Monday, December 20, 2010

A University with a Plan

By Chancellor Philip L. Dubois

(This column is reprinted from the Q4 2010 edition of UNC Charlotte magazine,published in December 2010)

North Carolina’s looming fiscal crisis is old news to anyone who followed the recent elections or read the headlines in the newspapers in the past few weeks. A projected $3.7 billion deficit in FY12 against a total state budget of approximately $19 billion is sobering and, most assuredly, will have an impact on us at the University.

Notwithstanding what we expect will be tougher times ahead, we’ve enjoyed terrific progress in the past few years toward establishing UNC Charlotte as North Carolina’s urban research university. Total enrollment crossed the 25,000 mark, we awarded a record number of 95 doctoral degrees last year and, in just two-and-a-half years, we will play the first intercollegiate football game in our history.

These are great times to be a Niner. We cannot afford to allow the State’s fiscal issues to slow our momentum.

Since July 1, 2008, the permanent reductions to our State appropriations have totaled over $15 million and undoubtedly, further cuts are looming. Clearly defined campus-wide priorities and objectives will help us make the difficult decisions over the next few months to ensure our progress as a university in this era of fiscal constraint. For that reason, we are mid-way through a 12-month planning cycle aimed at producing an institutional plan that will guide the University through 2016.

We’ll use this planning process to restate our institutional goals so they more clearly reinforce our revised Mission Statement, identify key strategies to pursue over the next five years in a constrained economic environment, and revise assumptions about our overall planning process. We expect the final plan to be reviewed and approved by the Board of Trustees by early summer, 2011.

Two other external factors make the development of this plan especially timely. “UNC Tomorrow,” the ambitious effort by President Erskine Bowles and the system Board of Governors to aggregate and focus local campus planning to meet the needs of the State, will be continued through the transition from the Bowles administration to that of President Tom Ross. Second, UNC Charlotte’s reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is scheduled for 2013. Our plans for the future will form an important element of that examination.

The University has already launched a revision of the campus Academic Plan, the college academic plans, and the plans of academic support units. My Cabinet will similarly assess each administrative division within the University. Several goals and major implementation strategies have already been approved for discussion with faculty, staff, students, and off-campus constituents, including alumni.

A draft of our planning assumptions as well as our draft institutional goals and strategies are available in the Chancellor’s Outbox at

Resolutions are useful. As we begin a New Year at UNC Charlotte — one that will surely be full of unknown challenges and opportunities — we will do so with a new plan for the future and the resolve to fulfill goals established collaboratively with our growing community of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends.
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