Erskine Bowles said that it's not premature to look into reductions.
The president of the University of North Carolina system responded to a recent letter from State Employees Association of N.C. head Dana Cope, which argued that it was illegal for the UNC system to consider steps to cut back its work force.
"While you suggest that 'there is no shortage of funds yet,' recall that the University has had to absorb more than $175 million in state budget cuts during the current fiscal year alone — and that personnel costs account for 75% of our campuses' state funding," Bowles wrote.
Bowles said that the UNC system has contacted Office of State Personnel head Linda Coleman, who agreed that "in these extraordinary times" it is "appropriate and prudent" for the university to take the steps.
Though the university is not yet short of money, Bowles said it is "wholly unrealistic" to think it won't be hit in the budget year starting June 1.
"Waiting would only increase the number of staff who would have to be laid off in order to absorb inevitable cuts," he writes.