UNC System President Tom Ross issued a statement today praising the NC State Senate’s Draft Budget for 2014-2015.

Here’s the text of Ross’s statement:

“The 2014-15 draft state budget released by the Senate Appropriations Committee offers clear evidence that the North Carolina Senate understands the critical role our public universities must continue to play in North Carolina’s economic future.

“Given the needs facing the State, we are grateful that the Senate budget recognizes the need to invest in areas that are key to the future of the university, as highlighted in our strategic plan.

“We support the efforts of legislative leaders to fund salary increases for state workers and look forward to working with them to address compensation issues for University faculty and staff.

While the budget process is far from complete, the Senate budget marks an important step forward for our students and our State, and it demonstrates support that is crucial as the University strives to remain the most valuable asset owned by the people of North Carolina. “

The proposed budget provides a recurring $1,000 annual salary-and-benefit increase for all full-time employees subject to the State Personnel Act.

There’s also a push in the Senate for UNC to dissolve “small, unprofitable institutions” such as Elizabeth City State University, which has seen enrollment drop from 3,307 in 2011 to 2,421 students in 2013.

Eight-one-point-five percent of the school’s students are African-American.

WCHL has reached out to UNC System President Tom Ross for comment about Elizabeth City State, and we’ll keep you updated.

UPDATE: UNC Vice President for Communications Joni B. Worthington sent WCHL a follow-up email that reads:

“For clarification, this draft budget provision, which may or may not be included in the final state budget, would require the UNC Board of Governors to study the feasibility of dissolving any constituent institution that fell below a specified enrollment threshold and to report its findings and recommendations to the 2015 General Assembly.

“With respect to Elizabeth City State University, UNC General Administration is continuing to work with the campus to address budget challenges, stabilize and build enrollment, and tailor degree offerings to fit its current enrollment and regional needs.

“We consider ECSU a vital member of the UNC system and critical to northeastern North Carolina’s economic and cultural well-being. “