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HomeHigher EducationUNC Greensboro administrator resigns in protest of planned academic cuts

UNC Greensboro administrator resigns in protest of planned academic cuts

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Dive Brief: 

  • An administrator at University of North Carolina at Greensboro is stepping down to protest the way the public institution is going about eliminating 19 academic offerings. 
  • In a resignation letter made public, Charles Bolton, associate dean of UNCG’s College of Arts and Sciences and interim head of its anthropology department, accused university officials of not being transparent in how they determined which programs they plan to cut. UNCG is seeking to drop a range of undergraduate and graduate offerings, including bachelor’s degrees in anthropology and religious studies. 
  • Bolton accused Debbie Storrs, the university’s provost, of pressuring John Kiss, the College of Arts and Sciences’ dean, to add certain programs to the list of those up for elimination — despite them meeting administrators’ expectations. University spokesperson Kimberly Osborne did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. 

Dive Insight: 

UNCG administrators indicated in late 2022 that the university would need to drop academic programs to fend off a financial crisis. One was imminent, officials said, in part because of slipping enrollment.

The university’s headcount fell from 20,106 students in fall 2018 to 17,743 in fall 2023, a roughly 12% drop.

Earlier this month, UNCG officials released the list of programs up for elimination, saying they would tell the campus on Feb. 1 which ones they would ultimately cut. 

Bolton wrote in his resignation letter that a few of those programs — the bachelor’s in anthropology, a master’s in mathematics, and a couple of foreign language offerings — were not put on the list in a “fair, transparent, and collaborative way.”

He said specifically the anthropology and mathematics degrees had met officials’ expectations in the rubric they developed to help determine the program cuts. Bolton also said the College of Arts and Sciences Budget and Planning Committee did not recommend these programs be eliminated. 

He accused Kiss of bowing to pressure from the provost to add these programs to the discontinuation list in order to save other offerings from being considered for elimination. 

“You agreed to the discontinuation of the MA in Mathematics in the hope that the provost would not follow through on her desire to eliminate the Ph.D. in Mathematics,” Bolton wrote to Kiss. “And yet, that program has now also been recommended for discontinuation, justified by the provost in part by the ‘decision’ you made to discontinue the MA in Mathematics.”

Bolton wrote that his resignation will take effect at the end of May to allow time for the university to pick his replacement. 

UNCG students and faculty have also publicly protested potential cuts, including in a rally this week.

Moreover, some faculty have refuted that the university is in financial turmoil. 

A separate program audit in October, commissioned by the campus chapter of the American Association of University Professors, concluded the university was financially sound.

University leadership pushed back on the audit’s findings last year. 

Other public and private nonprofit colleges nationwide have already announced cutbacks this year. 

The University of Connecticut is looking to scale back operating support budgets for academics and administration by 15% over the next five years, to counter a projected $70 million deficit. And Pennsylvania State University said recently it would cut nearly $100 million from its fiscal year 2026 budget.



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