Dear UNC Community Members,
Thank you to those who participated in this morning’s open forum on potential university-wide cost-saving options. Over 300 people participated and we received a tremendous amount of valuable feedback. If you did not attend, I invite you to stop by the University Center ballrooms to read the notes from the roundtable discussions, which we posted on the walls, and add your own comments through 5 p.m. today. There is also an anonymous feedback form online at bit.ly/13options that will be available through 6 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, Jan. 15.
The open forum allowed participants to review and comment on the President’s Leadership Council’s (PLC) work. Early in the fall, we solicited ideas about potential university-wide
cost-saving options, narrowed the list down to 13 and shared them with the campus.
The PLC spent the fall semester assessing each option by looking at best practices,
comparing us to our peers, and discussing their potential savings and impact. After
deliberating for dozens of hours, the PLC made a recommendation on each option. I
shared a summary of our discussions and the PLC’s recommendations in the Jan. 7 UNC Today.
Feedback collected at the open forum and online will be analyzed and summarized by UNC’s Social Research Lab, which will provide a report that will be posted next week on my website. I will consider the feedback, decide which options to implement, and communicate that with the campus soon thereafter.
I had the opportunity at this morning’s forum to talk about how we will move forward after deciding which of cost-saving options to implement, and I want to share that with you as well. Beyond the options discussed today, there is more work to be done. To ensure that we address our deficit in its entirety, we will set division-level cost-saving goals by early February and have divisions identify savings by early March. Many decisions need to be made at the division and college level by the people who understand how reductions will affect their operations. I feel strongly about decentralizing the budget and empowering deans and VPs to be a significant part of managing our resources.
We won’t know exactly how much savings the divisions need to identify until I finalize the university-wide cost-saving options. However, the PLC started discussing different approaches to setting division-level goals last week. Two of the approaches we looked at were across-the-board reductions or rolling back investments made over the past five years. We recognized that these approaches lack a thoughtful strategy.
The third approach we discussed considers how UNC’s spending compares to our peers while also taking into consideration equity. Making such comparisons is far from a perfect science, so the model does not try to align us precisely with our peers. It focuses instead on spending ranges, bringing the greatest outliers toward the median range while expecting every division to identify savings. This is still very much a work in progress—no decisions have been made.
You may be aware that Academic Affairs has been discussing a 5-percent reduction for some time now (this is roughly the total percentage of savings we need to eliminate our overall deficit). I want to clarify that this work is preliminary—though I will also say it is great that so many people are already working to identify savings. Please keep up the good work! Just know that we will finalize the division-level goals by early February, we will not take an across-the-board approach and every division will be identifying savings.
Two important things must happen before we can finalize our plans. First, after I read the feedback from today’s events and the online feedback form that is available until 6 p.m. tomorrow, I will decide on the university-wide cost-saving options. This will tell us how much savings needs to be identified at the division level. Second, we have asked Huron, our enrollment management consultants, to advise us on our approaches to setting division-level goals. As you may recall, we hired Huron in November to help us develop a strategic enrollment management plan, and they are also experienced in cost-savings work.
I will continue to provide updates as we move forward. And as always, I welcome your suggestions and questions.
Rowing, Not Drifting,
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