WCU Responds to State Budget Crunch

WCU was recently asked to submit a plan to the state for a potential budget reduction that reflected a seven percent cut in the budget for the years 2001-2003.

These cuts are only WCU’s response to the state’s request to formulate a budget cut plan; no cuts are definite at this point. The plans are still at sub-committee level in the legislature, stressed Chancellor John Bardo in his e-mail to the university community, telling of the cuts.

Some of the programs that were recommended to be eliminated under the potential budget cuts include the Highlands Biological Station, the Mountain Aquaculture Center, and the Mountain Heritage Center museum.

The biggest cuts were proposed in the university’s public service programs. About 95 percent of the $1.33 million budget that includes programs such as the Mountain Resource Center, Western North Carolina Tomorrow, Local Government Training, and Summer Ventures in Math and Science, could be cut.

The reductions could affect the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT) by possibly eliminating 300 teacher participants, asking teachers to pay their own substitute teacher and travel pay, and leaving no funds for repair or maintenance of the facility.

The cuts might also eliminate ten faculty positions, which would cause 70 classes to be canceled. This translates into 2,500 fewer seats, or 250 fewer full-time students allowed to enroll.

Two senior positions in Administration and Finance would be eliminated under the plan. All told, the plan cuts about $3.5 million from WCU’s total $53 million budget.

Bardo and the University of North Carolina System’s Office of the President are opposed to these potential cuts. According to Bardo, cutting WCU’s programs in such a manner would cause “irreparable damage” to the university.