A year after the UNC system eliminated about 900 positions across the state, President Erskine Bowles is warning of an even more severe series of cuts this year.
If the UNC system is asked to cut another 5 percent from its budget this year, about 1,000 jobs will be lost, and half of them will be faculty members, Bowles told members of the UNC system's Board of Governors Friday.
But the UNC system isn't being asked to make that cut. The current expectation is a 2 percent cut, which would amount to $52 million across the system.
The larger number comes from the Office of State Budget and Management, which weeks ago asked state agencies to prepare 5 percent cut scenarios - a common exercise in tight economic times. The eventual number could be higher, or lower.
But after eliminating 935 positions last year, most of which were administrative, on orders to reduce $294 million in spending, Bowles said Friday he believes the UNC system has done its part.
The UNC system could handle another 2 percent cut, as is expected. Any more, Bowles said, would be disastrous.
"It will do substantial and sustainable damage to the quality of education we can offer," he said. "There's a lot for us to be concerned about."
Bowles and other UNC system leaders protected the academic side in large part last year by focusing almost exclusively on administrative positions, gutting middle management and reducing or eliminating more than 100 centers and institutes.
Cutting faculty is another matter.
At N.C. State, officials have tried to grow the faculty in response to a continuing surge in enrollement, said Randy Woodson, who is in his first week as NCSU's new chancellor.
"It's the wrong direction," he said of faculty cuts. "You make career investments in faculty, so decreasing the size is a very difficult thing."