Dear Faculty and Staff,
Welcome back to campus!
The end of last semester was momentous. For the first time we held Commencement ceremonies in two cities. We hosted our customary college ceremonies in Lafayette and one special ceremony, complete with academic regalia, for our football student-athletes preparing for the bowl game in New Orleans. What a weekend! Even weeks later, excitement about UL Lafayette abounds around the state and well beyond. Overall, I expect that 2012 will be a great year for us.
Exuberance aside, the remainder of the current fiscal year will be a leaner time. The State of Louisiana announced last month a significant adjustment to its FY12 revenue projections, resulting in an additional cut of $50 million to higher education funding in response to this latest shortfall.
Our university’s share of this $50 million cut to higher education is $3.3 million for the remainder of the university’s 2011-2012 fiscal year budget. This is certainly challenging because our faculty, staff and students have endured budget cuts already this fiscal year and for the three previous fiscal years. Over the winter break, members of the university administration and I met and decided that this latest cut would be shared across the university’s divisions with preference and priority given to protecting our institution’s academic and teaching core and protecting our most important asset in fulfilling this mission – our faculty and staff. Thus, there are no plans for layoffs or furloughs.
To manage this cut, reductions will be made in operating expenses, equipment and supply acquisitions, and travel. University subsidies for athletics, research, and economic and workforce development centers will also be reduced.
While we are not implementing an outright travel freeze, we are cutting travel funds across the university. I appreciate that many of you have refrained from travel this past fall and ask that you continue such restraint, with the exception of limited, pre-approved travel that is critical to your professional development and to our institution.
I am confident that we will continue to succeed regardless of this most recent budget reduction. Although we have endured successive and excessive budget cuts, our progress has not stopped because we have taken steps to review ourselves critically and to explore new partnerships and revenue initiatives.
After more than three decades in public higher education, my experience informs me that state financial support for higher education is cyclical. I also believe that we are at or near the bottom of this current down cycle and that our financial future will begin to improve. That is why despite these cuts, our Master Plan will move forward and we will continue to rise for the betterment of our students, our region and our state. I truly appreciate your patience and cooperation during these challenging times.
Best wishes for the new year and the semester ahead!
E. Joseph Savoie