June was a busy month for the N.C. General Assembly as it passed the biennial state budget and overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto before adjourning. The passed budget signals a greater investment in, and support for, UNC Charlotte and the entire UNC system.
"The budget passed by the legislature invests in UNC Charlotte's top priorities: funding enrollment growth for our fast-growing campus, investing in faculty through the Faculty Recruitment and Retention Fund and recognizes our employees with a modest salary increase and a cost of living adjustment for our retirees," said UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip L. Dubois. "The Board of Governors will soon make decisions with respect to campus allocations of $50 million in funding for repairs and renovations (R & R). Funding R & R is critical for UNC Charlotte as we renovate some of our older instructional and research facilities."
The budget includes $46.6 million for enrollment growth funding for the UNC system, with about $15 million allocated to UNC Charlotte. The University remains the fastest-growing campus in the UNC system. More than 50 percent of the total growth in the UNC system since 2009 has occurred on the UNC Charlotte campus.
UNC Charlotte has experienced a 33 percent enrollment increase during the last decade and expects to enroll more than 29,000 students for the 2017-18 academic year. These funds will be used to hire talented faculty and staff and support critical programs and services that boost student success.
Salary increases were another top legislative priority for UNC Charlotte. The budget includes a $1,000 across-the-board pay increase for all employees subject to the State Human Resources Act (SHRA), three bonus days of vacation and a 1 percent cost of living adjustment for retirees. In addition, the budget calls for flexibility in allocating increases for exempt employees.
The budget includes $1 million to the UNC system for the faculty recruitment and retention fund. Over the years, access to these funds have helped UNC Charlotte attract and retain more than 75 outstanding professors in a variety of fields. It also allocates $1 million for the Research Opportunities Initiative – a UNC system competitive program that funded a data analytics program at UNC Charlotte.
Unfortunately, the carryforward budgetary authority was not expanded beyond the current 2.5 percent. Another measure, increasing the chancellors’ approval authority for small capital projects from $300,000 to $1 million was not approved. These business practices would have allowed the University to more efficiently address campus repairs and upgrades.
“I want to thank the UNC Charlotte alumni, Board of Trustees, Foundation Board members and friends of the University who contacted legislators asking for their support of our campus,” said Betty Doster, special assistant to the Chancellor for constituent relations.
The N.C. General Assembly recently elected 13 members of the UNC Board of Governors including, for the first time in several decades, an alumnus of UNC Charlotte: former Sen. Bob Rucho (’94). Rucho, a retired dentist from Matthews, served eight terms in the N.C. Senate where he was a champion of the UNC Charlotte $90 million science building. He also served on the Board of Advisors for the Belk College of Business.
(Rucho pictured here)
Other recently elected members include:
Rob Bryan (Charlotte) is senior vice president for corporate strategies and real estate at Cardinal Health Innovations. He served in the N.C. House of Representatives, where he rose to co-chair Education Appropriations and was a strong advocate for UNC Charlotte and higher education. Bryan received his undergraduate degree from UNC Chapel Hill and his J.D. from Duke University Law School.
Carolyn Lloyd Coward (Robbinsville) is an attorney with Van Winkle Buck Wall Starnes and Davis P.A. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee and her J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law. She also served on the Western Carolina University Board of Trustees.
Leo Daughtry (Smithfield) is an attorney and a wine wholesaler who served in both the N.C. Senate and House of Representatives, where he was elected majority leader. He was a strong supporter of the UNC system during his legislative service. Daughtry received his undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and his L.L.B. from Wake Forest University School of Law.
Tom Fetzer (Wilmington) is president of Fetzer Strategic Partners, a lobbying firm, and served for three terms as mayor of Raleigh. He received his undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and also served on the Western Carolina Board of Trustees.
Kellie Blue Hunt (Pembroke) is director of finance for Robeson County. She received her undergraduate degree from UNC Pembroke and served on its Board of Trustees.
Wendy Murphy (Wallace) is an alumna of UNC Wilmington. She served on the UNC Wilmington Board of Trustees for 10 years and served as co-chair of the Chancellor’s Search Committee at the University.
Randy Ramsey (Beaufort) is founder of Jarrett Bay Boatworks Inc. and is a Bluewater Yacht sales principle. He has served on the N.C. State Board of Trustees.
Darrell Allison (Morrisville) was elected to fill an unexpired term. He is president and founder of Parents for Educational Freedom N.C., a school choice group. Allison received his undergraduate degree from NC Central, where he served on its Board of Trustees. His J.D. is from UNC Chapel Hill.