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Budget Shortfall Forces Big Changes at UNCA

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Budget Shortfall Forces Big Changes at UNCA

The University of North Carolina Asheville (UNCA) is facing a significant budget shortfall, leading to major changes within the institution. Chancellor Kimberly van Noort is taking urgent measures to address the $6 million deficit by the end of June.

Enrollment Decline and Financial Crisis

The primary cause of the financial crisis at UNCA is a sharp decline in enrollment, which has decreased by 22.2% from 2018 to 2023. This drop is the most significant among all 16 schools in the UNC system. With fewer students, UNCA’s state funding and tuition income have also declined, leading to the budget deficit.

Layoffs and Program Cuts

To address the budget shortfall, UNCA is implementing faculty layoffs, early retirements, and cuts to academic programs. An unspecified number of adjunct professors will be laid off, and lecturers may also face layoffs. The school is reconfiguring its curriculum to focus more on sciences to attract more students.

Changes in School Description

Chancellor van Noort has dropped the word “liberal” from UNCA’s description, now calling it a “public arts and sciences university.” This change aligns with a shift in the school’s curriculum towards a larger role for sciences.

Impact on Faculty and Students

The faculty layoffs and program cuts have caused distress among staff and faculty at UNCA. The elimination of humanities adjuncts and the potential layoff of lecturers are expected to significantly impact the student experience and the university’s savings.

Efforts to Address Enrollment Decline

Chancellor van Noort has been working on increasing enrollment at UNCA through marketing efforts, offering free tuition for lower-income students, and hosting events to attract prospective students. The school has seen a 30% increase in applications over the last two years.

Future Plans

UNCA is considering program cuts, starting with the humanities program, to address the budget deficit. The school is also exploring ways to enhance internship opportunities for students and make a liberal arts education more relevant and career-focused.

Overall, the changes at UNCA reflect a broader trend in higher education towards restructuring and realigning academic programs to meet the evolving needs of students and the job market.

HERE Asheville
Author: HERE Asheville

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