TO: The University Community
As I welcome faculty, staff and students back to the campus for the Spring Semester 2010, each of us remains keenly aware of the financial challenges that continue to plague Louisiana and, more specifically, its two and four year colleges and universities. In late December of 2009, the state announced yet another mid-year budget reduction for higher education, this time amounting to $83.9 million. For Nicholls, that cut was $1.64 million or approximately 5 percent of our state appropriation.
While last year’s mid-year budget reduction came as a surprise and caused considerable harm to the academic program and student services, this year we were better prepared and, in fact, had assumed that another budget reduction might take place. When we enjoyed an enrollment gain this fall, we “banked” those revenues and did not apply them against a significant back log of operating needs. Additionally, by holding vacant positions open since August 2009, the university has generated another $700,000 in savings. Yes, the university was hurt by not using these dollars, but we have covered the $1.64 million mid-year budget reduction without further interruption to academic programs and services that we faced a year ago.
I sincerely hope that over the remaining months of the 2009-10 academic year, we will not face significant operating surprises, such as the cold weather of the past weeks and the unanticipated repair costs attributed to those conditions. If all goes as we have planned, we will close the academic year without personnel or program cuts.
As I said before Faculty Institute and in meetings of the administrative staff and classified personnel, it is the faculty and staff who have helped get Nicholls through this difficult time. Everyone has stepped forward to assume additional responsibilities as positions have been eliminated or held open. This is clearly one of the reasons why Nicholls has evolved into the fine regional university it is today.
I cannot tell you what lies ahead, but I know that together we will continue to address the challenges and opportunities that will further define the role, scope, and mission of Nicholls State University into the future.
My best to each of you for a great spring semester 2010. I look forward to working with this fine faculty and staff in our shared effort of strengthening Nicholls State University.