UNO prepares for $14 million in cuts



Today University of New Orleans (UNO) officials presented the school's budget plan before the Louisiana State University System (LSUS) Board of Supervisors, the governing body for the state's universities, as UNO faces $14 million in cuts with the 2011 fiscal year (beginning July 2011) — when its share of federal stimulus dollars run out.

UNO will aim for a leaner, more efficient and nimble university, retaining programs and departments determined by three criteria: economic interest and viability to the city and region, student demand and interest, and reputation. Programs of interest to the university include its jazz, hotel and tourism administration and engineering studies. (Download UNO's budget presentation here.)

UNO Chancellor Timothy Ryan sent this letter to the school's community earlier this month:

"... This plan is a serious restructuring plan for the University of New Orleans that much thought has gone into. It is not an attempt to make a few cuts around the edges and continue to do the same things we have always done at a reduced level. UNO has always provided a terrific education to a large number of students at a low cost. Our restructuring, as presented in this plan, will require that we focus on academic areas that have high student demand, have the maximum economic impact, and that have achieved high levels of distinction.

Second, be assured that we will take care of our existing students. If a program that you are majoring in is on the list of programs to be eliminated, we will make sure that you are accommodated. We will facilitate transfer to other, closely related programs. Our faculty will work with those of you who are very close to your degree to get the necessary credits to graduate in that field. You are all UNO students and we want you to graduate from UNO. If all else fails, we will work with you to transfer to another university if that is what it takes to serve you. We will do what it takes!

Third, the programs that will be retained reflect a complex matrix of student demand, program costs, and academic reputation. Those programs that are being discontinued are not bad programs. We have no bad academic programs at UNO. If you are a faculty member in one of these programs, this action is not a reflection on your quality or of the quality of the program. It is simply a reflection of the very difficult economic times we are in and the tough choices that need to be made in order for UNO to prosper.

Finally, don’t let the fact that we have prepared this plan lead you to believe that we have stopped fighting for you, our students, our staff, and our faculty. Nothing could be further from the truth. I will continue to fight as hard as I can for adequate funding for the University of New Orleans as long as I am alive.

LSUS is not ruling out filing for financial exigency in the face of the cuts, which would allow the system to make other dramatic cuts. Budget plans will be finalized in September.

Cuts have hit LSUS hard since 2008. Gambit's coverage of higher education cuts include a look at protests — from students and faculty alike — calling on Gov. Bobby Jindal to evaluate the state's budget. From "Cutting Class" (March 29, 2010):

The latest round of cuts came at the end of 2009, before the 2010 spring semester. The Louisiana State University System (LSUS) absorbed $39.1 million of the $83.9 million in reductions among the state's university systems (LSUS is the largest). UNO, part of the LSUS, had $3.8 million hacked from its funding. Since the beginning of the academic year, the school has felt more than $13 million in cutbacks. Administrators and faculty scrambled to make decisions — employees were laid off, vacant positions were eliminated, programs closed, courses combined, and operating and travel expenses, salaries, benefits and repairs were significantly slashed. For a university still enduring post-Katrina reconstruction and the only university still not registering pre-Katrina enrollment numbers, more cuts only add insult to injury.

Since 2008, Louisiana has felt more than $250 million in cuts to higher education, and now the state forecasts budget shortfalls in the billions. UNO could be on the chopping block for another devastating round of cuts within this fiscal year, which began July 2009.

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