North Carolina’s top university leader said proposed cuts in state funding for higher education could slow efforts to increase the number of residents with a college degree. UNC system President Tom Ross told a capacity crowd at the spring general faculty meeting on Tuesday that he would continue to educate members of the Republican-controlled General Assembly about the role of the system in driving economic development.
But, he admitted, it’s a tough sell.
“Some people have a mentality about research that a lot of it just gets put in a book that goes on a shelf,” Ross said. “I show them examples of research that has led directly to a product or business.”
Ross and other university leaders, including NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson, spent Wednesday morning on Jones Street, meeting with state representatives. Much of discussion centered around Gov. Pat McCrory’s proposed two-year state budget, which would reduce state support for the university system by about $138 million.
Woodson, speaking at the faculty meeting in the Talley Student Center on Tuesday, said he was concerned by a proposed 12.3 percent hike in nonresident tuition. The cost of the increase would fall largely on the university since most of NC State’s out-of-state students are graduate students who receive tuition support from the university.
“That’s a serious hit for us,” Woodson said. “At the end of the day it’s a budget cut for NC State.”
Ross laid out the details of the system’s new strategic plan, which hopes to drive an increase in the number of Carolinians with a college degree from 26 percent to 32 percent over five years.
“To meet that goal we need the resources,” he said.