Southeastern facing $16.5 million cut

Contact: Rene Abadie
Date: May 15, 2012

      HAMMOND – If the budget bill (HB1) currently moving through the Louisiana Legislature is not amended, Southeastern Louisiana University is slated to lose $16.5 million in state appropriations.

     This will bring Southeastern's total state funding reductions since Fiscal Year 2008/09 to $45.6 million, or 58 percent. As the current budget proposal stands, total reductions in state general fund support for all of higher education since FY 2008/09 would reach $585 million.

     "Over the past four years, we have absorbed significant reductions in our state support, and greatly streamlined our operations as a result," said President John L. Crain. "A reduction of this size, particularly given the magnitude of reductions already absorbed, would have a cataclysmic impact on the university and would drastically impair our ability to serve our students and communities."

     Over 70 percent of the State of Louisiana's operating budget is protected through constitutional or statutory dedications, federal mandates, and unavoidable obligations. Higher education does not enjoy any constitutional protection from cuts. Consequently, when the state faces significant shortfalls, higher education, along with healthcare, takes the brunt of the reductions.

     "Higher education has been notified that of the $268 million shortfall in the budget for next year, $134 million will be taken from our allocations," said University of Louisiana System President Randy Moffett.

     Over the past four years, reductions to higher education have been mitigated in part by one-time funding and raising tuition and fees. Even with modest increases in tuition over the last few years, it has not been enough to close the gap in funding. Since FY 2008/09, Southeastern's reduction in funds, net of tuition increases, would be $24.5 million, or 19 percent, given the current budget scenario.

     To date, Southeastern has taken numerous steps to address declining resources, including the elimination of more than 200 faculty and staff positions; elimination of degree programs with low enrollments; as well as reorganization of academic colleges and departments to streamline administrative staff, including elimination of four deans, two department heads and an assistant vice president.

     "We have been asked to do 'more with less' for several years now," Crain said. "Our people accepted the challenge and have continued to focus on the success of our students; however, there is a very real point at which you can no longer do more with less. The loss of an additional $16.5 million would likely result in further program and personnel reductions and would impact our ability to continue to meet GRAD Act performance targets."

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