Under the Dome

UNC looks at new ways to distribute money to university campuses

UNC system leaders are embarking on a yearlong process to rethink the way they distribute state money among the 17 public campuses.

UNC President Margaret Spellings has launched a Funding Model Task Force to determine the best way to allocate dollars to the campuses, in order to match up with strategic goals of access, affordability, student success and efficiency. The group was named on Friday and its first meeting is scheduled in June.

The task force will be led by Scott Lampe, chief financial officer of Hendrick Motorsports. Lampe is an outgoing member of the UNC Board of Governors who led its budget and finance committee.

Other members are: UNC Board of Governors members Kellie Blue, Anna Nelson and Harry Smith; UNC Asheville trustee Kennon Briggs; N.C. State trustee Stan Kelly; N.C. A&T State Chancellor Harold Martin; UNC Wilmington Chancellor Zito Sartarelli; UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School Dean Doug Shackleford; UNC Health Care and School of Medicine Chief of Staff Andy Willis; and Lee Roberts, a director at SharpVue Capital. Spellings and UNC Board of Governors Chair Lou Bissette will serve as ex-oficio members.

The group has several members with financial expertise in state government, including Willis and Roberts, both former state budget directors, and Briggs, who served 11 years as chief financial officer of the state community college system.

The university receives about $2.8 billion from the state and it is allocated to the UNC schools through a formula known as “the 12-cell matrix” – and yes, it’s as complicated as it sounds. Influencing factors include enrollment and cost of providing education for different degrees; for example, an engineering degree is much more costly than an English major.

Over the years, some campus leaders have tried to make the case that the formula is not fair to their universities, so the rewrite effort is unlikely to make everyone happy.