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Nicholls submits budget cut proposal

THIBODAUX – In compliance with the recently mandated cuts to higher education, the administration of Nicholls State University has submitted its initial budget reduction plan to the University of Louisiana System.

Nicholls has been instructed to cut $1,456,276 of the remaining 2008-09 budget.

“All of us at Nicholls understand the university’s obligation to support state efforts to eliminate the $341 million projected deficit,” said Dr. Stephen T. Hulbert, university president. “It is only unfortunate that higher education, which represents 4.5 percent of the state budget, must absorb 16 percent of the $341 million figure.”

Expenditures in travel, supplies and capital outlay are designated among the most significant reductions. Travel has been reduced by $125,000 – $40,000 for in-state travel and $85,000 for out-of-state travel. Supplies have been reduced by $221,454, including $50,000 for fuel, $99,852 for educational supplies and $71,602 for additional supplies. Capital outlay has been reduced by $175,000, including $110,000 for library and scientific equipment, $50,000 for library reference material and $15,000 for general equipment.

As a result of the budget cuts, students will be affected primarily by decreases in course offerings and increases in class sizes – necessary to compensate for the decrease in adjunct faculty funding and the freezing of fulltime faculty and staff positions. Library acquisitions and operating hours, other lab hours, employment opportunities and scholarship offerings will be reduced as well, along with funding for Quality Enhancement Plan initiatives, the Louisiana Center for Women and Government and the Louisiana Center for Dyslexia and Related Learning Disorders. The reductions may also inhibit the university’s ability to meet certain recommendations of accreditation agencies.

Regarding the effect of the proposed cuts on campus employees, the Nicholls administration has attempted to preserve positions and pay. No personnel reductions are expected at this time, but vacant positions remain frozen – a decision that was made in late 2008, prior to the initiation of the budget cuts, to counteract hurricane expenses and the resulting loss of revenue.

The required budget adjustments are being implemented at this time and affect all areas of the university’s operating budget, as well as that of athletics. Because of lost game guarantees and other areas of revenue generation resulting from cancelled football competitions as well as increased athletic program costs in general, athletics is undergoing a budget reduction of $471,195 to ensure a balanced operating condition by the June 30 fiscal year end.

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