The University of North Carolina system cut more than 3,000 filled jobs because of spending reductions required by the General Assembly in this year's budget, leading to larger class sizes, curtailed services and fewer instructors and administrators, according to a system report released Thursday.
The university system, which collected data from all 17 campuses and other programs, reported 488 filled full-time positions were eliminated and 2,544 part-time or temporary workers were no longer employed. In addition, the report said another 1,487 vacant positions were eliminated and another 508 previously funded with state money are now funded through other methods, such as university receipts.
The Republican-penned budget required the university system to come up with $414 million in spending reductions -- equivalent to an across-the-board reduction of 15.6 percent. It was part of a legislative plan to close a $2.6 billion shortfall while allowing a pair of temporary tax increases to expire.
The report, being presented Thursday afternoon to a budget committee of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors meeting in Chapel Hill, said 1,979 of the part-time workers who are no longer employed were labeled as faculty positions such as lecturers and adjunct faculty. Another 356 people who were let go were categorized primarily as graduate assistants who performed some teaching or research duties.
The figure of 3,032 employees who are no longer working appears to jibe with warnings by UNC system leaders and Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue about the GOP's budget effects on a university system that had about 35,000 workers paid for with state budgeted funds before the cuts took effect starting July 1.
UNC system leaders and Perdue predicted anywhere from 2,700 to 3,200 positions would be eliminated if the budget drawn up by GOP leaders became law, although it wasn't clear if those jobs would all be filled. Perdue vetoed the budget, but Republicans and a handful of Democrats voted to override her stamp.
Republicans acknowledged at the time the UNC cuts could hurt but noted campuses had other ways to generate revenue, such as tuition, fundraising and federal dollars.
"I'm sure the universities have had to make some tough decisions during this budget cycle," Rep. Bryan Holloway, R-Stokes, one of the House education budget-writers, said Thursday. Holloway acknowledged that UNC had to dig deeper than the public schools, which saw a nearly 6 percent reduction in state appropriations. Overall, the UNC system's state funding dropped 12 percent to $2.54 billion.
"The universities may have to sacrifice a little more than they're used to to protect the jobs in K-12," he said.
Last week, the public schools said a survey of nearly all of the state's school districts found 534 teachers lost their jobs statewide, and 2,418 education workers were cut ahead of the current school year.
The two major political parties have been tugging at each other over the budget for months, with Democrats arguing the Republican plan that let an extra penny on the sales tax expire two months ago enacted too high a price upon thousands of state workers and educators who lost their jobs.
"The damage from this Republican-led General Assembly and its destructive budget plan becomes clearer every day," House Minority Leader Joe Hackney, D-Orange, said in a prepared statement. He added the state "once distinguished itself from other states with its commitment to our university system. That distinction is threatened under Republican leadership."
Holloway said the initial results show budget critics were off the mark in calculating the scope of layoffs, particularly for the public schools.
"I don't think the sky has fallen the way it has projected that it would," he said.
The budget cuts are the latest in more than $600 million in spending reductions mandated upon the UNC system since 2007, but this year's cuts are by far the most acute upon academic and student services. The Board of Governors approved a method to distribute the cuts in a range from 8.4 percent for the North Carolina School of Science and Math in Durham to 17.9 percent at the flagship UNC-Chapel Hill.
A presentation for the board's budget committee Thursday highlighted the hardships caused by the cuts. They include:
-- more than 350 students at North Carolina Central University in Durham unable to enroll in general education math courses because there aren't enough classes being offered.
-- the number of classes at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee with more than 50 students doubled compared with a year ago.
-- libraries at Appalachian State University in Boone and UNC-Wilmington are no longer open 24 hours a day during the week.
-- the computer help desk at North Carolina State University in Raleigh no longer takes calls after regular business hours.
-- several campuses eliminating or consolidating administrative positions
Among the job losses, N.C. State University, UNC-Wilmington and UNC -Greensboro each told the system they eliminated more than 400 adjunct or part-time instructors, the report said. UNC-Chapel Hill reported a system-high 136 graduate assistant position eliminations, followed by 94 at N.C. State.
The 177 full-time faculty positions eliminated across the system were for non-tenure track instructors, the report said.