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Financial Challenges

TO:    The University Community

Over the past several months, I have held open forums with faculty and staff groups alike in an effort to share available information regarding the evolving financial crisis facing Louisiana’s colleges and universities.  In truth, all that I have been able to say is that there are many more unknowns than knowns regarding state appropriation support for the 2010-2011 fiscal year ahead, little less that for 2011-2012.

However, what is known is that if the State’s Executive Budget for 2010-2011 proceeds as proposed, Nicholls State University will have a total of $7.9 million in ARRA or federal stimulus dollars supplanting recurring state appropriation dollars.  As importantly, those federal dollars are set to expire on June 30, 2011.  The university’s budget for 2011-2012 that takes effect on July 1, 2011, would then require new revenues to support the federal dollars and/or program reductions to eliminate the $7.9 million decline in budget support.

Since July 1, 2008, and the onset of the 2008-2009 fiscal year, Nicholls has faced four budget cuts amounting to a total of $7.29 million, from a $35.95 million state appropriation base to a current appropriation of $28.66 million, for a combined reduction of 20.3 percent in state support.

Accompanying this communication, you will find a summary statement regarding the impact of the budget cuts.

A review of that statement will show that the dollar loss of the federal stimulus support will reduce the state appropriation support to $20.73 million; a total decrease of $15.2 million or 42.3 percent since July 1, 2008.

To date, the impact of the four budget cuts and attached program reductions has been felt by relatively small numbers of students.  The loss of valued faculty and staff colleagues and the assumption of additional teaching and administrative work load by the remaining employees have not been felt beyond the individuals affected.

What lies ahead before Louisiana finds the true bottom of its financial challenges is totally unknown.  However, it would be irresponsible for us not to prepare as best we may to address the further loss of state appropriation support.

To that end, we have continued the data collection and planning effort initiated last year when Nicholls became the first Louisiana public university to make significant program reductions.  Additionally, I have now directed the vice presidents and deans to work across affected staff to consider program and related budget reductions that may need to be considered in the event that the full loss of federal stimulus dollars is not supplanted by other resources by July 1, 2011.  That process will also encourage program efficiencies to generate new dollar savings and thereby mitigate the extent of possible program changes.

The initial stage of the planning review is scheduled for completion by May 28, 2010.  As planning and final decision making moves forward throughout the summer months and into the fall semester, steps will be taken to engage student, staff, and faculty leadership in that process.

As always, I will keep you informed as to changing conditions.

Download: Nicholls Budget Reduction History – April 2010 (PDF)

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