Ask anyone how 2020 has stacked up to previous years, and chances are they’ll say it’s been like no other. Yet Carolina remains focused on its mission of teaching, research and service with excellence.
Development officers report that many donors are asking about the University’s finances and how they, as donors, can best help and make the biggest impact in this moment. The answer: please give to one of the many unrestricted fundsOpens in new window across campus.
Unrestricted funding ensures Carolina’s leaders have the resources in hand to address pressing needs and seize emerging opportunities, making an immediate impact for the betterment of our students, faculty and community. If current projections materialize, the campus could suffer a $200 million loss in revenue 2021.
“We don’t know what the future holds. Discretionary funds will allow us to address the repercussions from COVID-19 that will likely continue to jeopardize other revenue streams in the next few years,” said Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz. “Historically, there has not been a great deal of emphasis placed on the importance of flexible funding, and now is the time to change that. Now is the time to really lean into the need for unrestricted funding to ensure Carolina’s future.”
There are many unrestricted funds that donors can support to advance their particular affiliations with Carolina. These gifts are more critical now than ever, as leaders across campus cope with challenges brought on by the pandemic.
At a recent panel discussion, several campus leaders described how increased unrestricted funding to their area would relieve the growing pressure to meet immediate needs.
“Additional unrestricted current giving is the absolute most important thing for us right now,” said Rick Steinbacher, UNC Athletics’ senior associate director, capital projects and facilities. “What is at risk for us is what we are most proud of. It’s the opportunities we offer our student athletes.”
Joseph Jordan echoed that sentiment. “Those unrestricted funds make an immediate impact,” said Jordan, the interim vice provost for academic and community engagement and director of the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History. “They mean that the Carolina Center for Public Service would be able to continue to interact with people around the state who are using individuals from the University to support themselves as they try to advance their communities and needs. The Carolina Women’s Center would be able to work more effectively, efficiently and consistently with units in and around Chapel Hill and this part of North Carolina. It also means that the Carolina Higher Education Opportunity Program would serve those young people who come to the University with dreams of being Tar Heels at some point in the near future.”
Dean Terry Rhodes of the College of Arts & Sciences said unrestricted funding is essential to “faculty startups, faculty retention funding, graduate student top-up support, and some of the most important initiatives like the Chancellor’s Science Scholars. There are a number of areas where it would really help us immensely.”
Katie Ziglar, director of the Ackland Art Museum, told audience members the museum expects to receive a third of the unrestricted funding it budgeted for 2020. That deficit presents a daunting challenge. With the museum closed to visitors, they must reimagine how to share the Ackland’s rich collection with thousands of students, faculty and community members. The lack of unrestricted funds will jeopardize that effort.
Ziglar isn’t alone her predicament, said David Routh, vice chancellor of university development.
“In this particular time, unrestricted gifts from private support donors are some of the most valuable monies that a unit leader, a dean or a chancellor can have,” Routh said. “As we approach the time of year when folks start to consider year-end giving, I hope people will consider giving unrestricted gifts — either to The Carolina Fund or a school or unit’s unrestricted fund. Our leaders are facing difficult decisions and having these unrestricted dollars will help them act strategically when making those decisions.”