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Chris Fitzsimon: Threat to university system

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If you happen to find yourself on the campus of N.C. State or North Carolina Central University or any other UNC school in the next couple of weeks, take a good look around. If the Republican leadership in the General Assembly has its way with the state budget this year, the campuses could look much different when students show up at school next fall.

There are persistent rumors in the Legislative Building that budget writers are considering much deeper cuts to the university system than the 5 and 10 percent reductions that were previously predicted. University officials have said publicly they have heard that between 20 and 30 percent reductions are not out of the question.

That possibility represents the greatest threat to North Carolina's nationally recognized university system since it was consolidated in 1971.

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Threats to Universities Include Inept Chancellors.

(The author who has 35 years’ consulting experience, has taught at University of California Berkeley, where he was able to observe the culture and the way senior management work.) Recently: University of California Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau pays ex Michigan governor $300,000 for lectures; NCAA places Chancellor Birgeneau’s Cal. men’s basketball program on probation Chancellor Robert J Birgeneau’s ($500,000 salary) eight-year fiscal track record is dismal indeed. He would like to blame the politicians, since they stopped giving him every dollar he has asked for, and the state legislators do share some responsibility for the financial crisis. But not in the sense he means. A competent chancellor would have been on top of identifying inefficiencies and then crafting a plan to fix them. Competent oversight by the UC Board of Regents and the legislature would have required him to provide data on inefficiencies and on what steps he was taking to solve them. Instead, every year Birgeneau would request a budget increase, the regents would agree to it, and the legislature would provide. The hard questions were avoided by all concerned, and the problems just piled up to $150 million of inefficiencies….until there was no money left. It’s not that Birgeneau was unaware that there were, in fact, waste and inefficiencies. Faculty and staff raised issues with Birgeneau and Provost Breslauer, but when they failed to see relevant action taken, they stopped. Finally, Birgeneau engaged some expensive ($3,000,000) consultants to tell him what he should have known as a leader or been able to find out from the bright, engaged Cal. people. (A prominent East Coast university was accomplishing the same thing without expensive consultants) In short, there is plenty of blame to go around. Merely cutting out inefficiencies will not have the effect desired. But you never want a serious crisis to go to waste. Increasing the budget is not enough; transforming Cal. senior management is necessary

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