Should UNC limit enrollment? Reduce it, even?
This isn't the sort of idea that has ever gotten much serious consideration in North Carolina, a state that prides itself on providing an affordable and accessible education to its citizens.
But these woeful economic times are changing the minds of decision-makers. In today's paper, a story about why this may not be the worst time for the state to consider scaling back enrollment.
One note: There's an error in the story that will be corrected. There are 58 community college campuses in North Carolina, not 56.
In today's paper, a big story about the rising cost of college and the impact legislative decisions may have, in particular, on financial aid and debt levels.
In reporting the story, I ran across an interesting student at N.C. Central University, William Anyu. He didn't make the story, but his tale is worth telling here. A version will likely also appear in the Durham News at some point soon.
William Anyu is so tuned in to his finances that he can tell how much he spent on the clothes he’s wearing.
That gray cardigan was $15 from the clearance rack at J.C. Penney. The sweatpants? Ten bucks at Walmart.
The N.C. Central University sophomore is proud of his financial smarts. But ask him about the rising costs of college, and a brief storm cloud shadows his sunny disposition.
“It’s a depressing thought,” he said one recent evening during his graveyard shift manning the front desk of a NCCU residence hall.
“I can’t do anything about it.”
Senate budget writers would offer $87 million more to the UNC system than their N.C. House counterparts have proposed.
But K-12 and community colleges would take a bigger hit, according to new spending targets released Tuesday by Senate officials.
As Lynn Bonner and Craig Jarvis report in today's paper, the Senate would spend about $40 million less overall on education than the House would, while apportioning that spending in different ways.
K-12 education would receive $106 million less than the House's version, while community colleges would get about $21 million less.
The leaders of the UNC system and its campuses turned precisely zero cartwheels Tuesday upon getting a look at the spending plan proposed by the House.
It calls for cuts of more than 15 percent to public universities. That's far too much, UNC President and others said.
Systemwide, that would lead to the elimination of 3,200 jobs, many of them filled, Ross said.
N.C. State Chancellor Randy Woodson said the cuts would force "large and dramatic change" to the entire system.
Stay tuned. The Senate budget, expected to be more friendly to universities, comes out next.
Has it really been 40 years?
Bill Friday, the longtime UNC president who many in this state consider the godfather of public higher education, is celebrating the 40th anniversary of his UNC-TV interview show, "North Carolina People with Bill Friday."
As Yonat Shimron reports in Sunday's News & Observer, Friday is as sharp and on point as ever, having long ago learned the value of the open-ended question.
A UNC Charlotte professor has won the top faculty award given by the UNC system.
Diane Browder, a special education professor at UNCC, received the O. Max Gardner Award Friday during a meeting of the UNC system's Board of Governors.
Browder has spent more than two decades on academic instruction and assessment methods for severly disabled children. Her work has changed educational expectations for disabled children and helped shape educational policies and practices, according to a Friday news release.
"Dr. Browder is living proof that the research we do on our campuses matter," UNC system President Tom Ross said.
Browder's award, which carries a $20,000 prize, is given annually from the will of former Gov. Oliver Max Gardner to recognize faculty who make "the greatest contributions to the welfare of the human race."
A Duke graduate, Browder has long worked to dispel the notion that children with severe disabilities can't learn cognitive or academic skills.
In accepting her award, she told a short anecdote that elicited smiles and tingles from a packed room of onlookers. It centered on a young girl who was severely disabled. She'd never spoken in her life, communicating essentially through with her eyes.
Then one day, Browder was quizzing her with pictures. She locked eyes on a picture and, for the first time in her life, spoke.
The word was "apple."
The disruption expected when the Democratic National Convention comes to Charlotte next year may force a significant adjustment to the academic calendar at UNC Charlotte.
The university may push back the start of the fall 2012 semester by more than three weeks to both accommodate infrastructure demands from convention visitors and to avoid disruptions caused by the event, which is expected to draw 35,000 to the Queen City.
"It would be very difficult to conduct regular business with the convention going on," said Phil Dubois, UNCC's chancellor. "If the president comes to town, everything stops."
Currently, fall classes next year are slated to start Aug. 20. But Dubois told members of the UNC system's Board of Governors this week classes may be pushed back 25 days.
"It looks like we could make it work if we push close to Christmas," Dubois said, adding that the university may add Saturday classes to help make up the lost class days.
The convention is slated for the week of Sept. 3, and UNCC's downtown facility is just three blocks from the convention site.
In addition, the university has been asked to help provide housing for visitors; Dubois has offered up 1,500 residence hall beds but will charge $500 per person per night. That's what the university needs to charge to make up for lost revenue.
UNCC would have to alter contracts for student housing and food service and make other adjustments that, in total, would cost the university $3 million.
"There's a cost to our cooperation," Dubois said. "We're not going to do anything to be subsidizing the Democratic National Convention."
The university also hopes to turn the convention into a learning lab for some of its students. It hopes to place some as volunteers and perhaps create courses that involve the convention; a fourth summer session may be squeezed in during the 25-day delay at the end of the summer, Dubois said.
"Yes, it's an inconvenience," he said. "But with that inconvenience comes a chance to do something meaningful. The faculty see it as an opportunity for students."
Amid a long discussion this morning on the budget cuts hanging over the UNC system, one member of the system's governing board spoke of what he called the university's "social compact."
That being, the cycle the university sets in motion by bringing a student to a public university.
Here's what Charlie Mercer said:
For many years, this university has educated people across this state that go back to their communities and contribute. When those students have gone to the university, the people in their community are very proud of them. There's an emotional component. They're going to go back to their community. So that one educated person will help that community. There's a societal benefit. We can't lose sight of that.
Republicans will soon outnumber Democrats on the UNC system's Board of Governors.
This shift becomes official later this summer when 16 members appointed this week and last by the new Republican-led legislature take their seats.
As Jane Stancill reports over on our Under the Dome blog, Republicans outnumber Democrats 18-13.
Have a look.