This will be one tough balancing act for McNeese State University President Philip Williams. And the net below isn’t very friendly, either.

As state officials get ready to whack the budget, and with the biggest hits expected to be coming to high education, Williams and McNeese are bracing for the worst.

Not sure if hoping for the best will be any help right now.

While no decision on the state’s budget is expected anytime soon, high education officials have been preparing for what is believed to be yet another round of substantial cuts.

It has happened before, but some are expecting a possible drop in help from the state by up to 40 percent.

McNeese and the other state schools have been through this before and always found a way to survive, just like the school did following Hurricane Rita.

It is not the best of situations for a school like McNeese, which offers a good education to students mainly from the local area, but it is something that Williams and his group are prepared to tackle head on.

That is all they really can do.

This as the demand for higher education continues to rise from the public.

But how Williams finds a way to both continue to grow with the local population and not lose ground because of budget cuts will be his greatest challenge.

“A number of administrative functions and academic departments have been consolidated, and we continue to ask fewer employees to do more,” Williams told the American Press. “Our focus will be on our educational mission and some services outside of classroom instruction may be affected. Any additional loss of state funding may result in greatly reduced or delayed administrative services.”

In other words he will try to keep as many balls in the air as he can juggle before the winds of financial change blow them away.

What is strange for many to understand is McNeese’s problems, along with the rest of the colleges and universities in Louisiana, are again coming at a time when there is a great amount of talk about the area’s bright economic future. It is because of this expected economic boom that Mc-Neese State is ripe for good times. More than ever before the university is needed to help locally growing companies fill their needs for educated workers. And never before has the public had an opportunity to get a quality education and have so many chances at working good jobs for good pay while staying close to home. Unfortunately, with everything appearing to be so close the truth is the school’s future might be in the hands of others, along with higher education all over the state. A key for this university will be to find a way to tap into that economic growth and come up with new sources of revenue. McNeese State officials have already shown a willingness to try new things and make new partnerships. If not, higher education in the state and in our area might be changed for some time to come. One thing will remain: McNeese itself no matter what, according to Williams. “McNeese will be transformed, but the university will remain vibrant and innovative as we develop new models for delivering quality education and student services with a personal touch,” Williams said. We can only hope that he and other higher education leaders in the state are able to find a way to balance their books so that student can keep reading theirs.