To NC State Faculty and Staff:
About 500 people attended the recent Chancellor’s Forum. I appreciated hearing your many suggestions and questions related to strategic planning, some of which involved how the strategic planning process and budget process work together. As we continue to work through these processes, I wanted to ensure that everyone understands the situation. I also want to be clear that our ultimate goal is to move this university forward toward some long-range objectives and not just tread water in another bad budget year.
We actually have three ongoing activities:
- The budget process that we have during this time frame every year;
- The strategic planning process that will result in a plan that guides us for at least the next five to seven years;
- The organizational review that will shape our response to budget reductions.
Our typical budget process for the past few years has been focused on dealing with legislative cuts. Deans, directors, department heads and vice chancellors have led the effort to submit these budget revisions. Concurrent with those discussions are the ongoing discussions with General Administration regarding requests for funding from the state for next fiscal year (which begins July 1).
Our strategic plan process began in the fall. A steering committee and nine task forces made up of faculty, staff and students were appointed. We’ve held forums for input and information sharing, and we’ve posted information online, including the white papers submitted by the task forces.
The organizational review began last week in response to the charge from the state that we prepare for a budget reduction that could be as high as 15 percent.
By plan and necessity, these three conversations will work together to move us forward on the completion of our budget submission for next year and also inform us as to how we meet a future in which we have shrinking state support.
A Strategic Approach
This situation is not unique to NC State or to North Carolina. Across the nation, states and universities are grappling with the effects of a weak economy. And across the nation, many universities are refocusing their resources, consolidating and reorganizing.
The strategic plan process is central to our approach. Faculty, staff and students are working to deliver task force recommendations on everything from student success to campus climate. This broad input is vital, especially in a time of constrained resources.
There are two key dates to keep in mind. In late February, the draft strategic plan will be posted online for review. I hope you will read it and provide your comments. We will submit a final draft of the strategic plan to the Board of Trustees for approval at its April meeting.
On March 15, Provost Warwick Arden and Vice Chancellor Charles Leffler will submit the draft budget reduction/reorganization plan to me. The implementation of any organizational changes will, as appropriate, require additional engagement with the campus community and will likely take time to complete.
In short, we are engaging in an inclusive process to refocus our resources on our core mission with a goal of continuing to deliver quality and affordability. By taking this approach, we can, even in a weak economy, position NC State to enhance its reputation and better compete on the national stage.
We are all aware that we are not the only state and university going through this. The states and universities that best handle this process will be the ones that emerge with the greatest momentum as the economy recovers.
I know much is uncertain right now but very soon the picture will start to become much clearer. Gov. Perdue will give her State of the State address in mid-February, which will provide insights as to the direction of the budget discussions. At about the same time, we’ll have a first look at the strategic plan draft. As promised in my message to you on Jan. 18, I will keep you apprised of our progress on the strategic planning and budget processes. Meanwhile, I encourage you to continue to submit your questions, comments and suggestions through the strategic planning or budget news sites.
Thank you for all you do for NC State University.