Budget concerns, administrative candidate searches and university marketing were at the forefront of discussions throughout the monthly UNCP Faculty Senate meeting on Feb.1.
Chancellor Robin Cummings began the meeting by reflecting on the decision to cut UNCP’s men’s soccer team, an initiative that was taken at the beginning of the semester. Cummings praised Director of Athletics Dick Christy for his cooperation throughout the process, stating that the athletic department had experienced budget problems that would either result in a uniform deduction of funds for all teams or the outright termination of one. Ultimately, the latter was chosen as the most sensible option.
“It was a very heart wrenching and tough decision, but it was a necessary one,” Cummings said.
The athletic department’s budget was not the only monetary issue in question. Senator-at-Large Dr. John Parnell asked Cummings to address the school’s overall financial standing, saying that there was a general sense of concern regarding budget struggles.
Cummings reassured the senate that the school was not going to be put in an immediate budget crisis because of recent financial burdens, but noted two specific issues that were impacting solvency. Collateral impact from Hurricane Matthew and shortages in enrollment were the two contributing factors, according to Cummings.
“Hurricane Matthew was a $500,000 hit that was unexpected,” Cummings said.
Cummings said he was corresponding with his cabinet to address issues relating to enrollment, emphasizing the need to act quickly in order to avoid long-term issues.
“I’m thankful we have the N.C. Promise in our future,” Cummings said, referring to the state’s new budget plan that will lower tuition at UNCP to $500 per semester by 2018. Cummings is hopeful that the lowered cost will help increase enrollment at the school.
Acting provost Dr. Scott Billingsley noted that 10 academic departments are currently conducting faculty searches. This is in addition to the search for a new provost, which has attracted 70 applications, according to Cummings. The school is also looking to fill the position of associate vice chancellor for enrollment.
Billingsley, a professor in the department of history, announced the promotion of Dr. Stuart Thomas to interim associate provost. Billingsley also stated that he had no intention to apply for the open provost position.
On the issue of marketing, Cummings stressed the importance of the upcoming open house on Feb.11. He encouraged faculty members to get involved help make a favorable impression on the visiting students and their parents.
A couple of elections took place at the meeting as well. The senate chair and secretary position were decided by secret ballot.
Dr. Jesse Peters, a professor in the English department, was elected senate chair, while music professor Dr. Aaron Vandermeer retained his role as secretary.