Spring budget discussed
(May 7, 2001)
Demands for spending cuts by some legislators have forced university officials to develop plans for reducing the university budget by more than $11 million.
Such a reduction would mean the elimination of 30 faculty positions, 50 SPA positions and five non-teaching EPA positions on the central campus. At the health-sciences campus, the cutbacks would include 10 SPA positions and four non-teaching EPA positions.
Chancellor Richard Eakin cautioned that the plan is only a "potential deal" and was developed in response to requests from a subcommittee of the Joint Appropriations Committee to reduce the University of North Carolina system budget by $125 million. The budget process in the General Assembly could last into July or August, he said.
"I’m a bit of an optimist," Eakin said. "My optimism says there has to be a better way" to balance the state budget. He said the university is doing everything it can to minimize potential layoffs.
If the proposed cuts are implemented, Eakin said, they would do "extraordinary damage to East Carolina University." It could take the institution 10 years to recover from the reductions, he said.
On top of the proposed reductions in appropriations, the university must deal with the absence of new funds to handle soaring utility bills, a negative adjustment in enrollment funding, and an anticipated failure by the state to deliver the final installment of doctoral funding. Those developments could bring the total shortfall to more than $17 million, Eakin said.
Possible budget reductions outlined by university officials, in addition to faculty and staff positions, include cuts of 20 percent in the operating budgets of academic and administrative offices, 25 percent in faculty and administrative computer purchases, 20 percent in library acquisitions, and 75 percent in travel to professional meetings by medical school faculty.
ECU and the other UNC system components, at the request of UNC President Molly Corbett Broad, each drew up proposed cuts totaling 6.559 percent of their appropriated funds. Some legislators last week criticized Broad’s pro-rata method for dealing with requested spending reductions and promised to draw up their own list of priorities for cuts.
Recommendations for university budgets were expected to be presented to the full Appropriations Committee late this week.