BATON ROUGE – The University of Louisiana System is actively looking at approaches to contain costs and achieve academic programming efficiencies on several fronts. Through collaborative course and degree offerings and a newly established Cost Containment and Efficiencies Committee, the UL System hopes to streamline operations.
“Our universities have a history of working collaboratively through joint programs and sharing of resources,” said UL System President Randy Moffett. “We want to build upon that foundation, as we are good stewards of taxpayer dollars invested in our enterprises.”
Moffett has asked the eight university presidents to examine every aspect of their operations for possible efficiencies including academics where UL System institutions already collaborate on three advanced degree programs. These collaborations save resources through the sharing of faculty and expand course offerings for students. Below are a few examples.
McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette comprise the Intercollegiate Consortium for a Master of Science in Nursing. Created in 1986, this consortium allows students to enroll in courses at any of the participating universities and receive credit toward a master’s degree. Accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, the advanced nursing specialty tracks offered are nursing administration, nursing education, clinical nurse specialist, and nurse practitioner.
Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, and the University of Louisiana at Monroe established the Louisiana Education Consortium (LEC) in 1995 to offer a joint doctoral program in education. With specialization in either curriculum and instruction or educational leadership, the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree program has generated 85 graduates. Over two thirds of those graduates currently work in K-12 or higher education in Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas.
Southeastern and UL Lafayette also offer a joint doctoral program through the Consortium for Ed.D. in Educational Leadership. Established in 2006, the program will award its first degrees this May. In order for more efficient course delivery, each university has primary responsibility for certain program courses. Thus, those enrolled at Southeastern take seven courses offered by UL Lafayette, and UL Lafayette students take seven courses offered by Southeastern.
“We want to see more cooperative endeavors like these across our system. It’s good for the students in terms of expediting degree attainment; it’s good for faculty in terms of peer development; and it’s good for our state in terms of a higher educated citizenry and fiscal responsibility,” said Moffett.
Looking beyond academic collaborations, the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System recently established a Cost Containment and Efficiencies Committee. Initiated in December, the committee is researching how to build upon existing collaborations between campuses and pool resources to streamline costs. In the beginning stages of their work, the committee has already identified four ways to work collaboratively: ·
Energy – The committee is looking at the feasibility of purchasing electricity in bulk quantities for the UL System.
Credit Card Processing Fee – The committee is collecting information from the universities to explore ways to lower credit card processing fees.
Telecommunications – The committee is working with the Office of Telecommunications (OTM) to determine if there are ways to cut costs for local, long-distance, e-mail, and internet connections.
Health Care – The committee is exploring the feasibility of setting up a health care insurance network for UL System faculty, staff, and students and other options.
The Cost Containment and Efficiencies Committee, who is comprised of a representative from each of the eight universities appointed by the president and UL System office staff, meets each month. Board Member E. Gerald Hebert of Kenner serves as the committee’s liaison to the UL System Board.
“As a businessman I like to look at every side of a problem. We have a shrinking pool of money from which to operate our universities. There has to be a way we can leverage the buying power of eight large universities to streamline costs, and that is exactly what this cost containment committee is doing. Now, that’s good business,” said Hebert.