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Cost Cutting Measures Announced

By D'Lyn Ford

Two budget-cutting moves announced this week will affect NC State employees: furloughs for state workers and the university's plan for a permanent 5 percent budget reduction.

On Tuesday, in response to state budget shortfalls, Gov. Bev Perdue ordered a "flexible furlough plan" for all state workers, including higher education employees. In May and June, all state employees will see a reduction of half a percent of their annual salary. For example, an employee making $30,000 would see a decrease of $75 in May and $75 in June for a total of $150. In return, state employees will be given 10 hours of flexible time off, which they may take any time between June 1 and Dec. 31.

April paychecks are in the works and will not reflect any changes, said Terree Kuiper, senior director for human resources.

Meanwhile, NC State released details of a permanent 5 percent budget reduction plan to cut $25.8 million in spending for 2009-10. The plan, spelled out in an April 23 document, breaks out reductions in three major university budgets: academic affairs, Agricultural Research Service and Cooperative Extension Service.

Job Losses

A total of 317 positions, 148 of which are vacant, will be eliminated. They include 99 faculty jobs, 94 EPA non-faculty jobs and 124 SPA jobs.

Academic Affairs

  • 49 faculty jobs (41 vacant)
  • 61 EPA non-faculty jobs (19 vacant)
  • 108 SPA jobs (71 vacant)

Jobs eliminated: 218

Agricultural Research Service

  • No faculty jobs
  • 25 EPA non-faculty jobs (9 vacant)
  • 16 SPA jobs (1 vacant)

Jobs eliminated: 41

Cooperative Extension Service

Most of the job cuts will come under a special federal retirement incentive.

  • 50 faculty jobs (none vacant)
  • 8 EPA non-faculty jobs (7 vacant)
  • No SPA jobs

Jobs eliminated: 58

Overall, academic colleges received a 2.7 percent reduction, compared with 7.3 percent for administrative units in the provost's office and 6.7 percent in other administrative units. The library budget was reduced by 3.7 percent and utilities by 1.7 percent. Because of other budget issues, the colleges of Humanities and Social Sciences, Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Veterinary Medicine will make additional cuts not reflected in the totals for the 5 percent reduction, he said.

Cuts reflect the university's priority of protecting undergraduate academic programs, said Dr. Larry Nielsen, provost and executive vice chancellor. "We directed the cuts away from core teaching responsibilities. A good example is that we're cutting less than 1 percent of the seats in classes."

A total of 1,965 class seats or 5,895 credit hours were eliminated with the cuts. That represents 0.8 percent of the university's 750,000 credit hours, Nielsen said. 

What's Next

An additional 2 percent in strategic budget reductions are planned to bring the university's total savings to $36 million, or 7 percent of the university budget. "Strategic cuts will be made one at a time as we are prepared to move," Nielsen said. "Some of those cuts could take up to a year to implement."

More job losses are possible because of those cuts, he added. 

The UNC system's Office of the President and Board of Governors will review the 5 percent budget reduction plan. "We are operating under the premise that this is the plan for the 5 percent reduction," Nielsen said. "We have a plan, but the legislature could give us different reduction instructions."

"The next thing to watch for is the House budget, which will be developed based on tax revenues," Nielsen said. "Once we know that, we'll have a much better idea what the sideboards are on the budget discussions."

Despite the cuts announced this week, the university remains strong, Nielsen said. "NC State is a valued part of our state, and North Carolina values education. We know that they are doing the best that they can at the state level."