Southeastern holiday decorations go green
Contact: Rene Abadie
HAMMOND – In an effort to save on operating expenses, Southeastern Louisiana University’s holiday decorations this year will feature the usual greenery but fewer lights.
Traditionally, the university has outlined its perimeter buildings in white lights during the Christmas holidays. This year the university will forgo the lighting and emphasize the decorations that feature wreaths and greenery.
“With the current state budget situation, it’s important that we save our operating dollars whenever we have an option,” said President John L. Crain. “I think our campus community and university neighbors who have delighted in the lights over past years will understand the current situation.”
Crain said the regular campus lighting will remain on during the holidays as a matter of safety. The move will also reduce demands on physical plant staff, which has suffered loss of personnel due to the budget cuts and would usually provide manpower for hanging the holiday lights.
In addition, this year the university will not send out holiday greeting cards nor distribute Southeastern ornaments to faculty and staff, which had been done as an expression of appreciation in the past. While both have traditionally been paid for with non-state funds from the private Southeastern Development Foundation, Crain said the savings – estimated at a few thousand dollars – will be channeled instead into additional scholarship support for students via the Southeastern General Scholarship Fund.
“Like institutions of higher education, our students have also been impacted by the state’s declining economy,” he said. “Through private fund raising as well as operational dollars, we are trying to provide as much support for students as possible. We continue to value the support of alumni and friends and are very grateful to faculty and staff for their hard work and dedication. However, fiscal prudence is vital, and we hope everyone will understand.”
Since the budget cuts were initiated almost two years ago, the university has made several moves to save operating dollars, including staff and faculty layoffs, elimination of vacant positions, deferred maintenance, and severe restrictions on travel, equipment and supplies.
In addition, the university has garnered several grants to develop energy savings initiatives. A biodiesel plant is recycling used cooking oil from the university’s cafeteria and other food outlets into fuel that is used in Southeastern’s tractors, mowers, Bobcats and other diesel-fueled equipment at a cost of $.64 per gallon, compared to the $2.80 per gallon cost of commercial diesel fuel. A solar panel structure is also in the works to conserve energy and reduce utility costs.
A 4.5 day work week for the spring semester and a four-day work week during the summer will also help the university capture savings on utilities.