Message From the President
June 27, 2019
The 2019 Session of the Louisiana Legislature adjourned on June 6, 2019, and I want to express appreciation for the leadership of Governor John Bel Edwards and for his work and that of many of our legislators in support of funding for higher education. The budget for the upcoming 2019-20 fiscal year adopted by the Legislature includes full funding for TOPS and $16.5 million in additional higher education funding, of which $9.2 million is to help defray increases in mandated costs (retirement and insurance benefits, risk management, etc.).
At its meeting on June 19, 2019, the Louisiana Board of Regents finalized the funding formula through which state funds are allocated to state higher education systems and institutions. Based on this process, Southeastern will receive approximately $600,000 more in state funds for the 2019-20 fiscal year compared to last year. Our institution’s share of anticipated additional mandated costs (annualized) is approximately $800,000.
Now that we finally know these outcomes, we are proceeding with our internal budget planning process. Division heads have worked with units in their respective areas to collect information about critical needs. In the weeks ahead, meetings will occur with division heads and others to construct a budget for next fiscal year that reflects prioritization of the most critical needs as supported by accreditation requirements and Vision 2025 strategic priorities.
Clearly, with anticipated mandated costs, the new operating funds in our state appropriation are already committed. Likewise, although preliminary enrollment numbers for most student categories are showing positive trends for the fall semester, and there was a modest increase in summer semester enrollment, we are a couple of months away from knowing with certainty our final fall enrollment and the amount of resulting tuition/fee revenues.
As has been described in prior campus communications, like many other institutions, we are heavily dependent on resources directly associated with student enrollment. Ideally, we would know fall enrollment with certainty prior to completing the budget planning process; however, our budget must be submitted for approval well ahead of the beginning of the fall semester. Accordingly, we will be prudent in the preparation of the 2019-20 budget.
We fully realize there are legitimate resource needs, and we will work to address those that are most critical. One of my top priorities is to provide faculty and staff with a meaningful merit-based pay raise again this coming year. Our classified staff will receive a pay adjustment as provided for in civil service rules. We will begin discussions with campus constituents about an appropriate pay raise plan for faculty and unclassified staff, but will do so with an eye toward delaying implementation until the beginning of the 2020 calendar year, providing some additional time for more certainty regarding fall enrollment and final budget resources.
I hope everyone is having an enjoyable and productive summer and is looking forward to the start of a new academic year. I look forward to seeing everyone at the annual convocation on August 16, where we will recognize and honor a number of our colleagues and make some important and exciting announcements.
John L. Crain