Students, Parents, Faculty and Staff
As many of you know, the State of North Carolina is currently facing a projected budget deficit of approximately $3.7 billion for the 2011-2012 Fiscal Year. The University of North Carolina's campuses initially planned for budget reductions of up to 10 percent in response to the state's financial crisis. We have now learned that we could potentially see our budgets cut by up to 15 percent. For ECSU, a 15% cut would reduce our current $38.3 million state appropriation by almost $6 million. Needless to say, these are challenging financial times for us all.
ECSU has already begun planning for the difficult and inevitable budget cuts that are coming. Our most important goal throughout this retrenchment process will be to protect the quality and effectiveness of our core academic and student programs. To that end, we will avoid the tendency to make uniform, "across - the - board" cuts that assume that every program functions at the same level of effectiveness. Instead, we will prioritize our reductions in order to minimize the negative impact on our core teaching and student-centered mission. Some important guiding principles for our process deserve mention.
- Core academic programs on our campus will be defined as courses, course sections and academic degree programs that are experiencing sufficient, on-going demand from our most important customers - our students. We will make every effort to continue funding these programs at their current levels and even strengthen our investment in these areas if possible. Not all academic programs, however, will be considered equal. Courses, course sections and academic degree programs that are showing a continuous trend of low enrollment will be thoroughly examined for possible consolidation or elimination.
- Protecting core academic programs is a meaningless effort without a student body. Thus, programs or services that bring promising students to our campus and keep them enrolled, such as financial aid, admissions and registration, will be considered core or high priority student services. We will make every effort to protect these services as well.
- ECSU provides a broad range of services that provide continuous general operating support to the institution. Examples of these institutional support services include economic development, long-range planning, fiscal management (e.g. accounting, human resources & payroll, budget preparation), institutional advancement, institutional research, facility and space management, etc. Services in this category vary in terms of the degree to which they impact our core academic mission. To ensure that our budget adequately supports our core mission, we will ensure that all of our institutional support services are operating as efficiently as possible. Reductions to institutional support, however, will not be random. We will produce sustainable savings through strategic efforts to streamline key business processes and consolidate redundant administrative operations.
- Approximately 80 percent of the ECSU general fund budget is comprised of salary and benefits costs. Thus, in order to make any meaningful progress toward reducing our budget by potentially up to 15 percent, significant cost reductions will have to come from personnel - both filled and unfilled positions. Whenever possible, however, our strategy will be to eliminate vacant rather than filled positions. In support of this strategy, all positions at ECSU, with a few critical exceptions, are currently frozen until further notice.
- Finally, for the 2011-2012 academic year, we have proposed the following tuition increases:
Resident undergraduate students: 6.5%
Non-resident undergraduates students: 2.1%
Resident graduate students: 6.5%
Non-resident graduate students: 4.1%
Raising tuition is never an easy decision; however, these adjustments are necessary to generate adequate funding to carry out our mission. We strongly believe in making education affordable and accessible for our students. Therefore, we reiterate our support for UNC General Administration's legislative priorities of enrollment growth and need- based financial aid funding. Furthermore, we note that ECSU remains one of the most affordable institutions in the UNC system.
All of us at ECSU - students, faculty, staff and senior administrators will be required to sacrifice as we continue our journey through this crisis. To date, we have identified 20 to 40 vacant positions that can potentially be eliminated. We are actively engaging the Faculty Senate, Staff Senate and SGA leadership team in examining and making necessary budget reductions. Over the coming weeks, we will do our best to align our reduction choices with the guiding principles outlined herein. If we continue to strategically manage our reduction efforts, I am confident that we will emerge as a streamlined yet vibrant institution.
Chancellor Willie J. Gilchrist
February 8, 2011