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Nicholls State University has been continuously accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – Commission on Colleges since 1964 and continues to be so. In order to maintain this accreditation status, the university must submit both five and ten year reports documenting compliance with its Principles of Accreditation. The five year report is a new addition to the accreditation requirements and Nicholls’ first report was submitted in March 2012, following the 10-year report submitted in 2006 which heeded a reaffirmation of accreditation with no recommendations.

Nicholls State is respectful of the accreditation review process as it allows it to continually assess its progress relative to peer institutions. Nicholls has recently learned that the five year report has resulted in a “warning” from its accrediting agency because the report did not provide enough evidence that Nicholls (1) employs an adequate number of full-time faculty to fulfill its mission and (2) identifies expected outcomes, assesses student achievement, and provides evidence of improvement in the area of educational programs and student learning.

Although we in south Louisiana are very familiar with the seriousness of “warnings” during hurricane season, it must be noted that a “warning” is the less serious of the two sanctions that may be levied against an institution during early stages of review. Preliminary information indicates additional documentation is needed for the number of full-time faculty members needed to support the university’s mission and the expected student-learning outcomes related to educational programs. Although Nicholls is required to submit a monitoring report by the end of 12 months, the administration will address the issue immediately upon further clarification from SACS-COC. The university looks forward to receiving greater specificity from SACS regarding this warning later this month.

It is important to note that Nicholls State University’s accreditation remains intact. Administration views this warning as an opportunity to more closely review its compliance with accepted accrediting practices – especially in light of the fact that the 10-year report will be submitted in 2016. We are confident our administration, faculty and staff will demonstrate Nicholls’ ability to meet challenges and continuously improve as a result of these challenges.

As the current academic year comes to a close, I will mark two milestones, one of which I would be just as happy to ignore and the second for which I am quite proud. On May 31, I will turn 69 and on July 1, I will celebrate my tenth anniversary in the presidency of Nicholls State University.

It seems hard to believe that Becky and Steve Hulbert came to south central Louisiana and, more specifically, to Nicholls State University ten years ago this summer. We specifically recall the occasion because of the unique welcome Mother Nature had waiting for us; the university was preparing to close in response to the arrival of Tropical Storm Bill. I guess we should have taken that event as an omen of what was to come, at least weather wise!

Ten years later, together as members of this university family, we have faced five or more named storms, a few of which resulted in extensive interference in the life of the university. Additionally, we have faced the man made impacts of the oil spill and the cumulative financial disruption of the past six years.

However, barring these unforeseen events, the past ten years have also been a time of extraordinary growth and maturity for Nicholls State University and the Nicholls family. Together we have seen strong academic programs mature significantly, the university successfully transition to selective admissions, partnerships developed with the technical-community college sector, and major improvements undertaken and accomplished throughout campus services and facilities.

All of this has been accomplished through the collaboration of this university’s strong, competent, dedicated, and hard working faculty and staff. And, in achieving these accomplishments, we have been greatly supported by the University’s many alumni and friends from the broader community.

With all of that said, the last six years have been a time of significant turmoil and transition. Budget cuts by a government that has provided little leadership to education have left all education sectors vulnerable to the impact of the accumulated damage done. That we have persevered and even at times flourished is due simply to the hard work of faculty and staff and the support of our alumni and friends.

All of the above leads to what many of you have known was coming. And that is my decision to retire from the presidency of Nicholls, effective August 1, 2013. The timing of that transition will permit the Board of Supervisors of the University of Louisiana System to conduct a search for my successor. It will also permit me and my senior administrative colleagues to represent the university throughout the 2013 General Legislative Session and to prepare the university’s resulting 2013-14 Operating Budget.

Please know that I have been honored to serve in the Nicholls presidency. My commitment to Nicholls remains absolute now and in the future. While I will not participate in any way in the search process to select my successor, I will offer my total support for a smooth transition of leadership that is in the best interest of the university and the students it serves. And Becky and I will always value the friendships, love, and support that the Nicholls family gave us during our stay with and among the wonderful people of South Louisiana.

TO: Faculty and Staff

RE: Spending Freeze

At the beginning of the fiscal year I sent out an email describing the 2012-2013 budget situation and the effects that reduced state support was going to have on the university. In that email, one of the initiatives that I described was reduced operating budget allocations for all but mandated and absolutely critical travel, supplies, equipment and other operating expenditures. While expenditures have been monitored and all departments have done a tremendous job of curtailing expenditures during the year, some important spending has still been allowed as long as it was within budget. However, as we attempt to prepare for the uncertainty of the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2013, we find ourselves at a point where a full or even a more intense spending freeze must be implemented.

Since almost all of our self-generated revenue for this year has been received, as expenditures increase, the amount of Academic Enhancement Funds (or reserve funds as some call it) needed to balance the budget also increases. In order to retain as high an Academic Enhancement Funds balance as possible for next fiscal year when those dollars will be needed the most, the current fund balance available must be preserved. Therefore, effective with this notification, all non-essential or non-emergency purchases for the remainder of the fiscal year are subject to a spending freeze. Only requests for essential type expenditures or emergency purchases should be submitted. All requests for non-essential or non-emergency purchases should not be sent forward as they will not be approved. This includes P-Card purchases.

This spending freeze shall be spread across the Operating budget and all Auxiliaries, including Athletics. The freeze to Auxiliaries is to allow its unallocated fund balance to increase as much as possible in the event these funds are needed to fill in any shortfalls that might occur in the future. The spending freeze does not apply to grants or restricted accounts.

All funds will be subject to the annual university spending deadline that will be announced soon by the Purchasing Department.

TO: Faculty and Staff

Happy New Year and welcome back to campus! I hope you had a wonderful and relaxing holiday break and have returned rejuvenated and ready to welcome the thousands of students that will arrive on campus for the first day of classes, Wednesday, January 23.

Last semester we once again demonstrated what a resilient, self-reliant and generous campus community we are. Faced with declining enrollment, our academic affairs team rose to the challenge by launching several new enrollment opportunities – Nicholls Online, a maritime management degree concentration and a masters of science degree in nursing.

Due to a variety of funding solutions and a successful collaboration between the facilities and institutional advancement folks, we were able to move forward with critical campus improvement projects despite a decrease in state support. The Rec Center opened its doors; Calecas Hall was refurbished; and the Soccer Complex and Guidry Stadium projects were completed.

I continue to be so very proud and humbled by the generosity of our faculty and staff. You shared your time, money and talent with such worthy causes – Nicholls CAN! Project distributed more than 12,500 items to area food banks; and the “Nicholls, We Care” United Way campaign raised money that will help surely thousands of residents in our region.

This semester promises to be equally as busy and eventful, and I know for sure that we will continue to move forward as a result of our talented team of professionals. Spring 2013 will bring with it new academic opportunities as we continue to meet the evolving needs of our students and facility upgrades as we break ground on the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute and begin renovation of the Mary M. Danos Theater.

New initiatives that started as innovative ideas just months ago will begin to take a foothold this spring, and we will see growth and progress as a result. Do you have ideas on how we can grow and evolve to help move our campus forward to meet the needs of our students? If so, I encourage you to share them with your supervisor or with me at my monthly Bend the President’s Ear gatherings. It’s true; we are a campus of People Creating Possibilities. Get involved, take a leadership role and help move Nicholls forward. Together we can!

Best wishes to all for a successful and fulfilling semester.

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