Leadership at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro says financial headwinds are forcing changes, including program cuts. Chancellor Frank Gilliam Jr. is facing opposition from some faculty and students.
UNCG enrollment has declined by more than 2,000 students in the last five years. Gilliam says that’s leading to budget challenges.
"We really need to take a focused look at what we're offering, where student demand is, where opportunity areas are for us, and then what things can we just not afford to do anymore,” he says.
To identify what they can’t afford, the university is conducting an academic program review — a common practice in higher education. Faculty, department chairs and deans will assess the performance of each program and evaluate factors like enrollment, student interest and graduation rates.
“Some of the measures are quantitative," he says. "How many student credit hours do we produce? What's it cost to produce them? Some are qualitative.”
In October, students protested, and some faculty have signed a petition to stop the review.
UNCG’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors, or AAUP, hired an outside financial consultant to do their own report. It found the reasons for the budget deficit have more to do with how much administrators are paid and how much the university spends on athletics.
Mark Elliott, the UNCG chapter president of AAUP, says around 60 programs are at risk of being cut — mainly humanities programs and ones that are not pre-professional. Elliott says he wants to see UNCG flourish.
"If we continue down this path, I think they don't understand just what damage that will do to the university if they go through with these cuts," he says. "So I'm motivated by trying to save our university's reputation, I'm motivated by trying to save my colleagues’ jobs."
Chancellor Gilliam released a statement saying the report ignores the fact that revenue is dependent upon enrollment, which is declining. Gilliam says that UNCG is committed to the liberal arts and is not targeting any one field of study.
The terminated programs will stop accepting new students in February. The university will then begin a “teach out” in which they will graduate all the students remaining in the program.