduation rate was 90 percent. That record puts Carolina among the top public universities in the nation, despite budget cuts. If deeper budget cuts take hold, however, some of those accomplishments could deteriorate.
Carolina administrators recognize that our state’s universities are the key to North Carolina’s future economic growth and job creation, and they pledge to do everything possible to keep Carolina strong.
UNC-Chapel Hill works closely with the UNC President and General Administration on budget issues facing the North Carolina General Assembly. The University’s budget is part of the overall finances for the 17-campus UNC system.
Throughout the economic crisis, Carolina has been in better shape than many of its public and private university peers across the nation. Fiscal year 2011-12 is expected to be the most challenging year yet for higher education.
Carolina Counts was initiated by Chancellor Holden Thorp to carry out the key recommendations made in 2009 by the Bain & Co. business consulting firm and funded by the UNC-Chapel Hill Foundation. After taking a hard look at the campus operating structure, processes, staffing and expenses, the firm offered high-level ideas about how to make Carolina’s complex organization more efficient.
It plays a key role in the University’s budget strategy by serving as a resource to help make wise, informed decisions that lead to administrative cost efficiencies.
Since January 2010, Carolina Counts has engaged the units, schools and departments to delve into options for cost savings in the 10 areas identified in the consultant’s report. Working with campus leaders, Carolina Counts has explored and identified operational improvement initiatives and ways they could be implemented. As of January 2013, 111 of 165 initiatives have been completed, resulting in more than $54 million in reduced recurring annual state costs.