University budget cuts will vary significantly across the UNC system, ranging from 8 percent at the School of Science and Mathematics in Durham to nearly 18 percent, or more than $100 million, at the state's historic flagship, UNC-Chapel Hill.
N.C. State University will take a 15 percent reduction, while N.C. Central University will see a 14 percent cut.
The UNC Board of Governors' budget and finance committee acted this morning to allocate $414 million in cuts for the current fiscal year enacted by the legislature. The budget law ordered that the reductions not be made across the board, a method that could have resulted in a 15.6 percent reduction for each campus.
The system instead used six criteria to determine how to dole out the cuts, taking into account differences among the campuses.
Those criteria included performance factors, such as student retention and graduates produced, plus financial factors such as tuition, percentage of low-income students and the availability of other sources of revenue on a given campus. Also, campuses with fewer than 6,000 students received special consideration because they aren't large enough to operate with economies of scale.
Those were factors the UNC leaders thought were important in tough economic times, said UNC President Tom Ross.
Ross said he was proud of the unity among chancellors who lead the individual campuses. He said budget turmoil across U.S. public higher education had led to infighting and fragmentation in other state systems.
"I'll tell you they're not all happy about this but they all understand it and they're all supportive of it because they support the system," Ross said. "I think it's going to be hard to cut the amount of money that they're being asked to cut on every campus but they're going to do it wisely and well, I'm sure, and they understand the reason for the allocations."
He said campus layoffs were under way now and many had occurred earlier in the year to prepare for the certainty of cuts.
Everything will be on the table as chancellors deal with the reductions, except an additional tuition increase. Some chancellors had said another hike was necessary.
Tuition has increased an average of 39 percent in the last three years across the system. Increases had already been enacted in February for the coming academic year and financial aid packages had been set accordingly. So another increase would have been disruptive and unfair to parents and students, Ross said. There is also less financial aid available for a larger pool of students.
"We just felt it was more important to figure out how to get through this without another tuition increase right now," he said.
Despite the display of unity, the large percentage cut in state funding will be a blow to the Chapel Hill campus. However, UNC-CH has more private fundraising capacity than other campuses and pulls in a large amount of federal research money each year.
Charles Mercer, chairman of the budget and finance committee and a UNC alumnus, said the campus would do its best with the cards it is dealt.
"It is unfortunate that Chapel Hill will have to work within these parameters, which includes these significant budget cuts," he said. "But Chapel Hill has exceptional leadership and they will be able to respond to this challenge. The history of that university is about responding to challenges successfully and meeting those challenges both for its students and the people of North Carolina."