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Employee Forum Chair Charles Streeter with delegates Kirk Montgomery and Yvonne Dunlap. Photograph courtesy of Charles Streeter.

By Kirk Montgomery, Employee Forum delegate, and Katie Turner, Public Relations and Communications Committee chair

On March 25, delegates Yvonne Dunlap and Kirk Montgomery visited the North Carolina legislature for University Day. Each year, representatives from the UNC system meet with legislators and hear comments from the Governor about the importance of higher education to the state’s economy. Forum Chair Charles Streeter and Chair of the Faculty Bruce Cairns also attended.

The morning session took place at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences where university representatives heard comments from Speaker Tim Moore, UNC General Administration COO Charlie Perusse and Senator Tom Apodaca. All expressed their sincere appreciation for the UNC system and its impact on the state’s economy. Perusse reported that the fiscal outlook for the coming year is optimistic, and while personal income tax collections are not as high as expected, corporate and franchise collections have increased. He noted that the 2014-15 revenue shortfall projections have decreased from $220 million to $158 million.

Senator Apodaca said that the Senate will hear a bill that would require local school systems to reimburse community colleges and universities for graduates from their system schools who require remedial courses upon attendance at their college or university.

The morning session wrapped up with an address by Governor Pat McCrory. He reflected on the purpose of universities in general and how they ought to serve society. He stressed the importance of higher education for helping citizens reach their full potential. He emphasized that universities should not provide remedial learning opportunities and that universities should invest in students who are ready for college. Governor McCrory said that universities should not be places where students are indoctrinated, but rather taught a diversity of opinions as part of growing and maturing.

Governor McCrory said that his vision for North Carolina universities is to amend the curriculum to offer course subjects that help students develop employable skills. He would like to reduce administrative overhead and expand online education, while also focusing on improving infrastructure and efficiency. He said that incentives should be provided to universities that place students in jobs where there is a high demand for new employees with specialized skill sets.

In the afternoon, Employee Forum delegates, faculty, students and members of the Carolina Parents Council met with Senator Valerie Foushee (D-Orange, Durham) and Representatives John Fraley (R-Iredell County), Graig Meyer (D-Orange, Durham) and Verla Insko (D-Orange). The focus was primarily on faculty and staff retention and salary increases.

Watch Governor McCrory’s address below.

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