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August 31, 2010 — New Semester/New Reality

Dr. Joseph Savoie -- Tue, 08/31/2010 - 12:40pm

Dear Faculty and Staff,

Congratulations on the successful beginning of a new academic year.  We are off to a great start and I’m pleased to report that this fall’s enrollment is the highest since admissions criteria were implemented in 1999.  And, our freshman class is the biggest and best prepared since these criteria were put in place.  These are positive indicators and a result of your excellent work.  It also is an expression of the confidence that students and parents have in the strength and vitality of our university.   Your efforts are paying off in very tangible ways and I thank you for your service and dedication, especially during these uncertain financial times.

As you know from my previous messages (January 7, 2009, February 5, 2009, August 4, 2009, January 7, 2010 and January 13, 2010), as well as from following state and local media reports, budget issues for Louisiana colleges and universities remain critical.  Since our first budget reduction in December 2008, we have worked together to manage a loss in state support of over $16,000,000.  Thanks to a spirit of cooperation in reducing expenses, creative solutions from faculty and staff, and sound fiscal management, we have been able to manage these reductions without significant interruption of services for our students or financial hardship for our faculty and staff.  Certainly you have heard from your colleagues at other institutions where budget reductions cut much deeper much more quickly.

In May I announced that Dr. Steve Landry, in the months before his retirement in December, would lead a review and evaluation of every academic and administrative unit, as well as every program and service offered by the university.  The purpose of this review is to prioritize programs and services in preparation for expected mid-year cuts.  For the past several weeks, Dr. Landry and Dr. Carolyn Bruder have been working with the deans to develop a review and program prioritization process. The process they set forth is comprehensive and based on Robert C. Dickeson’s book, Prioritizing Academic Programs and Services: Reallocating Resources for Strategic Balance. Dr. Landry is convening a faculty task force to work parallel to the deans.  This faculty task force will work to clarify and refine the criteria and process being used in program prioritization.  I have directed the heads of auxiliary, athletic, administrative and student services areas to conduct a similar evaluation.  In the coming weeks, we will be providing more regular communication as this review and plans unfold.

On August 19, 2010 our Board of Supervisors requested that universities begin preparing budget reduction scenarios for next fiscal year ranging from 15% to 35%.  Last week we learned that these preliminary budget reduction scenarios are due by mid-September.

Those outside of academia do not easily recognize the complexity of university revenues and expenditures.  The attached document, Understanding University Revenues and Expenditures, may be helpful as you encounter members of the community who have questions.

Although we have difficult challenges ahead, I am confident that we will weather this fiscal storm if we remain focused on our mission and united in our approach.  Thank you for your continued support.


E. Joseph Savoie