How to Deal with Budget Cuts

by Jane S. Shaw

In the face of pending budget cuts, the laments of university officials go on and on. Today we have Rosemary DePaolo, chanceller of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, racking up a very long list of difficulties:

These additional proposed reductions will mean eliminating faculty and staff positions, larger classes that will adversely impact students’ learning experiences; fewer classes that will result in students taking a longer time to graduate, which will, in turn, create a far greater tax burden on North Carolina’s citizens; fewer faculty and staff to teach and advise students, which will result in less effective instruction; and inevitably, the lowering of retention and graduation rates overall.  

But there’s an efficient way to address these problems: rein in the growth of enrollment. Certainly in North Carolina and undoubtedly in other states, it’s time to back off.

The number of students in North Carolina’s public universities has been increasing at twice the rate of North Carolina’s population for the past decade. Every faculty member knows that plenty of their students aren’t ready for college — and students prove it each year with a six-year graduation rate of 63 percent (nationally the figure is 56 percent).

I make this point today on the Pope Center website (as I did earlier in a local newspaper). Now, where am I wrong?

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