NCCU cuts jobs ahead of state budget changes

Apr. 23, 2014 @ 03:39 PM

N.C. Central University will eliminate 55 positions in anticipation of expected budget cuts by the state General Assembly.
Chancellor Debra Saunders-White on Wednesday told the Board of Trustees that she’s eliminating 38 vacant positions and laying off 17 employed staff – primarily middle-management – as a proactive measure.
“We’re not being reactionary,” she said. “We need to realign and position ourselves strategically, while protecting our core academic mission.”
State legislators are expected to hand down new budget directives in the coming weeks. Right now, Saunders-White thinks NCCU will see a cut in state funding between 2 and 3 percent. The personnel reductions will trim about $5.6 million from the university’s expenses – more than she expects to be necessary.
The 17 people who lose their jobs will find out in the first week of May, the chancellor said. No academic faculty members are affected, she said.
She vowed to handle the cuts compassionately and said that the university will provide career training, job-search assistance and possibly even redeployment within NCCU.
Despite the impending cuts, Saunders-White noted that the university is still hiring for some positions.
“It’s not across-the-board or a complete freeze,” she said. “These are strategic cuts.”
Open forums are planned in which all members of the community will be invited to ask questions about the budget, she said.
Dwight Perry, chairman of the Board of Trustees, said the reductions are necessary in the current economic climate, but ultimately should benefit the university.
“It’s very positive,” he said. “It reflects the reality of where the state is now.”
The university’s total budget is about $202 million. Of that, $130.3 million comes from state funding, including $80 million in appropriation and $49.5 million in tuition and fees receipts.
Over the past decade, Saunders-White told the board, the university “has sustained more than $60 million in permanent and one-time budget reductions.”
Other schools in the UNC system have endured cuts in state funding. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as an example, avoided layoffs by raising tuition fees in tandem with climbing enrollment.
NCCU’s enrollment hasn’t been as robust, though, and many students use financial aid to attend, leaving the university with a larger deficit to mitigate.
The biennial reduction for fiscal year 2013-14 at NCCU totaled $3.7 million. The university used time-limited contracts for adjuncts and temporary positions to keep costs down last time.
NCCU will continue that approach, but the personnel cuts are critical to improving operations while making “strategic investments in academics and student services,” she said.
Saunders-White said that she’ll cut more than was required so that the university thrive as well as survive.
“We understand that the impact to members of the community makes this an extremely sensitive time for all of us,” she said. “As a community, we will exercise patience, understanding and compassion in the weeks and months to come.”

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