New budget brings additional personnel reductions at Southeastern
Contact: Rene Abadie
HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University is eliminating an additional 67 positions in order to meet the new fiscal year operating budget, university officials announced today. As part of budget reductions last year, Southeastern eliminated nearly 100 positions and laid off 44 employees.
“Over the past 18 months, we have made significant reductions in operating funds amounting to nearly $16 million. These cuts have impacted all areas of spending, such as travel, supplies, repairs, maintenance, and personnel,” Crain said.
Crain notified faculty and staff in an e-mail message last week of the additional personnel reductions.
“While I regret these decisions that negatively impact the lives of our colleagues, the actions are necessary to ensure the continued financial viability of our university,” he said.
This current set of personnel actions affects 26 faculty positions, including elimination of positions vacated as a result of the early retirement of 14 tenured faculty members. Among staff, 28 classified and 13 unclassified positions are being eliminated, resulting in 27 layoffs. The specific positions affected are not being publicized while notifications are being processed.
“Even after accounting for a tuition increase in the fall semester, unavoidable cost increases in several areas of operation including fringe benefits, risk management premiums, and utilities, coupled with a reduction in our state appropriation of $1.7 million, resulted in a net shortfall in the university’s operating budget,” he said.
Crain said the university is planning to participate in the LA GRAD Act, noting that the general performance goals in the Act are consistent with the university’s existing strategic direction and plans. “While the additional five percent tuition increase through the LA GRAD Act is included in our budget plans for next year, the processes for negotiating and executing the required performance contracts are not yet finalized,” he said.
In addition, he said significant reductions in the new fiscal year to the budgets of both the University of Louisiana System and the Board of Regents could negatively impact certain pass-through items that ultimately affect the university’s budget.
“Finally,” he added, “there continues to be growing concern about the negative impact of the Gulf oil spill on the state’s economy and tax base, potentially resulting in further revenue shortfalls and mid-year reductions to operating budgets of state agencies, including higher education. For all of these reasons, we are being cautious in our budgeting for the new fiscal year.”
Crain noted that record numbers of academically well-prepared students continue to enroll at Southeastern, and he anticipates a strong fall enrollment of new freshmen and increased retention of upper-level students.
“We acknowledge the difficulty in maintaining a positive and productive attitude among our faculty and staff in light of these ongoing challenges and uncertainty,” he said. “However, we continue to remind ourselves that none of the challenges facing us are the result of actions or choices by our students. Despite our frustrations – which are attributable to financial distress of our state and institution – we remain committed to the success of our students.”