Western Carolina University

 

Impact on Direct Instruction.  The Governor’s reduction would decrease Western Carolina University’s available teaching faculty by 17.24 positions (FTE), resulting in the loss of 138 class sections and 3503 seats for students.  Western Carolina cannot absorb these cuts by adding additional seats to existing classrooms; many courses already are at maximum seating capacity.   The university’s classrooms were built to assure personalized instruction; 55 percent have a capacity of 40 or fewer students.   Only one of the university’s four lectures halls will seat more than 150 students.  Elimination of class sections would increase the cost of education to students and their families; many students would be unable to schedule the courses they need to ensure graduation in the traditional, four-year time frame thereby extending time-to-degree.    

 

Restricting Access.  A 5.9 percent budget reduction would limit access to a Western Carolina education for both residential and distance students.  Applications for admission to Western Carolina have tripled, primarily among North Carolina high school graduates, in the last four years.   Enrollment in the university’s distance education programs is growing by more than 20 percent annually.  Lack of faculty has made expansion impossible in critically needed programs such as RN to BSN, Emergency Medical Care (focus on military students), Entrepreneurship, and the Community College Master’s Degree program.  Enrollment in some distance education programs has been capped.  A budget reduction of this magnitude would further decrease the university’s ability to meet the needs of both current distance students and those seeking entry into WCU’s programs.   Reducing faculty – and, therefore, program availability – will extend the time-to-degree for undergraduate students with resulting negative impacts on student progression and the economy.   

 

Strategic Initiatives:  Student Achievement and Regional Economic Development.  Western Carolina University has built a reputation as the national leader in preparing graduates for complex interactions and leadership in the Global economy, an education that enables students to learn through classroom instruction and real-world experience.    The university serves the region and the state through the nationally applauded Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the Forensics Sciences program, a high-demand Physical Therapy program, and the exploding Motion Picture and Film program, Criminal Justice, Emergency and Disaster Management, programs serving the military, and critically important programs in teacher preparation, educational leadership, and nursing, to cite a few examples.  A budget reduction of the magnitude proposed by the Governor would seriously impair initiatives in those areas and would limit the outreach of the university’s nationally recognized teacher education program to its more than 100 local school partner programs across North Carolina.   Fewer faculty positions would mean fewer specialists to work with public school principals and teachers in improving teacher and student performance in the state’s public schools.  The university’s highest capital priority is the construction of a facility with 21st Century teaching capabilities to house the College of Education and Allied Professions.   Planning money for the building was appropriated by the General Assembly in FY 2008-2009 but was withdrawn in subsequent state budget amendments.  

 

Repairs and Renovations (R&R):  Neither the approved FY 10-11 budget or the Governor’s recommended budget include funds for R&R.  Western Carolina has identified capital renewal needs to restore buildings to their original condition totaling more than $108.7 million.  Our six year R&R budget identifies the highest priority capital maintenance needs and it exceeds $40.8 million.  Over the last fours years, Western Carolina has received R&R net funding in the amount of $2,921,443 or 2.7% of our total needs.  A consistent and continuing funding allocation is critical for maintaining facilities to meet the needs of our constituencies.