By 2030, we want UNC Asheville to have a sustainable enrollment of 3,800 to 4,000 students drawn to and supported by our commitment to the vision of an innovative public liberal arts and sciences university of the future known for its student-centered focus, hands-on learning, technology-driven solutions, and career-ready emphasis.

university quad

Budget Deficit

Part of this forward-looking effort involves addressing a current budget deficit created by enrollment declines over the past five years that have negatively impacted our financial position.

Phillips Hall

Setting the Record Straight: UNC Asheville’s 2024 budget deficit and next steps

The immediate issue, short and longer-term actions, and answers to key questions


A PowerPoint presentation prepared by our Budget and Finance Office also offers helpful information:


Chancellor's Updates
For more information, please review messages shared with the campus community by Chancellor Kimberly van Noort.

Because Dr. van Noort is committed to clarity and transparency about the budget efforts, this page will be updated frequently as new Chancellor Updates become available.

Dear Campus Colleagues,

With regret, I write to share that the University has formalized a limited number of employee separations as we continue broader efforts to stabilize our finances. My Update this week is longer than usual to detail this news, recap overall cost-management efforts, and preview next steps as challenging circumstances persist.

I’m deeply disappointed that a reduction in force was necessary to help the University address a projected budget deficit in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. We didn’t want to part with any of our valued colleagues, and we pursued every avenue to reduce the number affected in this difficult period.

Our efforts involved a careful, campus-wide study of all our positions, allowing us to curb the number of employees facing separation. For the time being, we left open certain positions as people retired or departed for other opportunities. In other cases, we reassigned some people to different positions, and suspended or eliminated some unfilled roles, at least for the short term. In the process, we achieved substantial savings that helped us retain many of our colleagues.

Needing additional cuts, we identified 12 active staff positions in Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, and the Office of the Chancellor for discontinuation. Staff members holding affected positions in these units received separation notices this week. As a community that values care and compassion, we are extending them practical resources — including benefits support, help with resumes and job searches, and other assistance.

I’m grateful to and for each of these members of our community and for their many enduring contributions to UNC Asheville.

Recognizing the significance of this moment, the University has made counseling and related services available to all faculty and staff. Those services are available through Human Resources at 828-251-6605 and online through the Employee Assistance Program.

As painful as these separations are, it’s important that we understand them in the context of the University’s financial reality and our extensive efforts to contain costs, minimize impacts on the workforce and student experience, and plan a more resilient future. 

A roughly 25 percent enrollment decline over the past five years and outmoded budgeting practices contributed to budget-deficit projections of $6 million for the current fiscal year and some $8 million for the next. To prevent these unsustainable gaps and begin setting a firmer financial and programmatic foundation, we’re taking a four-step approach:

  1. Tighten our immediate spending practices and contain any effect on faculty, staff, and overall operations. We focused tirelessly on this step over the past several months. Among our measures, we have indefinitely held open vacant positions, reduced travel costs, drawn more on trust and endowment funds when possible, and created a Fall 2024 academic schedule that relies heavily on permanent faculty.
  2. Identify and finalize a limited number of employee separations, as necessary. This is the step we completed, with regret, this week. 
  3. Evaluate the University’s portfolio of academic programs.
  4. Monitor enrollment and financial trends ahead of Fall 2025 and begin longer-term planning and visioning work. This step will continue from the spring into the fall. Our enrollment on August 30 — census day — will determine if we need additional adjustments at that point. 

I know how incredibly difficult this is. As educators, we focus our energies and talents on growth. We never want to be in a position of scaling back and should seek to avoid employee separations to the greatest extent possible.

Unfortunately, colleges and universities across the country are facing a range of financial pressures. We detail some of ours on the Asheville 2030 webpage. As we explored cost-management options, it became clear that reducing our workforce is an unavoidable part of our path to operational sustainability.

Going forward, we’re determined to strengthen the University through a long-range strategy and growth. Asheville 2030 is our comprehensive effort to engage the community in visioning this future. The work has begun with a survey — still available — and will eventually feature a series of community conversations. As we’ve noted, by 2030 we want a sustainable enrollment of 3,800 to 4,000 students drawn to — and supported by — our commitment to the vision of an innovative public liberal arts and sciences university of the future.

When opportunities to participate in the visioning process emerge, please join in. Our planning will be only as good as the extent of the community’s participation.

For today, I hope you’ll join me in thanking those directly affected by our reduction in force. We value all their contributions to our community and to our students.

Thank you for your support and for your dedication.

Sincerely,

Kimberly van Noort, Ph.D.
Chancellor

Dear Campus Colleagues,

The rhythms of campus life always seem to move faster than we expect. As of today, we’re just a little more than a month away from the conclusion of our spring term — and our academic year. Finals will wrap up May 8, with Commencement following on May 11.

I’m so looking forward to joining you as we honor the hard work and accomplishments of our newest graduates. As part of the Commencement celebration, we’ll award three honorary degrees (see the news release here). Our honorees all live locally: 

  • Oscar Wong, known as “the Godfather of Asheville craft beer,” who founded the Highland Brewing Company in 1994
  • David Holt, the well-known Grammy and Emmy award-winning musician and television host featured on series such as “Folkways,” “Great Scenic Railway Journeys,” and “Fire on the Mountain”
  • Walter Ziffer, an author, Holocaust survivor, and former Mars Hill University faculty member who wrote “Confronting the Silence: A Holocaust Survivor’s Search for God

The accomplishments achieved by these remarkable members of the broader Asheville community represent resilience, dedication, and purpose — pillars worth celebrating as our graduates forge ahead.

In other developments on campus, our Osher Lifelong Learning Institute this month became part of the Office of the Chancellor, with Executive Director Catherine Frank reporting to me directly. I made these adjustments to integrate the Institute and its members, many of whom are retirees, even more integrally into the life of the University. 

There’s so much that all of us — students, faculty, and staff — can learn from OLLI members’ experience, skills, and wisdom. Lifelong learning is a cornerstone of a liberal arts and sciences education, and we should lean into the inspired examples offered by the lifelong learners, problem-solvers, global citizens, and change-makers at the heart of the Institute.

On a final note for this week, I expect to share soon our next steps for addressing the deficit in our current fiscal year, which ends June 30. We continue to take every step to minimize…

Dear Campus Colleagues,

After a robust and inclusive selection process, I’m delighted to share that Yvonne Villanueva-Russell will join UNC Asheville on July 1 as our new provost. We’ll be announcing the news later this afternoon, but I want you to hear it from me first.

Dr. Villanueva-Russell’s impressive and varied background positions her exceptionally to bring insightful guidance across the institution. As detailed in our forthcoming public announcement, she has worked extensively in program development, having collaborated with the Stanford Life Design Lab. She also taught sociology for many years, supervised undergraduate research, and has centered innovation throughout her career.

I’m thrilled to welcome Yvonne to campus and look forward to her academic leadership. Please read today’s complete announcement, available online here.

This important hiring concludes an aggressive search we announced December 19. The effort drew an impressive candidate pool and would have been impossible without the search committee, whose members put in long hours to identify several provost finalists who recently visited campus. I extend my thanks to all the committee members — in particular to Professor of Music Brian Felix, the committee co-chair, and to everyone who met with the finalists and provided feedback.

We owe a debt of gratitude, too, to Dr. Herman Holt for his stewardship of Academic Affairs over the past year and for his constant devotion to student success. His 25-year UNC Asheville career — as a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and recently as dean of special and graduate programs — is an inspired example of our work at its best. Herman, thank you. 

Meanwhile, on the operations front, we continue to evaluate and determine measures to address our deficit for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. We hope that expected reductions in spending and staffing will be a one-time event. But it’s important to note that our enrollment numbers on August 30 — our census day — will determine if we need additional adjustments.

We’ve also begun budgetary discussions for fiscal year 2025. These conversations are prioritizing budget targets that will enable strategic planning across campus in the next academic year. 

As you know, the Asheville 2030 visioning process is a cornerstone of our planning approach. I’m pleased to announce here that Kirk Swenson, the University’s vice chancellor for advancement, has agreed to lead that visioning effort…

Dear Campus Colleagues,

As we resume our routines and rhythms following Spring Break, I want to take just a few minutes to address some misperceptions gaining attention on campus.

First, it’s important to reiterate that UNC Asheville is beginning a longer-range visioning plan that will bring together the entire community. We know higher education is changing. Together we must — and will — position the University to refine our essential work: uplifting and preparing students, investing in the future, and honing our focus and competitive edge. The Asheville 2030 survey represents early steps in this journey. 

While we can’t forecast the precise outcomes of the planning effort, key values of the University and our mission will not change. The liberal arts, for instance, will remain central to our identity. Pedagogical approaches that form the core of a liberal arts education are — and will stay — foundational to our teaching methods and to our place in the world. They are at the heart of what makes UNC Asheville distinctive and at the core of what will allow us to grow into the future. 

In fact, we often refer to our community as a public liberal arts and science university. This updated description reflects our true scope but doesn’t diminish our foundational commitment.

A key part of our decision-making process is ensuring that we maximize the role that our full-time teaching faculty play in course delivery. You may have heard speculation, too, around the University’s intentions for adjuncts and lecturer faculty. I want to be clear: We have not made any blanket decisions to phase out adjunct and lecturer faculty…

Dear Campus Colleagues,

You’ve heard a lot lately about our enrollment decline. It’s a big factor in UNC Asheville’s budget deficit. It’s also a challenge to our long-term health and strength as an innovative and vibrant institution.

Today I want to share our latest progress in efforts to reverse the trend. 

As you know, last fall we welcomed our largest incoming class of first-time students in four years — a real sign of promise. Now, with more students joining us, our headcount is up 71 over last spring to mark our second semester of stabilized enrollment. And recruitment efforts appear to be extending our momentum into fall 2024. 

Take the Admitted Student Day held this past weekend. Of 175 students who registered, 160 attended — a 91 percent turnout rate. That’s about 10 percent better than our average. Including families and friends, 422 total visitors came to campus Saturday. We’re already seeing commitments from students who attended. Our next Admitted Student Day is April 20.

At a top-line level, we surpassed last year’s record application numbers by 37 percent, with more than 7,600 applications to date. That’s enabled us to grow the number of admitted students for next fall by 65 percent…

Dear Campus Colleagues,

Especially in challenging times, it’s crucial that we have hard conversations. It’s just as important that we draw on our collective experiences and insight to tackle big problems.

These past couple weeks, the many budget-related meetings and listening sessions across campus have underscored UNC Asheville’s ability to meet this moment. The conversations are vital as we address our immediate budget deficit and set a model for longer-term planning. 

To everyone who has participated, including those who supported recent meetings with our parents, families, and Alumni and Foundation boards: Please know how much I appreciate your thoughtful and frank contributions. Thank you for joining in the process.

Following feedback from these sessions, we’ve added a Google Form to the Asheville 2030 webpage to solicit suggestions for cutting and saving costs, generating revenue, and otherwise fostering budget relief…

Dear Campus Colleagues,

Just a few times a year, our traditions give us a chance to celebrate together — as a community — the spirit, history, and future of UNC Asheville. 

In my book, Homecoming ranks right up there with Commencement as a true reflection of a university community’s character and impact. Hearing the stories of so many alumni as they returned to campus last week was an inspiration. Empowered by their education here, they’re making real, tangible differences in their communities.

It’s a living testament to the everyday hard work, innovation, and creativity that we all cherish. And it was a powerful reminder of our shared impact as educators, as learners, and as contributing members of a great legacy in higher education. Of course, Homecoming victories by many of our sports teams were icing on the cake!

To protect and strengthen our impact for the next generations, strategic change is a must…

Dear Campus Colleagues,

In my remarks at the February 6 Faculty and Staff Meeting, I noted the University’s ongoing work to establish a clear picture of our financial situation. This includes an anticipated $6 million deficit in the current fiscal year ending June 30 — a figure that will climb to $8 million next year if we don’t act soon.

Today, I am highlighting our process to curb the deficit this semester as we prepare UNC Asheville for a longer-term strategy and growth. Given the need to balance the budget this year, we will be taking these steps on an accelerated timeline.

Following my recent discussions with deans, the Faculty Senate, Staff Council, and the SGA president, we will begin a series of focused conversations next week with academic departments, scheduling meetings with faculty representatives for each program. More broadly, we will also be setting up several campus wide listening sessions for staff and students. I will share a more comprehensive calendar of dates and updates next week. 

Ideally, a more inclusive community process should inform decisions…

 Dear Campus Colleagues,

I am grateful for all the positive feedback from many of you about my previous Chancellor’s Update and the Opening Meeting remarks earlier this month. We must be collaborative and strategic as we chart our path forward, and your insights are an invaluable and necessary component.

These important conversations will continue in a number of formats over the coming weeks and months, and I look forward to our ongoing dialogue.

First, I have called for an all-campus meeting for faculty and staff on Tuesday, February 6 at 12 noon in the Blue Ridge Room. At this meeting, with the support of John Liposchak, our vice chancellor for budget and finance, we will provide a transparent overview of our current financial position and how we got here…

Dear Campus Colleagues,

Happy New Year! I hope everyone enjoyed a restful and relaxing holiday break that included valuable time spent with friends and family. With eager anticipation for all that 2024 will bring, I look forward to seeing everyone again soon and welcoming our students back to campus.

With the start of the new year, I remain grateful for the opportunity to serve as the ninth chancellor of UNC Asheville. In this role, I pledge my ongoing commitment to work collaboratively with all of you to provide the best possible learning experiences for our students, so they become wise leaders prepared to pursue successful and rewarding careers and live lives of meaning and impact. 

As well, I pledge to continue to bring clarity, honesty, and transparency to our collective work, along with a dedication to shared governance enhanced by engaged campus conversations about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

While we will begin an institutional planning process in the coming months, first and foremost we must remain absolutely focused on addressing the recent enrollment declines that negatively impact our financial position. As such, our strategic priorities for the foreseeable future will continue to involve student recruitment and retention.

The good news is that we are keeping the wind in our sails on both fronts…