Budget Cuts, Health Risks Loom For UNC System Campuses And Workers

Jul 22, 2020

In an email to leaders at all 17 UNC System campuses, UNC Board of Governors Chairman Randall Ramsey asked each chancellor to prepare a proposal that reflects a budget cut of up to 50 percent. 

The cuts are meant as preemptive preparation for a long-term scenario in which campus funding would significantly decrease due to the impact of COVID-19. In meetings on Wednesday and Thursday, the Board of Governors is also expected to further discuss reopening this fall, as faculty, staff and students push back against existing plans.

Workers tasked with cleaning and sanitizing community spaces like dorms, cafeterias, athletic centers and dining halls are especially concerned, as many have returned to campus in advance of reopening and faced health risks in doing so. Earlier this month, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill athletics department reported that 37 coaches, staff and athletes tested positive for COVID-19.

We reached out the UNC Chapel Hill for comment and received the following statement from a statement from Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Equal Opportunity and Compliance Becci Menghini: “We acknowledge and hear our employees’ concerns. We are incorporating feedback from our campus community, including our valued staff, in our planning for the fall semester. We will continue to work together to address their concerns.”

 Host Anita Rao talks to WUNC education reporter Liz Schlemmer about reopening updates and long-term financial planning for the UNC System. Rao also speaks to two UNC Chapel Hill facilities workers — housekeeper Jermany Alston and groundskeeper David Brannigan — about public safety, compliance and risk.