Gov. Bev Perdue's proposed budget would mandate cuts far larger than what UNC system officials say they can handle.
Perdue calls for a 4 percent cut on top of the 2 percent reduction already included in the two-year budget adopted last year.
That could result in the elimination of 1,200 positions across the UNC system, half from faculty ranks, UNC President Erskine Bowles said Tuesday in a written statement. The result would be bigger classes, fewer course offerings and the elimination of administrators critical to academic and financial integrity, Bowles said.
Last year, 935 positions were cut as the university cut $163 million in spending.
"We were hoping for a smaller cut because we feel we've given more than our share," said Hannah Gage, chairwoman of the UNC system's Board of Governors.
Campuses will have to weigh the value of non-tenure track instructors, many of whom teach introductory courses that serve large numbers of students, said Judith Wegner, chairwoman of the UNC system's faculty assembly.
"If the campuses end up reducing those positions, the students will really be feeling it," said Wegner, a law professor at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Perdue's proposal would pay for enrollment growth and need-based financial aid, two of the UNC system's priorities.
Perdue's budget includes $33 million in cuts spread across the state's community colleges. It includes an additional $85 million to pay for a 17 percent increase in enrollment in the colleges.
The proposed 3.5 percent cut, though, would reach into classrooms, said Scott Ralls, head of the N.C. Community College System.
Staff writers Eric Ferreri and Benjamin Niolet