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Saturday, January 21, 2012

NCCU may eliminate programs to deal with budget cuts

Facing increased cuts in state funding, the chancellor of N.C. Central University has proposed eliminating several degree programs, merging others and increasing the class size of selected general education courses as a way of balancing the budget.

Under the proposals, NCCU would no longer offer bachelor of arts degree programs in French, sociology or public administration; mathematics and physics would be combined into a single department and the dance program would be “restructured” and moved to the theater department.

In recommendations that he’s presenting to a series of “listening forums” across the campus over the next few weeks, Chancellor Charlie Nelms said that his proposed fiscal, administrative and academic restructuring is necessary “to free up funds to reinvest in academic and related programs, which will enhance the university’s quality and competitiveness.”

The proposals also include a parallel streamlining of administrative processes and practices designed, in total, to generate around $2 million in savings during the next fiscal year.
Taken together, Nelms said, the recommendations would not only save money but would “enhance the university’s capacity to increase retention and graduation rates,” produce graduates who possess critical thinking and analytical skills, and “respond to current and projected budget challenges.”
Nelms’ recommendations are based on a report on the academic side by Provost Debbie Thomas and on the administrative side by Vice Chancellor Wendell Davis. 

The proposals from Nelms also call for:

• Eliminating the bachelor of science program in athletic training;

• Merging the College of Science and Technology with the College of Liberal Arts to create the College of Arts and Sciences;

• Transforming the mass communication program into the department of mass communication;

• Merging the computer information systems and computer science degree programs.

While the recommendations call for some degree programs to be eliminated, Nelms emphasized that courses in the affected departments will still be offered and current declared majors will be able to meet their degree requirements.

The administrative recommendations also call for:

• Implementing “reductions in force” in the division of administration and finance to “better align personnel costs with the needs and structure of units and departments”;

• Eliminating 10 temporary positions;

• Limiting free student printing in the computer labs;

• Canceling maintenance contracts for unused software products and reducing the extent of support services.

Overall, the administrative report to Nelms made 60 suggestions for cost reduction that, if all were implemented, would save NCCU about $1.475 million. With the academic restructurings, the projected total savings would be about $2 million.

“I feel strongly that these proposals will improve the university’s capacity to fulfill its mission of retaining and graduating students who can lead in a global society,” Nelms wrote in an executive summary of his recommendations.

“This is a pragmatic approach to restructuring the university that will not alter our character, because it begins with what we already do well and seeks only to make us better.”


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