Category Archives: Higher Education Administration

University of North Carolina System May Discontinue 60 Degree Programs, Many of them Education Degree Programs

In response to a looming significant state budget shortfall, The University of North Carolina General Administration released a memorandum last week call for the discontinuation of 60 degree programs across the state. I have included the link to the memorandum here for your viewing.

I should note that an alarming number of the programs to be discontinued are educator preparation degree programs that will soon be offered as concentrations within degree programs in the the content subject areas. For example, at the University of North Carolina Charlotte (UNCC), the bachelor’s degree in History Education will be discontinued, but teacher licensure for middle grades and secondary history will continue to be offered through the bachelor’s degree program in History.

I believe what we are seeing in North Carolina is not isolated. In fact, I believe it is a trend. Other university systems and universities across the US have already eliminated educator preparation degree programs in the wake of budget shortfalls, and others across the country will likely follow suit. As this happens, I believe we will continue to see educator licensure degree programs eliminated from colleges of education and placed as concentrations or degree options in content area degree programs in colleges or arts and sciences, liberal arts, music, etc. If I am correct, we could be seeing the end of colleges of education as we know them.

Chancellors “Retreat” Policy in North Carolina

Leaders of the University of North Carolina System are debating the merits of a current policy which entitles a university president who retires after 5 years of service to a one year “retreat” with his/her full pay before returning as a faculty member and earning 60% of their administrator salary. The policy gained attention after North Carolina State University’s chancellor, Dr. James Oblinger, stepped down this summer amidst questions surrounding the appointment of the former first lady to a high paying faculty position. Under the current UNC System policy, Dr. Oblinger is entitled to that retreat. Given the circumstances of his departure, however, and North Carolina’s current economic climate, the idea of paying him a full salary after stepping down was a bit much for some to take, sparking the current debate over the policy.

Ultimately, we’re talking about state funds that pay university leaders’ salaries, so it is the right of the citizens of North Carolina through their elected and appointed officials to decide whether the policy should be retained. But in making that decision, they should know that policies like the UNC System’s “retreat” policy are not uncommon, and in fact are more the norm than not, especially for campuses that seek to attract the caliber of leaders that the UNC System schools have attracted. In a competitive market, where highly sought after leaders have choices, you can be sure that not having a policy such as this one could hinder the state in college leadership searches.

So while emotions are running high in this period of economic crisis and political turmoil, North Carolina citizens and leaders would be wise to make decisions that will be best for the future of higher education in North Carolina. As a proud alum (NC State, PhD), that’s what I’m hoping for.

Change on the Horizon for Higher Education in Louisiana

Louisiana’s new Postsecondary Education Review Commission convened for the first time week. The group meets with the charge of finding ways to streamline the state’s higher education system. Currently, three higher education systems operate in Louisiana, the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, the Southern University System, the University of Louisiana System, and the Louisiana State University System. Amidst state budget woes, one clear priority for the commission will be to find ways of eliminating academic and administrative duplication. In all likelihood, the commission’s recommendations will have to include the elimination or merger of university systems. The operation of all three distinct systems is neither cost efficient nor fiscally feasible in the present economic climate. It’s also possible that the commission’s recommendations could include closing or merging university campuses. There have already been serious talks of a merger of the University of New Orleans with Southern University of New Orleans.

Whatever the outcome of the commission’s work, one thing is certain, its recommendations will mean significant change and change is never welcomed by everyone. We will keep an eye on this one. More likely than not, the debate will be pretty heated.