UNC governors to weigh center closings, tuition increases at Charlotte meeting

John Fennebresque, chairman of the UNC system Board of Governors
John Fennebresque, chairman of the UNC system Board of Governors

The UNC system Board of Governors is expected to make several controversial decisions this week when it meets in Charlotte for the first time in more than four decades.

The 32-member panel that oversees the state’s public universities is scheduled to vote Friday on a proposal to shut down several academic centers on campuses across the state. It also will decide on tuition increases that would raise rates by more than 3 percent.

Earlier this month, a board working group recommended closing three centers – the Center for Poverty, Work and Opportunity at UNC-Chapel Hill; East Carolina University’s Center for Biodiversity and N.C. Central University’s Institute for Civic Engagement and Social Change.

The recommendation has sparked widespread worries among UNC faculty about the state of academic freedom in North Carolina.

Tuition and fee increases are expected to be 4.3 percent across the campuses for the 2015-16 school year and 3.7 percent in 2016-17. They’ll generate an additional $44 million next year, and $47 million the year after that. Money raised is slated to go to faculty raises and more academic support for students.

The meeting should be held even if snow falls as expected overnight, UNC spokeswoman Joni Worthington said. The Board of Governors is not affected by the university’s decision to cancel Thursday morning classes.

The board is led by John Fennebresque, a Charlotte attorney elected to the position last year. He is a UNC-Chapel Hill alum and vice chairman of McGuireWoods.

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Twitter: @andrew_dunn