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Senate Hears Budget Wishes, Woes

Colleges and units across campus continue to struggle with financial constraints as university officials lobby state officials for budget reforms.

Chancellor Randy Woodson told the Faculty Senate that he and other higher education leaders are working hard to secure raises for employees this year. But, he cautioned, there’s no guarantee state lawmakers will go along.

“The highest priority for the UNC Board of Governors and for the chancellors is to get the flexibility to give salary increases this year,” he said at Tuesday’s meeting in the D.H. Hill Library.

Even if universities get the green light to offer salary increases, they would still have to find the money — most likely by trimming their budgets elsewhere, he said.

“We’ve been forewarned that [salary increases] would likely come at the expense of our budget,” he said. “So be it.”

Woodson said university leaders were also fighting for the right to carry forward budget savings from one year to the next.

“We’re one of the few university systems in the nation that doesn’t have the ability to carry forward our budget from year to year, so it really creates a disincentive to be efficient and effective because you’re not able to take the money you saved and reinvest it in critical areas for the future,” he explained.

Woodson said budget constraints could delay the hiring of new faculty in the Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program, a widely praised initiative that has created interdisciplinary teams of researchers to address some of the grand challenges facing the nation.

Forest Resolution Fails

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the Faculty Senate signaled that it has no interest in taking sides in a dispute over the sale of Hofmann Forest to a private company. Senators rejected a resolution condemning the sale of the 79,000-acre forest, with just two senators voting in favor, nine opposing and 15 abstaining.

Under the terms of an agreement approved last October, the Board of Trustees of the Endowment Fund is selling the forest in Jones and Onslow counties to a company headed by an Illinois farmer for $150 million. Proceeds from  the sale will be invested to benefit students and programs in the College of Natural Resources. A Wake County Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging the sale in November. Opponents have appealed.

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