Reeling from consecutive years of budget cuts and with more severe contractions on the horizon, higher education institutions statewide including UL Lafayette have begun preparing worst case scenarios for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. The self-review process at UL being conducted mainly between UL President Dr. Joe Savoie’s office and the deans has fueled rumors among faculty that severe cuts including layoffs are imminent. That’s not the case, says UL Provost Dr. Steve Landry.
“Even before this emerged,” Landry says, “Dr. Savoie had asked me as provost to begin a review process where we would do self-stock of everything, and so I’ve done some research and on campus we’re initiating an assessment process, reviewing all our programs for priority.”
Federal stimulus dollars are expected to run out next year, and it’s unclear how much if any the state may obtain to close budget gaps; state lawmakers have used some $3 billion dollars this year and last to help balance the budget. Couple that with another anticipated billion-dollar shortfall in the state budget, and the usual fiscal crutches — health care and higher education — will be leaned on again in 2011.
“Among the things we’re doing is looking at worst case scenarios,” acknowledges Landry. “And we’re preparing for the worst, hoping for the best. So those kinds of conversations between myself and the deans and between the deans and department heads are intended to simply prepare scenario cases. So, it’s not a directive: ‘Hey, find out how we’re going to cut 20 percent and go do it.’ Instead it’s, ‘Let’s take stock of everything we do and if we have to go 2 percent, 5 percent, 20 percent, how do we get there?’”
Landry characterizes the anxiety among faculty members as “some early reverb” stemming from the review process. “As the faculty comes back next week from their summer break,” he adds, “we’re going to be communicating with them this process that we’re undertaking as well. It’s going to be a full systemic review and I think it’s unlikely that our strategy would be, ‘O, let’s cut every department 20 percent.’ That’s not the best logic. The best logic is to look at what’s your strength and what’s your future look like, what do you really want to go after as an institution and a community and then maybe some departments can help us with 20 percent and maybe I eliminate a unit in the worst case scenario. I’m trying to take a very strategic approach to this and not just say, ‘We’re going to cut everybody 20 percent.’ So, that would really be a misrepresentation of what we plan to do.”
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.