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Posted on Aug 29, 2014

NC State Opens Student Entrepreneurship Headquarters

The Entrepreneurship Initiative (EI) at North Carolina State University will host the grand opening of Innovation Hall, home to the EI Garage and the Andy and Jane Albright Entrepreneurs Living and Learning Village, on Tuesday, September 2 at 5:30 p.m. at Innovation Hall on Centennial Campus. Media coverage of the event is invited.

Innovation Hall sidebarThe event marks the opening of the first Living and Learning Village on Centennial Campus and the first named residential community at NC State—the result of a $500,000 gift from Andy Albright, co-founder and president/CEO of National Agents Alliance, and his wife Jane. Albright Entrepreneurs Village will provide students who have entrepreneurial interests with the opportunity to live, learn, and collaborate with like-minded peers.

“It is an honor to have the Living and Learning Village named after us,” Albright said. “We both have a heart for helping kids in many areas and this is just another way that we can express our commitment to future generations. From childhood to today, we have both been big fans of NC State and this is one way we can continue to show our loyalty to the Wolfpack.”

Entrepreneurship students and alumni will also be on hand in the EI Garage Sept. 2 to display their latest ventures and products, including a device to aid smoking cessation and a point-of-sale platform that makes donating to local schools and charities easy. The EI Garage is a business creation and prototyping space that has all of the resources students need to turn their ideas into successful start-ups.

“The opening of Innovation Hall is an important next step in creating a pervasive culture of entrepreneurship at NC State,” said Dr. Tom Miller, senior vice provost for academic outreach and entrepreneurship at the university. “It’s a collaborative living and working space where student entrepreneurs across the university will develop solutions to problems that affect our world.”

Innovation Hall is located at 381 Initiative Way in Raleigh.  Additional information about the grand opening is available at ei.ncsu.edu/grandopening.

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Posted on Aug 28, 2014

Raises, Budget Cuts on Faculty Agenda

NC State plans to give faculty and non-faculty EPA employees the same $1,000 pay raise the state legislature awarded SPA employees this year, despite the challenges of squeezing the funds from an already tight budget, Chancellor Randy Woodson told the Faculty Senate on Tuesday.

“There’s nothing more important than rewarding talent,” Woodson said at the senate’s first meeting of the academic year.

The chancellor added that, contingent on approval by the Board of Governors, the university will give deans and department heads additional funds – perhaps 2 percent – to reward high-performing employees and to smooth out inequities in pay.

“There will be raises; we’re working on the details,” he said. “The consensus is that we should give maximum flexibility to unit leaders. But it’s going to take us years to dig out from years of no salary increases.”

Paying for raises for EPA employees won’t be easy. Under the 2014-15 state budget, NC State must reduce its operating budget by $10 million. Add in the cost of raises for EPA employees, and the budget cut grows to about $23 million, the chancellor said.

As in previous years, the university likely will cut relatively more from administrative budgets and relatively less from academic programs. But after years of declining state appropriations, the university has run out of easy options for tightening its belt.

“Every department is going to struggle with this,” Woodson said.

Flush With Freshmen

The chancellor also reported that NC State overshot its enrollment target for the fall semester, welcoming a freshman class with about 200 more students than expected. The College of Engineering is “bursting at the seams,” he said.

In the College of Education, on the other hand, freshman enrollment is down 50 percent from last year, he said. And, for the first time, a majority of the college’s graduates are leaving North Carolina for jobs in other states.

New Theme for Year

Faculty chair David Zonderman, beginning the second of his two-year term, outlined his theme for 2014-15: renewing shared governance.

He praised NC State’s commitment to growing tenure-line faculty and encouraged more faculty members to speak up on important university issues.

“We have faced a lot of tough decisions in past few years and will likely face more,” he said. “The more faculty get involved early on, the better they will understand why tough decisions were made.”

Zonderman said he would propose a “modest reward structure for governance leadership” to encourage more faculty engagement in decision-making.

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Posted on Aug 28, 2014

New Tuition Rules Impact Financial Aid

NC State’s pool of resources for students who need help paying for their tuition is well-stocked for the moment, but when new guidelines adopted by the UNC Board of Governors kick in next year, some who search for financial aid could come up a little short.

The new guidelines, adopted in early August to be implemented for the 2015-16 academic year, will put a limit on tuition-funded financial aid and cap tuition increases at 5 percent annually.

New Limits

The financial aid limitations involve the portion of tuition increases that is set aside for students in need of financial assistance. Currently, more than 25 percent of all tuition increases are set aside for financial aid. The new cap is 15 percent.

According to Krista Domnick, director of the Office of Scholarship and Financial Aid, NC State currently exceeds the 15 percent cap for future funding, which means it cannot set aside additional tuition revenues for need-based financial aid until that threshold is no longer exceeded.

“NC State students are fortunate that the university has had a long-standing commitment to needy students and has invested in this important resource over time,” Domnick says. “So there’s a pool of funding still available to assist students in need. While additional revenues cannot be set aside at present, NC State continues to offer a quality but affordable education.”

For the 2013-14 academic year, about 69 percent of NC State students applied for financial aid and 53 percent demonstrated financial need, Domnick said. Those percentages won’t likely change, but there will likely be less money available for students with demonstrable financial need.

“The Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid has a capable and talented staff of professional financial aid counselors that continue to be available to help families understand the costs and identify resources to make an NC State education accessible for them,” Domnick says.

Capping Tuition Increases

The 5 percent cap on tuition increases will also go into effect for 2015-16, but that may not be the benefit to students that it seems, according to NC State student body president Rusty Mau. Over the last five years, tuition has increased by 44 percent while state spending per student has fallen by 13 percent. With a 5 percent annual raise in tuition prices, tuition will essentially double every 14 years.

“Our state will no longer be a leader in providing affordable higher education to its residents if we continue down this path,” Mau wrote in a June opinion piece in The News & Observer of Raleigh.

Mau, a Park Scholar who is pursuing a master’s degree in higher education finance, understands the economics of rising prices, but is troubled by the coinciding reductions in state funding.

“It’s a downward spiral we have already started,” Mau said in an interview.

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