CHAPEL HILL -- More than two dozen political, business and educational leaders from across the state gathered at the Spangler Center in Chapel Hill to begin working on a plan aimed at guiding the UNC system into the future.
The UNC Advisory Committee on Strategic Directions is creating a plan that will guide the university system between 2013 and 2018 and change what students are learning and how resources are divided.
Some frustrated students attended the meeting and sent the committee a letter voicing their concerns over a lack the lack of student voice on the committee.
"We're there day in and day out. without us the university wouldn't exist,” said UNC-Chapel Hill senior Alanna Davis. “And having that voice is imperative."
The committee's one student member promises to represent his fellow students.
"I think the most important thing, as students, that we'd like to preserve is the accessibility and the affordability at one of the UNC system schools,” said Kevin Kimball, the UNC-Chapel Hill student representative on the Committee on Strategic Directions.
UNC President Tom Ross said he plans to include faculty and students in the process.
"That's one thing about this university, has always been bi-partisan, has always taken into account lots of different views and lots of different perspectives," said Ross.
Some committee goals include keeping tuition and fees low, developing degree attainment goals that meet current and future workforce needs and making the state more globally competitive.
"The economy is changing and we've got to figure out how do we prepare students to live in that world and to live in our new economy,"said Ross.
House Speaker Thom Tillis said the process puts North Carolina in a position to align the K-12, community college and university systems.
"Most importantly, putting them in a position where they're more likely to get a job and use the skills that they've obtained as they've gone to higher institutions," said Tillis, a Republican. "Clearly the needs are varied across the state. It's not one size fits all. And that's one of the things that I hope comes out of this process."
The committee plans to finish its plan in mid-January around the time legislators convene in Raleigh for session. Lawmakers will have to give the plan a final stamp of approval.