Southeastern to layoff 64 staff positions, impose furloughs to meet budget restrictions
Contact: Rene Abadie
HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University will eliminate 64 positions, impose furloughs ranging from two to four days for some personnel, and drastically cut departmental operating funds in order to meet its new fiscal year budget, university officials announced today (July 15).
In an e-mail message to faculty and staff, President John L. Crain outlined the university’s approach to handling a budget that reflects $10.1 million less when compared with the beginning operating budget last fiscal year. The reduction includes a $3.4 million mid-year cut sustained last December which carried over to the new fiscal year and another $6.7 million reduction announced at the end of the recent legislative session.
“We tried to minimize the impact of these cuts on our academic programs as much as possible. Also, it was fortunate that we moved quickly to freeze most vacancies resulting from retirements and resignations that occurred since the mid-year budget cuts were announced last December,” he said. “As a result of the cut, 45 of these vacant faculty and staff positions have been eliminated from the operating budget for the new fiscal year. Unfortunately, the magnitude of the budget cut and the need to exercise prudent management of our remaining resources have forced us also to eliminate 19 occupied positions. This was not an easy decision to make, and we regret the negative impact these layoffs will have on people’s lives.”
Crain said that while the university will receive about $2.9 million in additional revenues as a result of a five percent tuition increase and increases in graduate course rates, much of these resources will be needed to pay a $1.4 million increase in required contributions for employee benefits and state risk management as well as increases in other fixed operating costs such as utilities.
He said the university’s budget reduction plan, which has been developed over the last several months, includes an approximate $7 million cut from operating funds, such as supplies, travel, printing, operating services, acquisitions and repairs and in athletics. Another $3 million in savings will be achieved through furloughs and reduced salaries and benefits associated with the eliminated positions.
“We especially tried to minimize the impact of the budget cut on faculty in order to preserve our instructional capacity for the upcoming year,” he added. “No full-time permanent faculty have been terminated as a result of the budget reduction; however, we will closely monitor faculty workloads to ensure efficient utilization of instructional resources. In addition, all overtime and supplement compensation will be tightly controlled.”
Crain said Southeastern generally operates with a lean organization structure, maintaining one of the most efficient student-to-employee ratios in comparison to similar institutions in Louisiana and the region.
“In addition, we have a long-standing practice of routinely evaluating academic programs to ensure their viability,” he said. “Programs have been phased out when they became less attractive to students, less relevant to the area’s workforce needs, or less financially viable. The response required to address the immediate budget cut could have been much more dire had it not been for prior budget prudence.”
A furlough plan, which is subject to approval by the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors, is expected to be implemented in the fall and spring semesters. All staff and non-tenured faculty will be subject to furloughs of from two to four days, depending on salary level. The furloughs will include all department heads, deans, and other members of the administration, including vice presidents and the president.
Crain said Southeastern’s administrative team is already looking ahead to find additional savings, as all indications point to significant budgetary uncertainties for the next two fiscal years.
“We remain committed to maintaining our core academic mission in the face of budget challenges,” he said. “Our enrollment continues to be strong, and this fall we expect the largest number of well-prepared new freshmen in the university’s history. As faculty and staff, we remain focused on the success of our students.”