Nicholls responds to state budget cut

THIBODAUX – Mid-year budget reductions to higher education, mandated by the state, will total approximately $1.14 million for Nicholls State University – or 5.1 percent of its state general fund of $22.3 million.

The cut is the latest of a series which, beginning in 2008, has reduced state funding at Nicholls from $35.8 million to $22.3 million, or about 38 percent.

No layoffs or furloughs will result from the current cut, however, and the core academic mission of the institution will remain intact. Dr. Stephen T. Hulbert, university president, said an increase in self-generated funds, mainly tuition and fees, combined with the efforts of the governor and legislature to protect health care and education by using unspent state funds from other areas, has offset the total cut and lessened the severity of the effects.

The Nicholls administration has approached the latest reduction by keeping in mind that the academic mission of the university is of primary importance, that faculty and staff have already been reduced by about 100 persons over the last four years, and that no campus-wide pay increases have been awarded during that period, Hulbert said.

The cuts will therefore be handled via a freeze on open job positions, except for those critical to the core mission of the institution; cuts to travel, supplies, student labor, the number of scholarships awarded and operating services; and reductions to areas that receive funding from the state general fund, such as athletics, the Louisiana Center for Dyslexia and Related Learning Disorders and the Louisiana Center for Women and Government. These reductions will equal the 5.1-percent overall reduction to the university’s state general fund.

“Obviously, these cuts have affected the institution greatly,” Hulbert said. “Because of the continuous reductions and threat of further reductions, morale is down – making it difficult to maintain faculty and staff. Everyone has been doing more with less for four years. However, because of dedicated faculty and staff and a willingness to look at other ways to work smarter, the core of Nicholls remains strong and the institution will survive and flourish, even though the funding for Nicholls and all of Louisiana higher education institutions remains well below that of our peer institutions in other states.”

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