BATON ROUGE – During a professional development meeting today the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System expressed concern over severe budget cuts facing its eight universities and the immediate steps that must take place over the next two months to plan for Fiscal Year 2011-12.
With multiple budget cuts to higher education over the past two years, the UL System projects to have $77.3 million less state funding in FY 2010-11 than in FY 2008-09. A projected loss of $94.8 million in federal stimulus dollars the next year brings the operating deficit to $172.2 million or a 37 percent reduction. Click here for a break down by campus of those projections.
To date, campuses have laid off almost 500 employees, eliminated 600 positions, furloughed 800 people, eliminated over 300 courses and terminated 33 degree programs. According to UL System President Randy Moffett, campuses are continuing to plan for worst-case scenarios while hoping for revenue relief from the Legislature.
“These are monumental circumstances. You have to plan for the worst, but you don’t want to make the details of those plans public until it is clear you have to implement those tough decisions. Naming a program or department for possible elimination should the worst case happen essentially turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy as those faculty members, staff and students may begin to leave. However, we’re now approaching the point of no return,” said Moffett.
Board policies for program discontinuance currently require a one-year notice to be given to associated tenured and certain tenure-track faculty. In light of these timelines, the Board will discuss potential program discontinuances and/or reductions at its June 25 meeting and may need to schedule a special meeting in July to take associated action.
Moffett informed the Board that shutting down programs, whole departments and even multiple academic colleges may still not get our campuses to the potential shortfall.
“I think the university presidents have good plans, but you must remember that for every program you close you also lose associated tuition revenue. It’s not a dollar for dollar savings. I’m afraid we cannot meet an almost 40 percent reduction without very drastic changes,” said Moffett.
The UL System is the largest higher education system in the state with eight universities that enroll almost 82,000 students. The eight universities are Grambling, Louisiana Tech University, McNeese State University, Nicholls State University, Northwestern State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and ULM.