Before many of you leave for spring break, I want to take this opportunity to provide a brief review of where we’ve been this year and an update of what to expect when you return.
We’ve had an excellent academic year that has so far included a visit from the President of the United States, statewide and national recognition for our outstanding students, faculty and staff, and strong performances by Wolfpack athletics, among many other highlights.
On March 7, NC State turns 125, and for the next year we’ll celebrate the proud traditions and transformational nature of this great university. We’ll be marking this special year in many ways, including a campus-wide birthday party in early April. I hope you will take advantage of the many special opportunities over the year to have fun, learn and take great pride in being an important part of NC State.
The year, of course, is not without challenges. As we look to the future, we understand that funding will continue to be our biggest challenge. Over the last five years, NC State lost more than $125 million in state funding, which has threatened educational quality due to the resulting loss of faculty and staff positions, fewer seats in classes and a longer time to graduation.
In the face of these challenges, however, our community responded in traditional Wolfpack character: we’ve rolled up our sleeves and worked hard to ensure NC State continues to provide an excellent education to our students, strong service to our state and discovery that makes a difference in our world. We’ve streamlined business processes and increased efficiencies in order to protect our academic core and the student experience to the extent possible.
Two major parts of that response are the strategic realignment and the strategic plan, each launched nearly one year ago. Over the last year we’ve made good progress on both, adopting several improvements as task forces worked on additional implementation strategies. I encourage you to review the strategic plan one-page summary to help guide decisions and actions moving forward. After break, Provost Warwick Arden and Vice Chancellor for Finance and Business Charles Leffler will provide updates about realignment activities.
To help address state cuts, the UNC System Board of Governors recently approved a tuition and fee increase for each of its campuses. Given the reality of the state’s challenging financial situation, the board’s decision strikes a balance between addressing critical needs and affordability, and is crucial to ensuring NC State can continue providing the top-quality educational experience our students expect while remaining a very good value compared with peers.
These funds will be used at NC State to help offset budget cuts and improve the educational experience for our students by investing in faculty, expanded course offerings, academic support, student global engagement, need-based financial aid and graduate students.
A final note to our students going off for spring break: have fun, make good decisions, relax and get some sleep, but mostly—please be safe.
Have a great week, and I look forward to seeing all of you back here after break ready to take on the rest of the semester and kickoff our 125th anniversary year.