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UNC Board of Governors meets in Cullowhee, votes for new funding model

UNC BOG at WCU
Lilly Knoepp/BPR News
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UNC System President Peter Hans poses with Western Carolina University staff.

The UNC System Board of Governors visited the westernmost school in the system this week.

The UNC System Board of Governors hosted their regular meeting Thursday at Western Carolina University, the first time they’ve met in Cullowhee since 2014. In the packed room, the board approved a big change to the system and passed policies which continue to address COVID-19.

The board approved a new funding model for universities in the system which will shift the focus away from enrollment numbers to student performance.

UNC System President Peter Hans applauded the decision during the meeting.

“This board has wisely revised a decades old funding formula to better emphasize the core responsibility of undergraduate education and value performance,” said Hans.

The continued impacts of COVID-19 on education were also on the agenda. The board extended a policy making SAT and ACT test scores optional for admissions until 2024 across the UNC system.

Board Chair Randy Ramsey says he isn’t sure if the change will be permanent.

“We are debating that within ourselves bringing those requirements back in at all That is something that we will continue to debate over the next two years as we continue this study that we are doing because certainly we want to make sure that students can be successful,” said Ramsey.

A little more than two-thirds of colleges and universities have adopted test optional admission policies at least through 2023, according to the National Center for Fair and Open testing.

The Board also discussed balancing student tuition and fees with the cost of running universities across the system.

The NC Promise program is a big piece of that affordability answer at Western Carolina University. The school is one of three in the state that dropped tuition to $500 per semester for in-state students.

Ramsey said inflation is affecting the system along with the ongoing need to increase compensation for university staff.

“We do understand that inflation is hurting our students. It’s also hurting our campuses. Our campuses are struggling now more than ever but as a board and as a system we are committed to making education affordable for all students,” said Ramsey.

Western Carolina University Chancellor Kelli Brown wrapped up the meeting by thanking board.

“It’s been great to show off the university and people have talked about the greater hospitality at the university. This is how we do it at Western Carolina University and how we do it in Western North Carolina,” said Brown.

The next UNC Board of Governors meeting is May 26th in Chapel Hill.

Lilly Knoepp serves as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina. She is a native of Franklin, NC who returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.
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