Broad pans tuition autonomy plan

By: - August 2, 2005 5:13 am

Daily Advance


Molly C. Broad is adamant that the UNC Board of Governors, not the Legislature, should decide if member institutions raise tuition.

The president of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors also said its "inappropriate" for officials of UNC member schools to lobby legislators on their own.

Broad was at Elizabeth City State University Monday accompanying the UNC Board of Governors’ eight newest members on a tour of the campus. Before the group departed, Broad spoke out against a state Senate proposal to allow some UNC system universities to increase tuition without the Board of Governors’ approval.

Broad also chided University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and N.C. State University officials who she said went behind the backs of the Board of Governors "to seek special treatment from legislators."

Increasing tuition at UNC system schools is a decision best left to the Board of Governors and not lawmakers, Broad said.

"I hope the General Assembly does not support" the proposal, Broad said.

In May, the Senate added the controversial provision to the state’s $17 billion budget. If approved, the provision would circumvent the Board of Governors’ long-time authority and allow the two universities to increase tuition without the board’s approval.

Sen. Marc Basnight, D-Dare, supported the provision.

Basnight, the Senate president pro tem, believes the UNC Board of Governors’ current model for providing funding to its 16 institutions isn’t capable of providing the two research universities enough money to support research and professor salaries, said Tony Caravano, a Basnight spokesman.

To make matters worse for Broad, House Speaker Jim Black, D-Mecklenburg, announced last week that East Carolina University, UNC-Charlotte and UNC-Greensboro would also be granted tuition autonomy if the state approves the provision.

More than 30 years ago the state established the UNC Board of Governors to serve as the centralized governing authority over the UNC systems’ 16 members.

UNC members include ECSU, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Greensboro, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Asheville, UNC-Wilmington, UNC-Pembroke, NCSU, East Carolina University, Fayetteville State, Winston-Salem State, N.C. A&T University, N.C. Central University, Western Carolina University, Appalachian State and the N.C. School of the Arts.

This week, it was ECSU’s turn to host the newest UNC board members, along with Broad, for a tour and campus update.

New members include Fred G. Mills, Peaches Gunter Blank, Phillip R. Dixon, Irvin A. Roseman, Charles A. Hayes, William G. Smith, David W. Young and Zachary A. Wynne, all appointed to the UNC Board in 2005.

Wynne sits on the board as a student representative from NCSU and is president of the UNC Association of Student Governments.

ECSU officials welcomed the new members Sunday night and took them on a tour of the campus Monday morning. A quick visit to the university’s year-old Viking Village off-campus housing complex left quite an impression on the new board members.

"This is high living," said Young.

Dr. Ronald Blackmon, ECSU’s vice chancellor for academic affairs, made a presentation on the university’s popular remote sensing curriculum. The board also saw where construction of ECSU’s temporary pharmacy school has begun on campus.

Broad said the tour is a great opportunity for board members to get to know the campuses with which they are responsible for setting policy.

Monday’s visit to the ECSU campus wasn’t the first for Smith or Blank.

Smith, originally from Bertie County, noted the progress being made at the university.

"I think the new pharmacy school will do great things for North Carolina," he said.

Blank said the campus had undergone a lot of positive changes since she last visited several years ago.

"It didn’t look anything like this," she said.

The changes accentuate the goals set by ECSU leaders to provide students a good variety of academic choices, she said.

Mills, who visited ECSU for the first time, said he was impressed with the enthusiasm of ECSU Chancellor Mickey Burnim and his entire staff.

Touring the university and speaking directly with ECSU officials meant much more to him than just reading about the campus, Mills said.

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Chris Fitzsimon

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina. [email protected] 919-861-2066