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Jul 2, 2012 5:49 AM by AP

Leaner Southern U after financial emergency

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Southern University is emerging from an eight-month financial emergency period with fewer students, degree choices and faculty members.

But the university is now in better shape to concentrate resources on successful programs such as engineering and nursing, and better equipped to guide students toward graduation, administrators told The Advocate.

Declining enrollment, state cuts and rising benefit costs brought October's declaration of financial emergency, called "exigency," which removed restrictions on cutting staff and consolidating programs. The eight-month period ended Saturday.

"When financial issues happen in the state, we feel it first," interim provost Janet Rami said. "Southern is like a canary in a coal mine."

Chancellor James Llorens has said the university laid off 70 faculty members and was eliminating 99 non-faculty positions through layoffs, retirements, resignations and attrition. He said remaining faculty and staff had to take two-day furloughs every month.

Reorganization is expected to continue into next year, Llorens said.

Southern eliminated about 30 degree programs that Rami said suffered from low enrollment and merged nine academic colleges into five.

Bachelor's and master's degree programs in physics have been combined with math, a number of education programs have been cut and while students can still take foreign languages, they cannot earn degrees in them, Rami said.

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