Under the Dome

June 3, 2014

Ross says Senate budget an improvement from recent years

UNC President Tom Ross is hopeful the UNC system may come out better in the budget process this year.

UNC President Tom Ross is hopeful the UNC system may come out better in the budget process this year.

The Senate budget proposal is more generous than legislative budgets that have slashed the UNC system in recent years, he said. He added that he’s relieved to see the Senate drop a provision that could have led to the closure of Elizabeth City State University.

The Senate plan provides for more flexibility in salaries and other issues, he said. “We need that flexibility to be able to use other resources and to be able to do what we can to retain our best people, like any business would do,” Ross said Tuesday in a conversation with editors and reporters at The News & Observer.

Universities in other states are being aggressive about recruiting top UNC professors who are rainmakers in federal grants, Ross said.

Faculty would not see a raise in the Senate plan, but staff would. The lack of raises in recent years has strained the university’s ability to keep its best workers, Ross said. For example, N.C. State University has lost nearly 50 information technology workers in the past year or so, he said, and campus police officers can go to municipalities and get large raises.

“It’s a real dilemma for us right now and if we don’t begin to address it going forward, it’s going to really begin to affect quality,” he said.

Ross said leaders have tried to avoid hurting the classroom with cuts in previous years. The university system is producing more degrees while cost per degree has declined by 17 percent, he said.

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