McCrory calls on UNC system to run more efficiently

Apr. 11, 2013 @ 07:07 PM

Hitting on themes he established while campaigning last year and during his first few months in office, Gov. Pat McCrory office told the UNC Board of Governors Thursday that universities must continue to look for ways to operate more efficiently.

McCrory made his remarks on the campus of UNC Pembroke, where the board was holding its April meeting in celebration of the school’s 125th anniversary.

He said the university system, just as state government, must make adjustments that will enable it to compete effectively in a very competitive environment.

“We’re looking to change things the way they are working right now because we have to, we have no choice,” McCrory said. “The competition is very tough,”

Although North Carolina is proud of its university system, K-12 education and community colleges, McCrory said, improvements must be made and efficiencies achieved because “there’s no new money that’s going to fall out from the sky at this point in time that I’m aware of.”

He noted what he called the tough decisions he’s had to make since taking office, including the decision to not expand Medicaid and the one to decrease unemployment benefits.

McCrory’s budget proposal also called for cutting state appropriations to the UNC system by $138.5 million – a 5.4 percent reduction from the current year.

While campaigning, McCrory said he learned that state education entities operate in four silos with the university system, pre-K, K-12 and community colleges all lobbying government separately and without common purpose.

He said that needs to change.

“What I’d like to do in the future is have all four of those silos actually meet together on an education budget for the state where they can be able to identify what is the ultimate outcome, where there is overlap, where the is clear identification of responsibility and what is our process,” McCrory said.

McCrory also dispelled reports that the Republican-led General Assembly was considering closing one of the 16 universities that makeup the UNC system.

He did say schools must continue to work on ways to share resources and reduce administrative cost so more money can be directed to students.

McCrory praised UNC system President Tom Ross for leading the effort to adopt a new five-year strategic plan, part of which seeks a 32 percent increase in degree attainment for the state.

Turning from fiscal concerns, McCrory told the board he is very concerned about drug addiction and mental health issues on campuses.

He said its time to expose the problem.

“There’s a serious drug and abuse of alcohol problems on your college campuses right now,” McCrory said. “There’s binge drinking. There’s a serious cocaine problem. There’s a serious heroin problem on every one of your campuses. You go ask the any student and you go ask sheriffs in any county.”

He said the drug problem is devastating communities, families and the state’s budget.

“I’m just telling you as the Board of Governors and chancellors that we’re not going to hide it anymore,” McCrory said. “We’ve got to let it be known that there is a serious addiction issue that’s kind of being swept under the rug.”

Peter Hans, chairman of the UNC Board of Governors, pledged to support efforts to address the problem.

“It’s a tough fight,” Hans said. “We will respond to your direction on this.”