Many of you have raised questions and concerns about North Carolina Senate Bill 873, the “Access to Affordable Higher Education Act.” The bill has many interrelated parts, including a guaranteed tuition program across the UNC system and targeted reductions in tuition specifically at five institutions, including UNC Pembroke.
Access to higher education has been at the core of UNC Pembroke’s mission since its founding 129 years ago, so we welcome discussion about ensuring college is within reach for as many people as possible. However, we have raised questions regarding the implementation of SB 873, should it become law, as well as potential unintended effects on our campus, specifically regarding financial sustainability and the value of our brand.
I want you to know I remain in close contact with the General Assembly, UNC General Administration and my fellow Chancellors regarding the bill and its potential implications for UNCP. We participated in a productive meeting on Wednesday with several key legislators, including the bill’s primary sponsor. There is constructive dialogue occurring with the potential to shape this legislation into policy that could benefit our students, our campus, and our constituency.
I can’t stress enough the fluidity involved in the legislative process. Already SB 873 has been updated from its original form. The proposal has yet to be heard in the House, where if considered, additional revisions are possible. However as a result of our recent discussions, we feel very optimistic and encouraged the eventual legislation may result in a policy that will help UNCP build on our commitment to access and affordability while enhancing our value.
As Chancellor, I have encouraged our students, alumni, faculty and staff to participate in public policy conversations regarding higher education. I am heartened at the level of your engagement around SB 873 and your passion for the future of UNCP. If you would like to share your thoughts about the bill, please e-mail Justin Smith in the Chancellor’s Office at Justin.firstname.lastname@example.org. He will compile your feedback and make it available to legislators and others engaged in deliberations.
Yours in service,
Robin Gary Cummings