N.C. Central University wanted about $800,000 in state funds next year to start restructuring NCCU's University College.
He may get $300,000, and will be thankful for it. Given the state economy and UNC system President Erskine Bowles' demand that every line item in the university system's new budget request be justified to his satisfaction, Nelms is happy with whatever he can get.
Bowles and the UNC system wrote $300,000 into the budget request approved Friday for the NCCU initiative. While far less than what Nelms wanted, he said restructuring the college is a top priority, so he'll shift some federal money from other places to pay for it.
Earlier this year, NCCU decided to transform the college, which previously functioned basically as a clearinghouse for a variety of not-necessarily-connected functions, to a place from which campus leaders could focus on their top academic priority: student retention.
The money will pay largely for people. In order to re-cast the University College properly, Nelms hopes to hire more academic advisors and tutors and identify more mentors for first- and second-year students. NCCU is a historically black institution, and many of its students are the first in their families to go to college. Many arrive excited yet unprepared for the rigors of college-level work, Nelms said.
"These kids need some straight talk and a certain amount of structured support," he said.