Since the beginning of October, there have been many rumblings about budget challenges at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG). In order to work through these challenges, administrators will be conducting an Academic Portfolio Review in the Spring to assess the need and value of all academic programs at the university.
This article is a quick snapshot of what is going on at the university, how faculty and students are responding, and how you can get involved.
So what is going on at UNCG? What are these budget challenges?
During Chancellor Frank Gilliam Jr.’s State of the Campus address on October 3rd, he announced that UNCG is struggling financially and will be undergoing some changes to work through this ordeal.
According to the Chancellor’s presentation, there are multiple factors that contribute to the university’s financial distress.
Over the past five years, the university’s enrollment has been steadily declining. For this current semester, the total enrollment at UNCG is 17,743. This number is down 11.7% from 20, 106 in 2018 (which is the last year before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S) and slightly down from last fall’s enrollment at 17, 978.
The Chancellor argues that part of the reason there is a decline in enrollment is because of population changes.
According to Chancellor Gilliam’s presentation, there are less high school graduates seeking a college education and this is not just a UNCG-specific issue. “If you can make $20 an hour at the Amazon warehouse and you’re 18 years old, that looks pretty good as opposed to taking on debt and going to college,” Gilliam said.
In addition to decline in enrollment and population changes, Chancellor Gilliam pointed to the larger problem at hand: the changes to funding from the state. This greatly impacts the university.
At the end of 2022, the UNC System Board of Governors approved a “performance-based funding model” for its universities. A formula has been created to determine how much state funding a university will receive based on their ability to meet certain goals. According to UNC System officials, the purpose of this model is to incentivize universities in getting in-state students to graduate on time with less debt. To read more about this, click here.
How will the university work through this financial distress?
University administrators plan to conduct an Academic Portfolio Review in the spring of 2024. This review will evaluate the “success” of each academic program at UNCG.
Earlier this year, a portfolio review taskforce was formed. This taskforce will decide on a list of metrics to use in assessing academic programs and make final decisions in identifying what programs to potentially eliminate.
So, how did faculty respond when they heard about UNCG’s financial woes?
In order to achieve more clarity about what was going on financially at the university, faculty took matters into their own hands. The UNCG’s Association of University Professors’ Chapter (UNCG AAUP) decided to hire a consultant to do a financial analysis.
On October 5th, Howard Bunsis, a professor of accounting at Eastern Michigan University, gave a thorough virtual presentation on UNCG’s current financial status. His major conclusions: UNCG is in solid financial condition, and the university spends too much money on athletics and institutional support. To learn more about Bunsis’ report, read these articles by NC Newsline, Triad City Beat, and Yes Weekly.
How are students responding to everything going on at UNCG?
They are protesting.
On Wednesday, October 18th, a large crowd of students met outside a faculty meeting and on Thursday, October 19th, roughly 250 people gathered outside the UNCG administration building. During these demonstrations, students have chanted in opposition to the potential elimination of some academic programs, and the possible increase of tuition and fees for graduate students.
Want to get involved and support the efforts of UNCG AAUP and current students?
Here is how to.
- Sign and share this public petition that is calling for the “immediate suspension or discontinuation” of UNCG’s academic portfolio review process.
- Attend the UNCG Association of Retired Faculty and UNCG graduate students’ teach-in on Thursday, October 26 at 12pm to 2pm in the Alumni House on campus