Cuts Add Strain to SU - Baton Rouge PDF Print E-mail
By Norman J. Dotson, Jr. -- Black College Wire   

An estimated $4.6 million cut puts an even larger dent in the already strained Southern University budget. According to Chancellor Kofi Lomotey, SUBR is in an even worse situation than last year and next year will be even worse.

Southern Digest
SUBR chancellor Kofi Lomotey
At the start of this year there were already layoffs of at least 27 members of staff and administration. Only one instructor was laid off.

“We are still in the process of trying to balance the budget,” said Lomotey. “If what we anticipate occurs next year, which is an $11 million cut, that represents about 50 percent of our non-faculty payroll which would put us in an even worse situation than this year.”

Two years ago the state received several million dollars of what was called stimulus money and “gave” Southern $11 million, however, at the same time they took $11 million out of the budget.

“They really didn’t give us anything, but in fact they are going to take the $11 million away when the stimulus money runs out,” Lomotey said. “Basically they are reducing our budget by $11 million.”

Southern was not the only institution where this occurred; all across the state institutions of higher learning were victims of this as well. With SUBR being the largest school in SU system, our cut was the largest out of the estimated $19 million total budget cuts system wide.

“We can’t layoff enough people and still be an institution, we are going to have to eliminate some degree programs,” Lomotey said.

Some of the least productive programs are up for consideration, those degree programs with the lowest graduation percentage would be cut out and students currently enrolled in them would have at least a year to seek out other degree programs or different institutional careers. To Lomotey the one degree program that sticks out the most is architecture.

“If I had to make a decision today Architecture would have to go. It is one of the least productive programs with a graduation rate of only 10 percent in three years,” Lomotey explained.

There are a number of things taken into consideration when a program has to be eliminated such as graduation rate, retention, number of students that take the classes, and program cost. Last year a self-assessment of all programs, called a program review, was conducted and a committee consisting of staff, administrators, and students looked over these self-assessments to rank each program.

“Architecture didn’t fair too well,” said Lomotey. “We were going to recommend to the board that architecture be terminated. Ultimately I withdrew that recommendation because I don’t want to have close any program down and if the board would have approved that we still would have spent this year trying to find a way to save architecture.”

Typically the university would keep the program open only for those students currently enrolled in it, however, the university needs to cut $11 million next year and not over the course of three years.

In all his years as a professional Lomotey claimed that he has never seen such a “financial mess.” He feels that this is due to the state not valuing higher education.

“Every time there is a financial challenge they come to higher education and healthcare,” Lomotey said.

Norman J. Dotson Jr. is editor-in-chief of the Southern Digest, the Southern University student newspaper, which originally published this article.

Posted Aug. 30, 2010
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