Jan 8, 2010 4:25 PM by Rob Kirkpatrick
$21.2 Million Mid-Year Cut to Impact Courses and Personnel in the UL System
BATON ROUGE - Terminations, decreased class offerings, and reductions in operating budgets for athletics, libraries and student support programs are some of the ways the eight universities in the University of Louisiana System are absorbing a $21.2 million mid-year budget reduction. This round of mid-year cuts is the third decrease in state support for higher education over the past 13 months, totaling $77.8 million for UL System schools.
"Our universities are doing the best they can to minimize the impacts of these devastating cuts, but the fact is we are bleeding," said UL System President Randy Moffett. "It may have started out as a minor cut, but the bandage keeps getting ripped off and soon our campuses may not have the ability to heal without permanent scarring."
The following are specific examples of how UL System campuses are addressing the budget reductions.
Elimination of Academic Offerings: $7 million Mid-Year / $20.4 million Cumulative
Over 300 course offerings have been eliminated due to budgetary impacts. Reducing class offerings may increase time towards degree completion with fewer options for students scheduling classes to meet personal/work needs, increased class sizes, increased faculty loads with no additional compensation, and less time for individual student attention, research and community service.
Elimination of Filled and Vacant Positions: $9.3 million Mid-Year / $27.7 million Cumulative
The three budget reductions have directly impacted 801 positions. This includes non-renewal of contracts, not replacing retirees, eliminating part-time and adjunct teaching positions, and terminating 162 employees.
In addition to the human impacts of job losses, position losses reduce campus services including key areas such as Admissions, Human Resources, and Student Life. Timeliness of services becomes an issue as students and visitors experience increased wait times and delays in key services. This further has the potential to put mandated accreditation at risk since some of these eliminated positions are faculty.
Reduction of Library Operating Services: $650,000 Mid-Year / $2.6 million Cumulative
All campuses have cut library operating services. This includes acquisitions, services and operating hours. These cuts reduce the ability to respond to student and faculty needs, and have a tremendous negative impact on student learning and research. It also has the potential to hinder a university's ability to satisfy SACS accreditation requirements related to library and learning resources.
Reduced Support for Athletics: $1.4 million Mid-Year / $7 million Cumulative
In some instances, entire sports programs have been eliminated such as men's tennis at Southeastern Louisiana University. Reductions in athletics may negatively impact enrollment, community relations, economic development and student life. Decreased funding also may threaten program viability and competitiveness, as well as Title IX issues.
Reduction of Scholarships: $98,000 Mid-Year / $156,000 Cumulative
Reductions in scholarships mean a direct cost increase to the student, creating more student debt, the threat of losing students to other universities and loss of access to students.
Reduction of Supplies, Travel and Other Operating Services: $3.6 million Mid-Year /
$7.5 million Cumulative
These various reductions impact a campus's ability to serve its community, which is a part of the mission of the University. This impact not only affects students and teachers, but also constituents across the state. This results in an inability to deliver proper services to students and the campus as a whole. Campuses may have to cope with reduced support for accreditation, maintenance to aging buildings delays to routine repairs and lack of funds to replace out of date or broken equipment.
Reduction of Research: $1.7 million Mid-Year / $3.6 million Cumulative
Reducing investments in research impacts the ability to attract federal funding, inhibits innovation and economic development. It also deters recruitment and retention of outstanding faculty.
"These reductions go beyond directly impacting higher education. A recent study of the economic and community impacts of the eight-university system found that every $1 invested in the UL System by the state yields an $8 return. Using that calculation, the $77.8 million cumulative cuts equate a $622.4 million negative impact on Louisiana's economy," said Moffett.