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Budget Reduction Initiative

TO:    Faculty and Staff

It has been more than a week since the Jindal Administration submitted its 2009-10 Executive Budget to the legislature and, in doing so moved to cut higher education by $219 million.  As part of administrative strategy, the total higher education allocation was assigned to the Board of Regents, with the charge that the Regents allocate the revenues, or shall we say, the budget reduction across the state’s two and four year institutions.

Over the past seven days, I have awaited formal guidance of some sort from either the Board of Regents or our own University of Louisiana System.  I have now heard from Dr. Randy Moffett, President of the University of Louisiana System, providing the general direction that we move to plan against the lower 15.8 percent budget reduction figure that was provided in January.

To that end, a two pronged participatory process is being undertaken involving faculty, staff and student leadership.  First, Dr. Carroll Falcon, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, has initiated a review of academic programs through Faculty Senate.  This process will permit faculty comment and suggestions against a defined set of planning criteria and a very brief response period.

At the same time, each of the administrative divisions will undertake a review of all administrative and student support services.  That review will include Intercollegiate Athletics, the academic centers, Upward Bound and the overall organizational structure of the University.  Representatives of constituent groups, the Student Government Association, Faculty Senate, the Unclassified Staff Advisory Council, and the Classified Staff Advisory Committee, will be invited to offer comments and advice during this review.

Several weeks ago the University introduced a question and answer vehicle at http://www.nicholls.edu/president/your-questions-answered, as a means of inviting students, faculty, and staff alike to make inquiries and to ask questions.  I encourage use of this communication vehicle, especially as it relates to cost containment and/or efficiency measures.
You may have learned through media coverage that the Jindal Administration’s cut to higher education amounts to 7.7 percent.  However, if one considers just state appropriation, and that has been the means of comparison in past years, the cut is 15.8 percent.  It becomes a 19.7 percent reduction against that of 2008-09 when one takes into account the 4.6 percent mid-year cut of January 2009.

Like many of you with whom I have spoken over the past week and more, I too, cannot believe that “at the end of the day” the Jindal Administration and/or the state legislature will implement such a drastic and damaging reduction in support of higher education, its people, programs and services.  This is especially the case when one listens to the leaders of the state talk about their continuing commitment to economic and workforce development, and to holding higher education to the established standards of performance and accountability, i.e. higher graduation rates and shorter lengths of time to graduation, among others.

In any event, as the time is short before the beginning of the new fiscal year on July 1, 2009, specific measures now have to be taken and, in very short order, in order to consider budget reductions at all levels across the academic program and the administrative support services.  Only in this way will we protect the academic integrity of the university and best serve its students and staff.

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