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University of Louisiana System

10 2019-08-16

Building Capacity for More Study Abroad

Windward Community College administrators had long wanted to establish study abroad programs for students. But the small two-year college in Hawaii didn't have the infrastructure set up for it.

Things changed three years ago after the college applied for and received a $50,000 grant from the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to create two short-term, faculty-led study abroad programs -- Footholds Abroad -- in England and New Zealand. The college also used the grant -- which could not be used to directly fund student travel -- to help create a study abroad center and website where students could get information about the study abroad opportunities available to them, including programs run by the University of Hawaii system, of which Windward is a part.

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Windward had not consistently run its own study abroad programs before 2016. But the college has since offered the England program three times and the New Zealand program twice. It has also offered faculty-led programs in Costa Rica and the Czech Republic. Plans are in the works for new programs in Ireland and Taiwan next year and a second program in England.

Sarah Hadmack, an associate professor of religion and director of study abroad at Windward, said the funding helped the college "create a model" it could use for creating additional faculty-led programs.

"It was just what we needed to really get the ball rolling," she said.

Nationally, about 11 percent of undergraduate students study abroad at some point in their degree programs, but the percentages who study abroad vary dramatically across some institutions. Some private liberal arts colleges boast 100 percent participation, or very close to it, while other institutions send very small numbers of students overseas.

Students at community colleges and minority-serving institutions, or MSIs, tend to study abroad at lower rates: less than 1 percent of students at community colleges study abroad during their degree program, while 5 percent of students at minority-serving institutions study abroad, according to data from the Institute of International Education, which conducts an annual survey of study abroad participation rates. But those numbers may soon grow; there is intense interest at many MSIs and community colleges in expanding study abroad opportunities for their students.

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, or ECA, has provided more than $10 million in small grants to 90 higher education institutions since 2009 to help expand study abroad opportunities. Of the 90 colleges that have received grants, 29 are minority-serving institutions and 18 are two-year institutions (some fall into both categories). The grants fund projects that build capacity to expand or diversify the student populations that study abroad or the destinations where they study -- more than 70 percent of students who study abroad are white, and more than 50 percent study in Western Europe.

Some of the grant recipients send much larger proportions of their students abroad than others. Sul Ross State University, a Hispanic-serving institution in West Texas, sends less than 0.1 percent of its undergraduates abroad each year. Sul Ross has a high proportion of students with financial need: 64 percent of undergraduates receive federal Pell Grants.

“We also have a very high percentage of students who are first-generation college students,” said Esther Rumsey, the director of international studies and a professor of communication at Sul Ross. “Trying to do a whole semester abroad is not something that’s financially viable for the majority of our students.”

Sul Ross is using a newly awarded $35,000 State Department grant to develop study abroad programs -- one- to two-week trips -- that are embedded into core curriculum classes.

“It offers a travel opportunity for students early in their college career, like second semester freshmen year, or sophomore year,” Rumsey said.

She's hoping that a short-term study abroad experience will lead students to consider doing a full semester abroad or exploring other international study opportunities such as a Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship, a State Department program that provides scholarships for study abroad and international internships for Pell Grant recipients.

“But I think the first step is to get them a passport and get them out of the country once so they see that it is something that is not just for elites -- a broad variety of people can go,” Rumsey said.

Other institutions are using grant funding for more targeted outreach. Augustana University, in South Dakota, sends about 200 students abroad a year, mostly on short-term programs during the January term. About half of its students study abroad over the course of their undergraduate career. The university is using an approximately $21,000 grant to fund faculty travel to develop a new study abroad site in Kenya and to fund a part-time, one-year position to analyze the college’s study abroad participation data.

“This research position is giving somebody 20 hours a week to dig into all this data that we have about the students that have gone abroad -- the faculty who have led, and what courses -- and compare that to our student body,” said Erin Kane, the assistant director of international studies at Augustana. “What we really want to see is who isn’t going and why not and be able to offer specific courses that are going to target these students because of interest or major or location or whatnot.”

Some colleges have used the grants for building up their administrative infrastructure for study abroad. Shepherd University, in West Virginia, used a 2016 grant of roughly $50,000 to help establish a study abroad office. Yin Star, who was appointed to be Shepherd's first full-time study abroad director, used part of the grant to get professional certification from the Forum on Education Abroad so she could set the office up in line with best practices in the field.

"It allowed seed money for me to be able to come to Shepherd and do the job," Star said. "It allowed me to form a study abroad club, it allowed me to get the study abroad photo contest going, it allowed me to really take charge of putting the word out there for students to think about study abroad, and it allowed me to build my website."

Other colleges have used the State Department grants to fund development of specific programs. Santa Fe College, a community college in Florida, used a 2017 grant to develop a new biotechnology internship program in partnership with the State University of São Paulo, in Brazil. Four students participated in the inaugural year, and another iteration of the program is planned for next summer.

“As an institution that serves a high percentage of economically disadvantaged youth and a high percentage of minority students -- most of our students are working, some of them full-time, and they have busy, active lives -- people dream about study abroad, but they see it as something that’s not possible,” said Vilma Fuentes, the assistant vice president of academic affairs at Santa Fe College. “Being able to have a grant-funded project that shows the viability of this and to be able to tie it directly to an academic program … to say, ‘This can be the pinnacle of your bachelor’s,’ it was a very powerful project, I think.” (Santa Fe College, like other community colleges in Florida, offers a number of bachelor's degree programs.)

Gallaudet University, a college for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, is using a newly awarded grant to develop resources to support access for deaf students to study abroad.

Becca AbuRakia-Einhorn, Gallaudet’s coordinator of education abroad, said study abroad provider organizations have a "wide spectrum" of practices when it comes to accommodating deaf students. “Generally, a lot of these study abroad organizations will say, ‘We will do our best,’ and the problem is that we end up reinventing the wheel every time we’re trying to work with them,” she said.

“I get calls and emails multiple times per week from people from other universities who say, ‘I have a deaf student who walks into my office; she wants to go to Semester at Sea -- what do I do?’ Someone wrote to me and asked, ‘What’s the standard way to pay an interpreter?’ There is no standard.”

AbuRakia-Einhorn hopes to publish case study information on how colleges and study abroad providers have handled accommodations for deaf students. Another goal is to highlight the work of deaf travel bloggers. "The goal at the end is to collect a lot of different resources that will help advisers work with students who are deaf, that will help students who are deaf feel empowered to navigate the study abroad process, and lastly to help study abroad providers make their programs more accessible," she said.

The study abroad capacity-building grants are not especially large -- in 2019 the largest grant available was $35,000 -- but the projects point to various ways in which institutions of varying types and study abroad participation levels are thinking about expanding opportunities and diversifying participation.

“Our evaluations of the program show that the capacity-building program is helping U.S. higher education institutions sustainably build their study abroad capacity,” Caroline Casagrande, the deputy assistant secretary for academic programs at the State Department, said via email. “For example, we recently finished a multiyear evaluation of the 17 grants we funded in 2016 and found that more than 700 U.S. students -- nearly half from groups underrepresented in study abroad -- participated in programs supported by our small grants that year. Grantee institutions established 71 new global partnerships, formalized 47 new memorandums of understanding and strengthened 33 existing MoUs that they will use to increase their study abroad programs and numbers for years to come."

At Windward, one of the programs established with the help of the State Department grant, a two-week theater program in England, just completed its third run. Nicolas Logue, an assistant professor of theater who co-directs the program, said the college has obtained grant funding and support from a number of institutions, including a grant from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, to bring the cost down to a nominal amount for students. The students who participated in the program this summer paid only for their airfare in addition to the regular cost of tuition for a three-credit course, he said. They spent a week in London at the East 15 Acting School and a week in Shakespeare’s birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon.

“It’s led to such amazing training and career opportunities for students,” Hadmack, the study abroad director, said of the program. Two Windward students have successfully auditioned for East 15 while they were there (one deferred to pursue professional acting opportunities, according to Logue).

“The cool thing is that trip has led to a deeper partnership with both Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and East 15 Acting School,” Logue said. “We’re exploring more and more exciting things with them, not just sending them a cohort of students every year, though we’ll still continue to do that.”
10 2019-08-15

UL System launches Compete LA to re-engage adult learners

University of Louisiana System President and CEO Jim Henderson announced the launch of Compete LA, a program designed to re-engage the 653,000 Louisianians with some college credit but no degree. Henderson, former president of Northwestern State University, introduced the program during the monthly meeting of the Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce Wednesday.

“For Louisiana to be competitive in the economy of the future, we have to develop a more educated workforce,” Henderson said. “Compete LA is designed to cut through the red tape of returning to school and provide supports at every step of the student’s educational journey.”

The program features adult-friendly degree paths throughout the System’s nine member institutions. Each Compete LA student is matched with a free coach to assist in identifying the best path to degree completion, re-enrollment, and academic success.

“Louisianians can compete at the highest levels provided they have the educational foundation to adapt in this new technology-driven reality,” Henderson said. “The future of work offers boundless opportunities for the prepared, and Compete LA is a platform to assist our citizens in reaching their full potential.”

Northwestern State University is featuring 11 degree programs in Compete LA. Areas of study include accounting, addiction studies, allied health, business administration, computer information sciences, criminal justice, general studies, nursing, psychology and unified public safety administration.

“NSU offers a ‘fast track’ curriculum with eight- and 16-week courses,” said Dr. Darlene Williams, NSU’s vice president for Technology, Innovation and Economic Development. “This a great opportunity for students who are trying to complete degrees while working full time. NSU accepts credits from any other regionally accredited university, and students can also take advantage of prior learning assessment determined to be college level learning.”

“Northwestern State University has more than two decades of experience offering online programs,” said NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio. “Our dedicated team is focused on ways to enhance adult learning opportunities for the citizens of our state through quality academic programs and support services.”

The System has received more than 400 program applications through a three-month soft launch. Additionally, the System is reaching out to its own former students and has engaged more than 400 who have more than 120 course credits. The typical undergraduate degree only requires 124 credits for completion.

10 2019-08-15

Pew Study: Faculty-Student Diversity Divide Persists

Faculty are slowly becoming more racially and ethnically diverse – but not nearly as diverse as their students, a new Pew Research Center study found.

More than three-quarters of faculty are White compared to 55 percent of students, according to fall 2017 data from the National Center for Education Statistics. From 1997 to 2017, the number of minority students climbed by 17 percent while faculty diversity rose 10 percent.

Progress for Black and Latinx faculty has been particularly sluggish, with their percentages rising only minimally over the course of a decade. Since 1997, the number of Latinx faculty jumped by 2 percent, and for Black faculty, only 1 percent.

The study also found that only 6 percent of faculty are Black compared to 14 percent of students. For Latinx faculty, the disparity is even wider. A fifth of the U.S. student population is now Latinx versus only 5 percent of professors.

This diversity gap has consequences for student learning. Research on elementary school and middle school students has found that students of color are more motivated and have loftier goals for college when their teachers look like them.

An American Economic Association study found similar results on community college campuses: Performance gaps between minority students and their peers – in terms of dropout rates and grades – fell by 20 to 50 percent when they were taught by minority professors.

Racial, ethnic and gender gaps between faculty and students span across disciplines, according to National Center for Education Statistics data. But 2017 research showed faculty diversity falls particularly low in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) at the top 40 public universities.

Even at diverse schools, this can create a “micro-culture” for STEM students of color “where they’re feeling love from the university but not feeling any kind of love from their department,” said Dr. Ebony O. McGee, associate professor of diversity and STEM education at Vanderbilt University.

But McGee worries many faculty members of color aren’t “feeling the love” at all.

McGee argued that faculty diversity is growing so slowly because departments aren’t looking to create systemic change when they hire. They’ll support a diversity workshop or a diversity celebration week, she said, but “they really don’t want true intellectual thought from people of color.”

She calls it “diversity lite.”

“They want a little dab of diversity,” McGee said. “Like there’s a cake and there’s a little bit of icing on the cake, but the cake is still going to be steeped in heterosexual-ness, Whiteness, maleness, able-bodiedness, Christianness, middle-to-upper-middle-classness… They’re still going to be steeped in the Eurocentric values many universities were founded upon.”

McGee added that some faculty of color burn out and leave academia. It can be tiring to be one of a few, she said, noting that hiring underrepresented faculty doesn’t help school diversity if they don’t stay.

“Recruiting is nothing compared to retention,” she said. “Why are you putting your energy on getting that Black body in that White environment if you don’t change the environment at all?”

According to Dr. Antonio Flores, president of the Hispanic Association for Colleges and Universities, a combination of factors specifically hold Hispanics back from becoming professors.

First of all, Latinx students might “not think of themselves as Ph.D. material, even though they are,” he said. Many of them, especially first-generation graduates, didn’t grow up knowing people who continued on to higher degrees. So, they don’t necessarily hold those aspirations for themselves, let alone have the funds and professional networks to pursue them.

“The reality is that there isn’t a sufficiently robust social capital infrastructure for them to have the support they need to get PhDs,” he said.

He also pointed out that a significant portion of Latinx students attend community colleges, which may lack the resources or prestige to advance them to graduate school.

Last, it’s a demographics issue, Flores said. A generation ago, Latinx students didn’t make up 20 percent of U.S. college students. Only recently, there’s been an “explosive” growth of Latinx students, both in K-12 and higher education. Some of those students will go on to get PhDs. The numbers will go up eventually, he said, but not yet.

Moving forward, Flores thinks both the government and schools are responsible for investing in future minority professors to close the gap between faculty and student diversity. He advocated for providing broad financial assistance and incentivizing underrepresented students to come back to their universities for graduate school.

He also suggested that the federal government could even consider forgiving loan debt for minority students over time if they return to minority serving institutions to teach.

McGee recommended cluster hiring across ranks – bringing in multiple minority faculty members at different levels in their academic careers – as one step toward bridging the gap. That way, faculty of color will have not only peers but mentors who can advocate on their behalf, she said.

She suggested including diversity work, like workshops, as a factor in consideration for tenure, as well. McGee said she’s constantly asked to run diversity programs or represent minority perspectives on committees at Vanderbilt. While she appreciates it, these tasks take away from her research time, and they aren’t as valued in academic circles.

McGee also wants to see schools offer financial incentives to deans who run department-level climate studies and retain minority faculty.

All of these strategies require effort and cost, said Flores, but he argued that closing the diversity divide between faculty and students will pay off in the long run for higher education.

“I see so many possibilities, but all of them require some type of investment,” he said. “Your return on investment is going to be many times over what you invest – for your institutions, for your state, for your society in general.”

Sara Weissman can be reached at sweissman@diverseeducation.com.
10 2019-08-15

The changing role of physical campuses in online education

With free-flowing coffee and sleek modern furnishings in an open-concept space, Strayer University’s new location in Killeen, Tex., looks more like a high-end co-working space than a typical university outpost.

That’s because in many ways it is. The space is the 20th “hybrid campus” Strayer has opened in the past two years, with more locations like it on the way.

Boston U's new online M.B.A. is less expensive than, and different from, on-campus program
The changing role of physical campuses in online education
Strayer, an online for-profit institution with more than 50,000 students, has long offered physical locations where students can take in-person classes. The university currently has more than 70 campuses nationwide.

But in recent years, the number of students opting to study face-to-face has diminished and more students are choosing to study exclusively online, prompting Strayer’s administration to rethink how these spaces might best be used, said Cale Holman, university chief academic officer and provost.

“While online learning has transformative potential, distance learners still benefit immensely from a sense of community, peer networking and support services historically equated with the on-campus experience,” said Holman. “Through this work, our goal is to eliminate the false choice between the best of online and the best of in-person services.”

The “café-style campus model” offers lots of space for students to study and mingle with their peers, said Holman. While some hybrid campuses will continue to offer in-person instruction, the focus will be on providing a quiet space for students to learn and get access to services such as success coaching or admissions help when they need it, he said.

Of the 20 hybrid campuses Strayer has already launched, seven were new locations where the university did not previously have a physical presence. Eleven of the hybrid campuses were renovations of existing campus spaces, and two were relocations.

The hybrid campuses are concentrated in urban areas where there is high student density and a large number of employers, said Holman. In addition to providing a space for students to study and get support, the hybrid campuses will offer career development opportunities, including résumé-building workshops and interview prep sessions.

Even if online students never set foot onto one of Strayer's physical locations, they can have a positive effect on students, said Holman. In 2018, students who lived near a Strayer campus were 5 percent more likely to continue on to the next quarter than were those who did not live near a Strayer campus, he said. "I compare it to having a bank branch near your house, you might never go in there, but customers like that they can go in and talk to a real person if they need to," he said.

Back to the Future at Phoenix

Strayer is not the only primarily online for-profit institution that is shaking up its campus strategy. The University of Phoenix recently opened a new campus in Arlington, Va., which it describes as a "service center."

The new Northern Virginia DC campus will offer many of the same resources that students would find at any of Phoenix's existing campuses or learning centers across the country -- academic tutoring, computer access and spaces to organize group meetings. But the space is not designed as a traditional classroom. Instead, it is designed as a place for students, alumni and the community to convene.

Jeannine Lake, district vice president at Phoenix, said the changing needs of online students have mandated a new model.

"Our goal is that we'll still have a presence in every key market, it will just be based on the demand that is there," said Lake. "If the demand for online learning is bigger, then our location will be focused on providing services to meet those students' needs. If students are still choosing the in-person modality, we'll continue to have that option."

Lake said the university is looking to open more of these types of locations in urban areas where students live, work and play. The new service center approach will be "a lot more community-oriented," said Lake, with a greater focus on career development.

Leaders at Phoenix believe taking the service center approach will play an important role in engaging students, said Lake. "Just because they're not coming in to take courses face-to-face, we still want to make sure that they have a quiet place to come and study."

Maintaining a physical location not only helps students feel connected to the university, it also serves as a recruitment tool, said Lake. "We have many potential students that walk in to our locations looking for more information," she said.

Sean Gallagher, executive professor of educational policy at Northeastern University, said it makes sense for these institutions to focus on expanding in urban areas.

"Historically (going back into the 1990s and well into the 2000s) the for-profit model was to locate near highway intersections outside of cities in relatively inexpensive Class-B office space, serving baby boomers and Gen Xers where they worked," said Gallagher. "More of the population and economic activity and momentum today is concentrated in cities themselves, so schools are locating where the students and jobs are."

Gallagher said while demand for hybrid and blended learning is high, many fully online institutions have yet to invest in some type of on-the-ground presence. But this appears to be changing. Capella University opened its first brick-and-mortar campus center in June. The parent companies of Capella University and Strayer University merged last year to create Strategic Education, Inc.

Jeff Silber, an educational financial analyst with BMO Capital, said that the for-profit sector “tends to be ahead of the curve” in online education, though it rarely gets credit for it.

“The for-profit sector as a whole tends to be more in tune with where the industry is going and more focused on serving students in ways that are more convenient to them -- whether fully online, in the classroom, hybrid, nights, weekends, etc.”

Daniel Pianko, managing director of University Ventures, an investment firm focused on global higher education, said it is a “virtual certainty” that in 10 years’ time, every major online university will have a substantial number of hybrid centers, either for pedagogical, marketing or regulatory reasons.

“There is a long tradition of universities creating smaller footprint campuses in high-density areas to support professional programs,” he said. “It’s no surprise that primarily online universities are using a physical presence to enhance that student experience and attract more students.”

A member of the University of Phoenix’s senior leadership team once told Pianko that the institution’s rollout of physical campuses in the early 2000s was largely marketing for the online programs. While the university closed 115 of these campuses in 2012 due to falling student numbers, it still maintains around 50 physical locations.

“Universities -- for-profit and nonprofit -- realize that more than 50 percent of students attend a university within driving distance of their home,” said Pianko. “While students want the convenience of online, they want the experience of in-person education. There is a huge trust factor for a university to have a location that someone can go in and touch.”

The trend of creating physical spaces for students to learn and meet up is not confined to for-profits. Georgia Tech last year shared plans to open a “storefront” for its online degrees, and institutions such as Northeastern University, Arizona State University, Webster University and the University of Maryland Global Campus also offer multiple campus locations.

Research increasingly shows that hybrid education has “substantially better outcomes” than purely online or in-person educational experiences, said Pianko. “The more technology we use, the more important the sense of space and human connection becomes.”
10 2019-08-15

NICERC Cybersecurity Pathway opens career options for Louisiana students

Louisiana students now have the opportunity to earn a STEM seal on their diplomas by completing courses outlined in the newly implemented cybersecurity pathway developed by the National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center (NICERC), the academic division of the Cyber Innovation Center.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) voted Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019 to add the NICERC cybersecurity pathway to its list of approved options for Louisiana students to include on their diplomas and better prepare them for higher education and career paths.

Students can engage in a program of study that combines computer science, engineering, and mathematics through hands-on projects and interaction with industry professionals. The pathway will immerse students in topics such as privacy and security, artificial intelligence ethics, device safety, and complex computing systems, students will be better prepared to compete in the 21st century cyber workforce.

Kevin Nolten, the director of academic outreach for NICERC says the only way to keep our country’s cyberspace safe is to prepare the next generation for cybersecurity careers.

“This is a huge win for the state of Louisiana and our country as a whole,” Nolten says. “We’ve seen a growing shortage of cybersecurity professionals and this cybersecurity pathway is an important step in lessening that gap. The more students aware of and interested in cybersecurity degrees and careers, the brighter the future looks for our nation.”

Pathway coursework prepares TOPS University and Jump Start TOPS Tech diploma-seeking students for cyber career paths by immersing them in the fundamentals of cyber as well as its impact and application in the workforce.

“All of our private information, pictures of our families and children, even most of our money and records of assets live on a server somewhere and are susceptible to cyber attacks,” Nolten says. “The fact is there aren’t enough trained cybersecurity professionals to fill all of the jobs out there, and we’re counting on the next generation to protect us.”

In order to better meet workforce demands, the Louisiana Department of Education, the Louisiana Board of Regents, the LaSTEM Council, and the Governor’s office have teamed up to ensure Louisiana’s students have exposure to STEM courses and credentials starting in elementary school and continuing through college. Louisiana STEM pathways are part of the Jump Start Initiative, Louisiana’s innovative career and technical education (CTE) program. These pathways better prepare students to seek a STEM degree in college or enter the workforce, having earned certifications in high-wage career sectors.
10 2019-06-18


BATON ROUGE (AP) — After a decade of stagnant financing or deep cuts, public education came out of Louisiana’s legislative session as one of the big winners, with new money for rising costs, pay raises and expansion plans.
State spending on higher education will grow by $47 million in the $30 billion-plus state operating budget that starts July 1. Early learning programs for children from birth to 4 years old will see up to $19 million in new state financing. K-12 public schools are getting $140 million in increased state dollars for the 2019-20 school year, largely tied to statewide pay raises for teachers and support workers.
“We kept our eye on the prize, the investment in our children,” Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards said shortly after the legislative session ended June 6.
Republicans and Democrats embraced increased education spending, plans made possible by a seven-year tax deal struck last year that stabilized Louisiana’s budget and ended years of financial uncertainty.
This year’s budget debates were a far cry from prior legislative sessions, when the TOPS tuition program was on the chopping block, public K-12 schools were told to be happy with standstill funding, and early childhood education wasn’t even discussed.
Still, education leaders had to grapple with partisan politics, overcome House/Senate disputes, and compete with a long line of groups vying for increased financing before reaching their victory.
Early childhood education advocates had to make their case directly to lawmakers.
Edwards didn’t initially propose new dollars for their programs, instead focusing on colleges and K-12 schools. The governor later backed boosted funding for early learning programs after a coalition of groups drew legislative and public attention.
“This is a huge win for families in our state and the reward for a unified voice from business, education, community, nonprofit and citizen advocates who spoke up loudly and forcibly,” Melanie Bronfin, policy director of the nonpartisan Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, said in a statement applauding the session’s outcome.
Of $19 million in new state financing the early learning programs may receive, nearly $4 million only comes if Harrah’s New Orleans casino hits a certain revenue benchmark. Another $4 million replaces lost federal funding to keep current student levels in a pre-K program for at-risk 4-year-olds.
The remaining $11 million will pay for child care assistance for 1,450 children on a waiting list for a program helping low-income parents who are in school or working. The dollars also will increase rates paid through that program. Even with the new money, Bronfin said more than 4,000 children will remain on the waiting list.
After seeing some of the nation’s deepest public funding cuts over the last decade, Louisiana’s college programs will see a $47 million increase. Nicholls State University President Jay Clune credited Edwards: “He has been a game-changer for us.”
Nearly one-third of the increase ensures TOPS, which is growing to $311 million in the 2019-20 school year, will cover full tuition for all eligible students. More than $9 million will help campuses cover growing health and retirement costs.
The University of Louisiana at Monroe’s pharmacy school is getting $5 million to help with expenses as it undergoes accreditation review. LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center will get money to recruit faculty. A nursing program will receive new dollars, along with the Southern University System and the LSU and Southern AgCenters. LSU’s New Orleans medical school will receive more than $2 million to pay a new lease arrangement with the Louisiana Cancer Research Center.
The biggest education spending increase benefits elementary and secondary schools.
Roughly 57,000 public school teachers and other certificated personnel such as school counselors and librarians are getting a $1,000 raise from the state. Another 39,000 support workers such as bus drivers and cafeteria staff will receive $500 salary hikes. And school districts are splitting $39 million in new discretionary money for operations.
“It is a good legislative session when our state invests in our schools,” Superintendent of Education John White said in a statement.
The school financing plan fulfills a promise Edwards made to education unions backing his campaign for a second term. He’s touting the funding hikes in “teacher roundtables” around Louisiana.
10 2019-05-31

Louisiana Senate approves $34 billion spending plan

The Louisiana Senate on Thursday voted 35-2 to approve a $34 billion operating budget for the state fiscal year that begins July 1.

House Bill 105 now goes back to the House of Representatives with a week left before the legislative session must end next Thursday.

The biggest disagreement between the House and Senate has been over how much to spend on K-12 education. Earlier on Thursday, the House Education Committee reversed its earlier opposition to the more expensive funding plan the Senate had approved, though House Appropriations Committee Chairman Cameron Henry said he wasn’t sure how senators had managed to pay for the plan.

In stark contrast with recent years, the debates this session have centered on how to spend new tax revenue, created by a combination of higher taxes and stronger economic performance, rather than where to cut. The budget includes more money for early child care and education, higher education, and health care. The TOPS scholarship program, often a source of heartburn, is fully funded.

Once inflation is taken into account, the budget represents a “very nominal increase in what we call the size of government,” said Sen. Eric LaFleur, the Senate Finance chairman. The state has about 55,000 employees today, he said, down from about 83,700 in 2010, with much of the decrease attributed to the privatization of state hospitals.

LaFleur characterized the budget as a way to begin investing more in areas that would improve the trajectory of the state, which often finishes at or near the bottom in quality-of-life rankings.

Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, called for amendments to fund sex education and increase funding for prenatal care and foster care. Peterson is strongly opposed to the state’s new strict anti-abortion law, and she said the money was needed to account for the fact that women and children will be forced to carry a pregnancy to term even when they are victims of rape. Those amendments were voted down.

Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a bill Thursday to make abortions illegal when a fetal heartbeat can be detected. The measure passed the House overwhelmingly on Wednesday.

Discussions over the spending of surplus funds in House Bill 286 turned testy when Sen. Mike Walsworth, R-Monroe, sought to redirect money earmarked for coastal protection to roads and bridges. The amendment failed 10-29.

“We need to protect our coast and protect our people,” said Sen. Eddie Lambert, R-Gonzales.

As the Senate prepared to leave for the evening, LaFleur announced that his Finance Committee would not take up a number of pending House-approved bills that, by his estimation, could cost the state more than $700 million over the next few years. The committee has been wary of measures with big fiscal notes and no mechanism to pay for them.
10 2019-05-31

Higher Education’s Digital Transformation

If higher education is to thrive, digital will be a big part of the answer.

We see this already.

Data analytics are beginning to drive decision making. Digital delivery, whether hybrid or fully online, is allowing institutions to serve existing students better while also reaching new markets — without building new classrooms and labs. Digital courseware, interactives, virtual labs, and simulations are allowing a growing number of faculty members to personalize instruction and make it more interactive. Mobile computing is making support services more accessible, allowing instructors to integrate remote learning experiences into their courses, and giving students opportunities to create digital projects: podcasts, course websites, digital stories, and apps.

Expenditures on higher education’s digital transformation are more likely to pay off than spending on facilities, equipment, and hardware.

The barriers to this transformation are great. Expertise, including expertise in instructional design and technology development, is in short supply. Start up costs are high. Legacy technologies abound, and, as a result, consolidating data across multiple silos is a task worthy of Sisyphus.

Vendors prey on institutions with promises to good to be true. Enterprise software requires extreme customization. Online program managers demand onerous contracts. Analytics require irretrievable historical data.

But the biggest challenge involves mindset. If higher education is to truly seize the opportunities offered by digital transformation, it must become more willing to think outside our incumbent boxes.

The digital economy does not conform to a traditional nine to five weekday schedule, and higher education, too, needs to operate outside its traditional academic structures and schedules: fixed start dates, fifteen week semesters, 3-credit hour courses, and 9-5 office hours.

Thinking outside these boxes isn’t easy. But we already see promising alternatives to business as usual especially at community colleges and fully online institutions: Programs with multiple start dates, six week courses, intensive boot camps.

A special challenge is providing services outside normal business hours. But this isn’t impossible. We already provide access to library and instructional resources 24/7.

Many students are online virtually all hours of the day and night. We need to make sure they have digital tools that will allow them to communicate with classmates, or reach out for academic help, at times most convenient to them.

Many faculty might be willing to teach at unconventional hours, if they can do so online from home.

But digital transformation will mean little if it isn’t accompanied by innovations in pedagogy.

Medical education provides a useful model. Med students, who are less and less willing to attend standard lecture classes, want an education that is more experiential, often taking place outside traditional classrooms: in clinical, laboratory, and community settings. Their education is increasingly technology mediated, involving virtual cadavers and surgical simulations, virtual rounds and even virtual interactions with computer simulated patients.

To be sure, we must make sure that higher education’s digital transformation doesn’t come at the expense of the essence of a high quality educational experience: rich relationships with instructors and classmates, substantive feedback from a genuine expert, and a sense of membership and active participation in an academic community.

We’ve learned what doesn't work in a digital environment: Passive spectatorship, lack of structure and scaffolding, the absence of genuine interaction and personalized feedback, and services tailored for full-time residential students.

We’ve seen horrors perpetrated in the names of access and affordability: Online programs that substitute “coaches” and “mentors” for faculty, courses that consist of little more than crude roadmaps to various Internet resources, and classes that offer training or instruction, but little in the way of substantive discussion, debate, and critical thinking in collaboration with colleagues.

In other words, if higher education’s digital transformation is to mark a genuine advance, it needs to leverage technologies to enhance the elements that make a higher education higher: communication, collaboration, constructive feedback, and active engagement in a shared experience of inquiry, analysis, interpretation, and problem solving.
10 2019-05-16
Baton Rouge

Bill would make prosecuting hazing cases easier

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The House’s education committee approved a bill Wednesday, May 15 that would require campus organizations and university officials to contact law enforcement as soon as they learn of any hazing allegations.

Under current law, organizations have 14 days to conduct an internal investigation to determine the accuracy of those allegations before notifying law enforcement. University officials are essentially excluded from that law and do not have to make initial reports to law enforcement, though they are expected to cooperate with investigations.

“Fourteen days is just way too long,” East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore said. “The quicker law enforcement can reach out and capture social social media and cell phone information and locate witnesses to get statements from them... it’s important.”

Moore noted that organization members are typically not comfortable offering witness testimony that might incriminate a fellow member, meaning physical evidence is especially important to the prosecution’s case.

But during a 14-day grace period, Moore says forensic evidence can wash away and students can delete potentially incriminating texts or videos.

“That’s what law enforcement was telling me was causing some issues,” said Rep. Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette.

Landry’s bill would require any organization officer or representative and any university official to report hazing allegations to police immediately after they’re made aware of the rumors, punishable by a $10,000 fine for failing to do so.

“Accountability is important in everything that we do,” UL System President Jim Henderson said. “It’s important that we send that lesson to our students to prepare them for what comes after college.”

The committee approved the bill without much debate. It now heads to the House floor, though it could be dual-referred to the Criminal Justice Committee before it reaches the Senate.
10 2017-05-05

Henderson: The issue is not funding per student

In response to The Daily Advertiser's Wednesday editorial:

Two factors go into the calculation of funding per student: funding and students. To change the result and move up in the rankings, Louisiana must either increase the numerator (funding) or decrease the denominator (students). The number of colleges and universities has no impact on this measure except that reducing access will almost certainly reduce the number of students served.

Is there an argument to be made about the structure of higher education and the number of institutions? Sure. Funding per student is not that argument. Distracting your readers from the true issue does them a disservice. That issue? Louisiana's continued disinvestment in higher education stifles our economic growth, threatens the competitiveness of our employers, and almost assures a lower quality of life for future generations.

For the record, Kentucky spend ~$30 more per capita and $1.32 more per $1000 in personal income on higher education than Louisiana. By any rational analysis, we are falling further behind.

I would be delighted to visit further. You may enjoy this video message:


— Dr. Jim Henderson is president of the University of Louisiana system.
10 2017-04-20
Baton Rouge

UL System students plead for higher education money

BATON ROUGE – University of Louisiana System student body presidents pleaded with the House Appropriations Committee today to fully fund higher education.

The current iteration of House Bill 1, which determines the state’s budget for the coming fiscal year, would cut $18 million from state colleges and universities. The UL System includes Nicholls State University.

Northwestern State University’s John Pearce and Southeastern University’s Erin Fernandez testified in opposition to cuts that Pearce said would “cripple” the state’s regional universities.

“UL System colleges cannot keep shielding students from budget cuts,” Pearce said, adding that Louisiana would need to invest another $560 million in higher education to provide students the same financial support Mississippi students receive.

“The return on a $1 investment in a Louisiana student is $12. If we want to save this state, we need to educate the youth. We’re just asking for the fulfillment of a promise that was made.”

Reps. Beryl Amedee, R-Houma, and Jack McFarland, R-Jonesboro, asked Pearce and Fernandez how students they represent feel about some proposed changes to financial aid.

Neither student embraced propositions that would raise TOPS standards, like requiring 15 hours of coursework or a 3.0 GPA to be eligible for aid.

“Taking 15 hours is not ideal for all students,” Pearce said. “Biology majors, for example, may take eight classes that only count for 16 hours. I’m a communications major – 15 hours for me is simply five classes.”

“I worry about students who struggle initially, but have great potential and students with learning disabilities,” Fernandez said, after a thoughtful sigh.

Pearce says he believes Louisiana students would not be opposed to additional academic accountability, but the state should ensure that changes to TOPS are fair.

Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington, asked the student body presidents to come up with their own plan for TOPS and deliver it to the Legislature.

“I didn’t expect to get homework, but that’s a fair charge,” Pearce said. “As the money dissipates, I’m afraid enrollment will too. We have to do something; that’s why we came today.”

Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge, said universities must embrace the challenge of restructuring their coursework so that students can earn their degrees in four years. Most committee members lamented an apparent shift in education toward a six-year degree plan.

Smith joked that it’s possible to have fun after graduation, and praised Southeastern University’s “Promise” program, which is designed to help students graduate in four years.
10 2017-04-20
Baton Rouge

UL System fetes Louisiana legislators

About 800 college students from across the state served lunch to Louisiana legislators Wednesday and talked about the need to fully fund higher education.

“We think they (legislators) need to see these bright, articulate Louisiana leaders who are being educated in Louisiana universities,” said Jim Henderson, president of the University of Louisiana System. “Our message is we need to stabilize higher education funding and make it more predictable.”

The lawmakers are in the midst of vetting a state spending plan that currently includes $2.27 billion for higher education for the fiscal year that begins July 1. That’s down from $2.29 billion from the current fiscal year.


Our Views: Foolish consistency of higher education cuts will be downfall of Louisiana colleges
Our Views: Foolish consistency of higher education cuts will be downfall of La. colleges
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, but it will be a downfall of Louisia…
But that’s total dollars, the amount state government has appropriated to the colleges universities has dropped from $1.5 billion in 2008 to $825 million proposed for next year.

Though total budgets have hovered around the $2 billion level for more than a decade, students and their families are now paying the portion that taxpayers once contributed.

The nine universities of the UL System have about 90,000 students and an operating budget of about $784 million, only 30 percent of which comes from state appropriations. University of Louisiana at Lafayette President E. Joseph Savoie said the real issue is stability. A series of budgets over the past nine years has worried faculty and students alike.

“How can I keep faculty when they’re offered more pay, better labs and a more stable environment,” Savoie said. “Higher education needs stability. These are long-term enterprises that need to make decisions projected into the future.”


'It's a burden on the state': Students taking too long to earn college degrees, regents' chairman says
'It's a burden on the state': Students taking too long to earn college degrees, regents' chairman says
Students are taking too long to earn undergraduate college degrees, the chairman of the stat…
Student body leaders from the UL System later shared their concerns with the House Appropriations Committee during a hearing on the budget. But the reception wasn’t warm.

Erin Fernandez, student body president at Southeastern, said students are increasingly picking up a bigger piece of the tab for funding universities, while schools continue to face cuts.

"I just don't see how we will be able to sustain much longer," she said.

"It sometimes seems like people are more worried about the next time LSU will beat Alabama," said John B. Pearce, student body president at Northwestern State.

Their comments didn't sit well with at least one legislator, though.

Rep. Larry Bagley, R-Stonewall, quizzed them about whether they themselves are active voters and whether they encourage other students to be active voters. He said he felt that the students were "fussing" at the lawmakers over the budget, which he accused college students of also carrying out via Facebook and private text messages.

"I just couldn't resist as I took that lashing that maybe we needed to turn it around a little bit," Bagley said. "When you fuss at me about something, you need to be ready to receive."

Elizabeth Crisp of The Advocate Capitol news bureau contributed to this report
10 2017-02-03

Senator plans to honor Jimmy Long's legacy

Political legend Jimmy Long, who died in a car accident last summer, may soon be memorialized in the name of the school for which he was the catalyst in the 1980s while serving in the Louisiana House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 1 by Sen. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, would add Long's name to the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts. It will be debated during the regular Legislative Session that begins in April.

"He was without question the most significant person in founding this amazing school in Louisiana," said Thompson, who was a colleague of Long's in the House. "We were together in North Carolina touring a similar school and I said, 'This would make a good fit in Delhi,' and he said, 'But it would make a better fit in Natchitoches (Long's hometown).'"

Long, who served in the House from 1968-2000, authored the legislation creating the school and placing it on the Northwestern State University campus in Natchitoches.

It was the second state-supported residential school of its kind. The first was the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, which Long and Thompson visited.

"It's one of the premier schools in the country," Thompson said. "It's an outstanding center where students from all over the state can come and pursue their academic dreams."

Long also served on the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors after his retirement from the House and until his death.


University of Louisiana System President Jim Henderson, formerly the Northwestern State president, was close to Long.

"Anything that honors the memory of an education giant like Jimmy Long is a good thing," Henderson said. "I know how instrumental he was in creating what has become one of the nation's finest public high schools.

"He had many accomplishments in promoting and improving education in this state, but the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts might have been his hallmark."

His brother is Sen. Gerald Long, R-Natchitoches, the last link the Long family political dynasty of Huey and Earl.

"He had an uncanny ability to bring people together, to bring the best out of people," his brother Gerald said at Jimmy Long's funeral.

Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1

10 2017-02-01

Louisiana universities issue statements on travel ban

The University of Louisiana System and some of its schools issued statements this week about President Donald Trump's executive order barring travel from seven countries.

"The Universities of Louisiana provide campus cultures of inclusion that offer students the opportunity to develop their natural talents," UL System President Jim Henderson said. "We welcome students and faculty from around the globe who contribute to the diverse learning culture only available on a college campus. Our universities are working closely with students, faculty and staff who may be impacted by the executive order."

UL has 677 international students and scholars from 98 countries.

"We value immensely the work of our faculty and staff from the U.S. as well as those from other countries including employees from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen," Henderson said. "Our international students and faculty are a vital part of our campus communities who contribute greatly to the missions of our universities."

Northwestern State University's Acting President Dr. Chris Maggio expressed support for the university's international students and faculty saying, "Northwestern has historically maintained a culture of diversity that focuses on respect for all of its students and faculty regardless of race, gender, creed or national origin.

"We will maintain that spirit of diversity by providing assistance and support in every way possible for those in the NSU family that are affected by the immigration policy."

Maggio said Northwestern has resources available to its more than 100 international students from 21 countries and international faculty members.

Students with questions or concerns may contact the International Student Resource Center in Room 230 of Russell Hall. Center director Telba Espinoza-Contreras may be reached at contrerast@nsula.edu. or by calling 318-357-5939. Vivian Pedroza, graduate assistant at the center, can be reached at Vpedrozaoo6310@nsula.edu or 318-357-5937.

Faculty with questions or concerns should contact Chief Academic Officer Dr. Vickie Gentry at 318-357-5361 or by email at gentry@nsula.edu.

"We want to reassure our students who may be uneasy about the repercussions of the new immigration policy that we are here to assist them," Espinoza-Contreras said. "Our university is better because of its international students, and we offer support to them and the international community here."

University of Louisiana at Lafayette President Joseph Savoie's statement said in part, "the University remains firmly committed to supporting all of our international students, faculty and their families."

"I would also like to reaffirm that the university expects everyone to show respect to students and faculty of all backgrounds, ethnicities, religious beliefs, genders, sexual orientations and political affiliations," Savoie added.

UL Lafayette faculty members with questions or concerns can contact the Office of Academic Affairs in Martin Hall, Room 231, (337) 482-6454 or provost@louisiana.edu. Counseling for UL Lafayette students and faculty is available at the Counseling and Testing Center in Saucier Wellness Center, (337) 482-6480, counseling@louisiana.edu.


10 2017-02-01

UL System: From Sudan to Iran, welcome

The University of Louisiana System, whose nine member campuses include the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, expressed support for faculty, staff and students from the seven "countries of concern" listed in President Donald Trump's executive order last week.

"The universities of Louisiana provide campus cultures of inclusion that offer students the opportunity to develop their natural talents," the system said in an issued statement Tuesday. "We welcome students and faculty from around the globe who contribute to the diverse learning culture only available on a college campus.

"Our universities are working closely with students, faculty and staff who may be impacted by the executive order. We value immensely the work of our faculty and staff from the U.S. as well as those from other countries including employees from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

"Our international students and faculty are a vital part of our campus communities who contribute greatly to the missions of our universities."

Trump issued an order last week that said immigrant and non-immigrant entry to the U.S. would be suspended for 90 days. He also suspended refugee admissions for 120 days. The order was followed by confusion among international travelers at airports in the U.S. and abroad.

Cami Geisman, communication director for the UL System, said its 90,000 students at nine Louisiana campuses include representatives of all seven countries — 51 students in all. UL has 10 students and four faculty members from the affected countries, she said.

She said Louisiana Tech in Ruston has representatives of five of the seven countries; McNeese State University in Lake Charles has representatives of the other two countries.

Last year, she said, no students from Sudan or Somalia attended UL System campuses, which include Grambling State University, Louisiana Tech University, McNeese State University, Nicholls State University, Northwestern State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the University of Louisiana at Monroe and the University of New Orleans.

10 2017-01-30
Associated Press

Louisiana Spotlight: Budget cut worries take hold in Louisiana, again

Angela Lorio is tired of the begging, tired of the trips to the Louisiana State Capitol to plead to shield the services that provide for her disabled son and so many others like him. But she's gearing up to do it again.

Lorio, whose 3-year-old son John Paul uses a tube to breathe and requires round-the-clock monitoring, is among the many parents who rely on the state for assistance to help them keep their children at home.

"All we're asking for is to not have to bury some of our children because of budget cuts," Lorio said. "I am so tired, and I am road weary, battle weary, whatever you want to call it. It's beyond frustrating. It's unconscionable."

Parents like Lorio are readying to pack House and Senate committee rooms, urging lawmakers not to cut those health programs as they look for ways to rebalance Louisiana's budget and eliminate a $304 million deficit.

They're among an array of advocacy groups, business organizations, lobbyists and others who use state programs that are worrying about what the budget rebalancing will look like and who will end up on the chopping block.

Gov. John Bel Edwards is planning a mid-February special legislative session to close the deficit, and he'd like to use $119 million from the state's "rainy day" fund to help lessen the pain of the reductions.

Some Republican lawmakers are hesitant — or have outright balked — at the idea of tapping into a state savings account for a temporary fix, saying Louisiana needs to make permanent cuts to better match the state's spending to its income.

That would mean steeper cuts and a greater threat to public colleges, K-12 education and health services for the poor, elderly and disabled, which are among the state's biggest spending areas.

A first draft of a budget-cutting proposal, released by Rep. Lance Harris, leader of the House Republican delegation, got folks jittery — suggesting nearly half the deficit should be eliminated by cutting the state health department and the rainy day fund money shouldn't be used.

Lorio, co-founder of the group Trach Mommas of Louisiana, quickly got to work, hitting social media sites with pleas to protect the services her son and others with disabilities receive. She wants lawmakers to use the rainy day fund to lessen any cuts.

"To me, that should be a no-brainer," she said.

The Louisiana Hospital Association, worried about cuts to hospital payments, released a statement citing the jobs and patient care the facilities provide around the state. Individual hospitals did the same.

"It's important to realize how cuts will further damage Louisiana's economy. Hospitals are one of Louisiana's largest private employers, employing nearly 100,000 people directly and 300,000 indirectly," hospital association president Paul Salles said in a statement. "Severe cuts to an industry so vital to both local and state economies would be short sighted."

Health care isn't the only area to draw concern.

Higher education leaders are privately laying out their cases to lawmakers, worried about a second cut after taking a hit earlier this state financial year. The education union Louisiana Federation of Teachers warned that cuts to K-12 public schools "would devastate our cash-strapped education system," a concern echoed by organizations representing public school principals, superintendents and local school boards.

Nine coastal restoration organizations chimed in, suggesting that cuts to the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority could keep it "from effectively playing the essential role of restoring and protecting our coast," which is vital to the state's future.

The onslaught of concern demonstrates the difficult task awaiting Edwards and lawmakers in closing the gap in Louisiana's $27 billion operating budget. No matter where the cuts hit, they will have real impact, compounded because only five months remain before the fiscal year ends June 30 to make the reductions.

Lorio and other parents intend to be in Baton Rouge, reminding lawmakers about their worries.

"We are not going away. We're going to be there. We're going to show up," she said. "We're going to show up in droves."

Melinda Deslatte has covered Louisiana politics for The Associated Press since 2000.

10 2017-01-30
Baton Rouge

International students at Louisiana universities unclear of future under Trump's executive orders

Ramun Murad already knew there would be uncertainty in his future as he prepares to graduate from LSU. Now, there are far more questions about his future after President Donald Trump issued two executive orders limiting the admission and travel of foreign nationals from seven countries to the U.S.

Murad, 33, came to the U.S. from Syria for his education in 2005 and started on his Ph.D. in English at LSU in 2011.

Murad is among the international students at Louisiana's colleges and universities voicing uncertainty about what Trump’s executive orders will mean to them.

After the orders were released, many foreign nationals were detained in U.S. airports for hours over the weekend, and counter protests, including two in New Orleans, were launched against the moves.

There is now a 90-day ban on travel to the U.S. by foreign nationals from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. Trump also suspended the U.S.’s refugee program for 120 days while his administration revises immigration procedures. The action also indefinitely blocks entry by anyone from Syria, including those seeking refuge from civil war.

Though Murad says he does not believe he will be sent home immediately, his student visa will expire upon graduation. As a Syrian citizen, he also has Temporary Protective Status because of the country’s civil war. That status, however, will expire in April of 2018 unless Congress renews it.

After a break in his U.S. studies for a visit to family in Syria, Murad returned to the U.S. in August of 2011 just as “the civil war was in its inception,” he said. “Things were starting to get really troubling. They were getting really messy, but I managed to get my visa and come to the U.S. … My whole family was in harm’s way on more than one occasion.”

Erfan Ghiasi, a Muslim LSU student from Iran, is preparing to complete his first year of a three-year photography master's program. His student visa, however, will last only two years unless he can get an extension.

Ghiasi, 27, was able to travel home over the winter break, unlike Murad who has not been home in six years, but Ghiasi too is unsure what this executive order means for him.

“I’m not able to see my parents … and I cannot leave the country because maybe I will be rejected to come back here,” Ghiasi said. “(My parents) have no idea what is going on here and they feel bad but we don’t know what they are going to say.”

Tulane University student Giulia Duch Clerici, 20, grew up in Barcelona, Spain, but first came to the U.S. for her father's job with the World Bank when she was 14 years old.

She was in the JFK airport border patrol office less than a week ago to process her green card — a process to gain permanent residency — and she said the tension was palpable even then. After she graduates in May, she hopes to stay in the U.S. She says the diversity in this country has been a big factor in her decision to stay here to study economics and political science.

Murad, who is applying for full-time teaching positions in the U.S., still feels hopeful that everything will work out better than it currently seems.

“It depends really on the details of the executive action, but to reject people’s visa applications or refugee applications, to not look at their individual cases … that’s a little unfair to them.”

In the meantime, Murad and Ghiasi said, they do not plan to travel outside of the U.S. That is exactly the advice immigration lawyer Kathleen Gasparian gave in a telephone interview with The Advocate while she was attending one of the protests in New Orleans.


Protesters gathered in New Orleans among demonstrations across the country rallying against Trump's travel ban
Protesters gathered in New Orleans among demonstrations across the country rallying against Trump's travel ban
NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump's immigration order sowed more chaos and outrage acro…
Gasparian, who also teaches at Loyola University New Orleans and at Tulane University, said she started having conversations with her clients earlier in the presidential election about what Trump’s immigration policies could mean for them.

“Since the election my clients have been reaching out to me, afraid of what this administration means to their status in the U.S. or their ability to travel in and out of the U.S. or their ability to bring their families to the U.S.

"The executive orders over the past few days have made people instead of afraid in the theoretical sense, afraid in reality,” she said.

Southern University law professor Jeremy Jong, who is also an immigration attorney, said he has felt the fear from his clients. Jong has responded by rallying fellow lawyers to organize and assist immigrants.

Jong also noted that although similar policies under Obama also were problematic, there was not as much fear then.

That feeling of security, he says, is now gone.


Trump issues statement regarding immigration order
Trump issues statement regarding immigration order
President Donald Trump released a statement on Facebook Sunday regarding the executive order…
Ghiasi, meanwhile, is focusing on his art, which often compares life in Iran to life in the U.S.

"I feel like I'm not alone because I can feel empathy from other people," he said. "We are here to have life. We are here to understand our fellow students. It's hard to see that someone is taking the freedom … because I'm born in another country."

Gasparian said there is a lot that still needs to be worked out.

“If you are here in the U.S. and you are maintaining status, you came in with permission and you’re doing what you’re supposed to do, then you shouldn't be afraid,” she said. "What we’ve seen over the past couple of days though is nobody is quite sure. We’re still shaking it out.”

10 2017-01-03


UL System names new president

The Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System held a special board meeting to unanimously vote to appoint Jim Henderson as its new system president.
Henderson is the sitting president at Northwestern State University and previously served as chancellor of Bossier Parish Community College.

The UL System includes Louisiana Tech and Grambling State Universities.

The Shreveport native will start his new role today after succeeding Interim System President Dan Reneau, a former Tech president.

10 2016-12-27

Louisiana college students are about to lose half their scholarship money

Aja Jefferson, a freshman at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, needs to come up with $1,300 more for tuition next semester -- and so do tens of thousands of other Louisiana college students.
The cash-strapped state has pulled scholarship funding out from under them, raising their tuition cost for the spring semester to 50% more than they had expected.
For Jefferson and others, the cut might mean they'll be taking on more student debt. It might mean they need to pick up another job. And for some, it just might put graduation out of reach.
"There will be students who drop out. We don't know how many, but it will probably be the students with the most need," said Dan Reneau, the Interim President of the University of Louisiana system who oversees nine universities and 90,000 students.
The Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, known as TOPS, is one of the most generous, merit-based state scholarships in the nation. Until now, it covered the entire cost of tuition for Louisiana students as long as they graduated from high school in-state and met two academic requirements: a 2.5 high school GPA in core classes and at least an average standardized test score.
Those who attend a public school get enough money to cover the full tuition bill, plus extra for students with higher grades and test scores. Students who go to a private college are also eligible, but the scholarship probably won't cover the entire tuition bill.
TOPS is a "great, unique strength of the state" and a "huge benefit" for those students who may not otherwise be able to go to college, said Rhonda Kalifey-Aluise, director of the KIPP charter schools in New Orleans.
For Jefferson, it was also a big motivator.
"For people in low-income families like me, TOPS is the only thing that can help us go to college. We try to do well and get higher grades just to get TOPS," said Jefferson.
The New Orleans native is the first in her family to go to college. Jefferson chose UL Lafayette for its nursing program (she's always wanted to be a nurse) and because she would receive TOPS if she chose this school over one out of state.
Related: This is how much college costs this year
Across the country, tuition is going up faster than family's incomes while state funding has declined.
But the cuts in Louisiana are more severe. Its funding for public colleges has fallen 39% since 2008, more than almost any other state, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Meanwhile, tuition rose an average of $3,500 in Louisiana during that time period.
It shouldn't have been a surprise that TOPS was the next domino to fall. The state is facing an historic $600 million budget shortfall and needed an emergency legislative session last year to fix the state's finances. It was at that time in the spring when lawmakers said TOPS would not be fully funded for the 2016-2017 school year.
They front-loaded the money so that students received nearly what was expected for the current fall semester, but the amount was slashed in half for the spring.
Governor John Bel Edwards criticized that tactic for giving "false hope" to Louisiana students and parents that lawmakers would be able to find some more funding before January. They haven't, and the next legislative session doesn't begin until April.
"When we heard about the cuts, everyone was so scared that they weren't going to be able to go to college," Jefferson said.
That's because many high school students count on getting this money. Going forward, it's unclear what will happen to TOPS. But, legislation that passed in the spring makes it unlikely that awards will get bigger as tuition rises without specific legislative approval. In the past, it automatically matched the cost of tuition.
"This changes their strategy. More students will be looking out of state for college," said Kalifey-Aluise.
Related: There's a hunger problem on America's college campuses
There are dozens of legislative proposals for reforming TOPS, which has grown to cover more students and cost $300 million a year before the cuts.
Some proposals keep qualifications more or less the same, but make the scholarship less generous. The Louisiana College Access Coalition is fighting to make sure low-income students continue to receive TOPS. They propose a tiered structure that would give kids from higher-income families less money than those from poor families. This structure, the group says, would save the program money while making sure every qualifying student still gets some money.
louisiana students drop out
Others proposals would make it harder for students to qualify for the scholarship, by requiring better grades or taking more classes. Some lawmakers want to keep scholarship amounts equal for every student who makes the grades to receive TOPS.
State Senator Dan Morrish, who chairs the Senate Committee on Education, told CNNMoney that the cost of TOPS needs to be contained. He advocates for keeping the scholarships merit-based.
"There are lots of other opportunities for need-based students, like Pell Grants, and private scholarship programs. The intent of TOPS has always been merit-based," he said.
For now, some colleges and groups like KIPP are working to try to fill in the funding gap for current TOPS recipients who might need it for the spring semester. That will be difficult for colleges that already receive less money from the state. They won't be able to give extra money to every student, or cover the entire cost.
Whether or not TOPS will be fully funded next school year won't be decided until after the next legislative session begins in March.
Are you hurt by the TOPS cut? Email Katie.Lobosco@cnn.com to share your story.

10 2016-12-09

Louisiana university presidential searches wrapping up

A few Louisiana universities will see new leadership in the new year. Four schools in separate public higher education systems recently filled top positions or will look to do so soon.

As Jim Henderson shifts into his new role as president of the University of Louisiana System officially Jan. 1, he steps away from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. He's led his alma mater as president for the last two years.

This move will mean the start of a presidential search for NSU. In the meantime Chris Maggio will serve as acting president after an appointment Thursday by the Board of Supervisors of the University of Louisiana System.

Maggio will serve from Jan. 1 through June 30 as the board conducts a national search for Henderson’s permanent replacement, according to an NSU release.

The ULS Board of Supervisors is in the process of appointing a search committee to start the search immediately.

"We hope to have the inaugural meeting (of the committee) in January," said Cami Geisman, communication director for the system. "We will follow the usual timeline for presidential searches, and, if we are successful, a new president will be named by July 1."

Chris Maggio, vice president for the student experience
Chris Maggio, vice president for the student experience at Northwestern State University, will serve as acting president of the college from Jan. 1 to June 30. (Photo: NSU Photolab/Gary Hardamon)
Henderson recommended Maggio, who was named vice president for the student experience at Northwestern State in September after serving as interim vice president for just more than a year. He will maintain his role as vice president for the student experience while serving as acting president, according to the school.


inRead invented by Teads

The Louisiana State University System named a new leader for one of its four schools in November after a lengthy national search. Guiyou Huang starts his new job as chancellor of LSU of Alexandria Jan. 1.

Huang, 54, currently is the senior vice president for academic affairs, dean of the faculty and professor of English at Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont.

Guiyou Huang has been named the next chancellor of
Guiyou Huang has been named the next chancellor of LSU of Alexandria. He visited the campus and addressed stakeholders in early November. (Photo: Miranda Klein/The Town Talk)
The Southern University System currently is in a search for the next president of Southern University-New Orleans. After serving about five months as interim chancellor, Lisa Mims-Devezin was named chancellor of the school in late November.

She served as dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at the school before the interim role. She was one of two finalists selected by a 19-member search committee, according to SUNO. The committee was charged with screening and recommending final candidates to replace Victor Ukpolo, who stepped down June 30.

The Louisiana Community and Technical College System is wrapping up a comprehensive nationwide search to fill the position of chancellor of Baton Rouge Community College. The search process began over the summer, finalists were named in November and a recommendation for chancellor is expected at the Dec. 14 system board meeting, according to LCTCS.

The BRCC chancellor finalists in alphabetical order are: Vladimir "Alex" Appeaning, Ph.D., assistant vice president for policy, Louisiana Community and Technical College System; Helen Benjamin, Ph.D., chancellor, Contra Costa Community College District, California; Julie Foster, J.D., campus president, Elkhart County Campus of Ivy Tech Community College, Indiana; Michael Heindl, J.D., Ph.D., executive vice president, administration and finance, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Mississippi; and Larissa Littleton-Steib, Ph.D., vice chancellor, workforce development and technical education, Delgado Community College, Louisiana.
10 2016-12-05

La. Tech, Louisiana-Lafayette, Grambling going bowling

Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Lafayette and Grambling State are joining LSU in a postseason bowl game this season.

Louisiana Tech will face Navy in the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 23.

The Bulldogs (8-5) lost to Western Kentucky in the Conference USA championship game on Saturday.

The Midshipmen (9-3) had a contractual agreement all season to play in the game on TCU's campus, as long as they were bowl eligible. The only thing that would have changed that is if they had finished as the top-ranked league champion from the Group of Five conferences.

But Navy lost at home to Temple in the American Athletic Conference championship game, while Western Michigan won the MAC championship to remain undefeated and earn the berth in the Cotton Bowl.

Louisiana-Lafayette will be heading to the New Orleans Bowl for the fifth time in six seasons and will face Southern Mississippi on Dec. 17.

The Ragin’ Cajuns won three of its final four games to earn bowl eligibility.

The Golden Eagles (6-6, 4-4 Conference USA) and Ragin' Cajuns (6-6, 5-3 Sun Belt) are familiar foes, facing each for the 52nd time. Southern Miss has a 39-11-1 advantage in the series.

Southern Miss is in a bowl for a second straight year and the 12th time in the past 15 seasons.

And it'll be SWAC champion Grambling State (10-1) and MEAC champion North Carolina Central (9-2) squaring off on Dec. 17 at the Celebration Bowl in Atlanta. That pairing was finalized Saturday.

LSU will face Louisville on Dec. 31 in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

10 2016-11-03

Who wants to be a college president in Louisiana?

It's a tough time for higher education in Louisiana.

Nearly a decade of state budget cuts, tuition hikes, layoffs and lack of raises also make it hard to lead higher ed in Louisiana.

While the American Council on Education put the average tenure of an American college president at seven years in 2011, in Louisiana terms have been shorter.

Some officials argue that short terms can lead to "yo-yo policies" and overall instability on campus that is felt from top administrators to students. Shorter terms also mean less time to complete a president's mission and follow through on promises.

Within three public higher ed systems in the state, no president or chancellor has been in place more than eight years.

Four started between 2008 and 2010, and the remaining 12 positions were filled in the past three years. A few top spots currently are open and held by interim leaders.

"I don't think it's a good trend," interim University of Louisiana System President Dan Reneau said. "You lose the history, the commitment" that comes with being part of a school for many years.

And the average "lifespan" of a college president is "hardly enough time" to implement policies and accomplish what needs to be done at a college, he said.

READ MORE: Budget cuts not the only reason behind shorter tenures for college leaders | Louisiana students facing big TOPS cuts this spring

Paul Doeg, president and chief operating officer for R.H. Perry & Associates, puts the average turnover rate for college presidents at five to seven years.

R.H. Perry provides counsel to higher education groups seeking leadership and has been involved in recent searches with the UL System.

Dan Reneau is interim president of the University of
Dan Reneau is interim president of the University of Louisiana System. (Photo: COURTESY PHOTO)
The instability that comes from seeing quick changes in leadership is felt across campuses, hurting faculty, staff and students in the long run, too.

Reneau has seen it.

"(A president every year or two) is not the goal," Reneau said. "That does not lead to stability. I saw that very real at Grambling State University. Students feel disenfranchised maybe from yo-yo policies from different presidents every year."

While five years is too short, he said, a president's tenure doesn't have to be decades-long like his was. Reneau was president of Louisiana Tech University for 26 years.

He puts eight to 10 years as an ideal term length for a college president. There is only one of those in Louisiana right now.

READ MORE: Child care costs more than college | College presidents: Amendment #2 vital to higher ed

Here's a look at leaders in three of the state's public higher education systems and how long they've been in at their institutions:

Joseph Savoie has been president at University of Louisiana for eight years, starting in 2008. Among three of the state's public higher education systems, Savoie has been leading an institution the longest.
Coming in at a close second, John Crain became interim president of Southeastern Louisiana University in 2008 and officially the president a year later. Leaders of McNeese State and University of Louisiana at Monroe have been in place six years.
But the UL System also has several new presidents. The latest was named in July with Rick Gallot at Grambling, but Northwestern State is soon to enter a search for its next president.
More than half of the system’s presidents have been in that position three years or less. Two were named this year — UNO’s in March and Grambling’s in July.
That trend continues through other higher ed systems in the state. Of the four current leaders of the LSU System, the longest-serving came to the system in 2013. The system currently is in a search for LSUA’s next president.
Each chancellor in the Southern University System has been in that position less than two years. The system currently is in a search for SUNO’s next president.
'We were once state-funded'

Reneau called short terms of leadership a bad trend and said reversing it will take a significant change in how Louisiana treats its public higher ed institutions.

Dan Howard was chancellor of Louisiana State University
Dan Howard was chancellor of Louisiana State University of Alexandria from March 2014 to August 2016. (Photo: Courtesy)
"It takes dollars to make a system viable," Reneau said. "We're going in the wrong direction."

State government has continued to "disinvest" in higher education, slashing operating budgets since 2008 and leading to "efficiencies" and ways to cut costs, even at the highest level.

Both the Southern University System and the LSU System consolidated the positions of system president and chancellor of their flagship institutions in recent years.

Former LSU of Alexandria President Dan Howard, who retired Aug. 1, often summed up this trend as moving from state-funded universities to schools that are state in name only.

"We were once state-funded, then we were state-supported, then state-assisted and now just about state-abandoned," Howard said about LSUA. "A few states are already like that."

Schools have shifted from a funding model that was 70 percent state appropriations and 30 percent self-generated revenues, such as tuition and fees, to one that is the opposite.

That can impact whether or not someone wants to become a leader in higher education in Louisiana right now.

"I think that the obvious challenge (to applicants) is the state support for public higher education in Louisiana," Doeg said.

It can affect the recruiting process, as people across the country are aware of budget constraints in Louisiana. As Doeg puts it, "It's been in the news."

"I find some candidates really want to go to states where they feel they can make a difference while also feeling reciprocal appreciation from the state," he said.

Reneau echoed that, saying it also impacts retainment of university presidents.

"Good people need to want to stay, and they need incentives to stay," Reneau said, explaining that a supportive environment is an incentive. "It's a combination of caring and funding."

But some potential candidates might be looking for a challenge like a budget crisis.

"Some warm to the challenge of doing more with less," Doeg said. "I would say an equal number of candidates are not phased (by these challenges)."

That was the case for Howard, who came to LSUA from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Ark. He said the challenges LSUA was facing attracted him.

He’s not the kind of guy to want to head to a “well-oiled machine” where everything’s going smoothly.

"That’s not my type of job," he said.

He needs one where there are areas he can work on and improve, so he applied and eventually was named chancellor.

During his two and a half years at the Alexandria school he saw significant increases to enrollment and the financial reserve fund, among other smaller improvements like adding a student health center and improving dining services.

His advice to current college leaders facing challenges like those in Louisiana is make what you have work for you and find ways to be competitive.

He also calls for leaders to act more like private institutions that are more reliant on tuition and fees.

"You need more presidents and chancellors looking outward than before to raise funds," he said. "They would operate like a CEO. Then you have the provost position who is like a chief operating officer."

While he thinks education across the nation "will flourish," he does expect it continue along its current path.

"I think what’s going to ultimately happen … is the general trend of dwindling state appropriations is going to continue," Howard said. "You need to replace (state funds) with philanthropic support – planned gifts – and corporate support and then tuition and fees."

How much has Louisiana 'disinvested' in higher ed?

A 2014 report from the Center for American Progress showed Louisiana cut its annual higher education budget by more than $459 million between fiscal years 2008 and 2012.

That's a drop of 28 percent in four years, and the trend has continued in the four years since.

State funding in Louisiana increased almost 6 percent from 2015 to 2016, but it's down 25 percent for the last five years, according to the Grapevine report, which is conducted annually by the Center for the Study of Education Policy at Illinois State University and the State Higher Education Executive Officers.

State cuts translated into decreased support for individual students, the Times-Picayune reported.

Louisiana spent 37.8 percent less on full-time equivalent college students in 2012 than it spent in 2008, placing the state near the bottom of the rankings in the Center for American Progress' report' titled "A Great Recession, A Great Retreat."

To combat that drop in revenue from the state, universities have upped tuition and fees.

According to College Board, average tuition and fees for in-state schools went from $4,733 in 2010-11 to $7,871 in 2015-16. That's a 66-percent increase.

It's about more than money

Doeg said turnover is not uncommon when it comes to higher ed leaders, and the decrease in the average tenure of a president could be the result of several things.

One has to do with changing priorities, which can be a natural change at colleges.

For example, say a college is in need of a leader to turn it around from a crisis like low enrollment or financial issues. A leader with a specific skill set to face that challenge is chosen, and once the school turns a corner in the crisis, other challenges become priorities and perhaps a different leader is needed to face them.

An important skill set for today's college president includes understanding technology. While a background in IT isn't necessary, it helps if a candidate can operate in an increasingly digital world of online education and social media.

Doeg suspects another reason for high turnover is that people who succeed are highly sought after for other jobs.

But pay hasn't been much of an issue.

His experience in working on searches within Louisiana is that college president salaries here are competitive to what other sates offer, he said.

Doeg has been part of nearly 250 searches over the past 15 years, including a few with the University of Louisiana System.

The R.H. Perry firm has done more than 1,000 searches across the country since 1975. Its most recent search in Louisiana was for president of the UL System, a position filled Oct. 6.

While some schools have had rocky leadership patterns, there are steadier ones, like Joseph Savoie at UL Lafayette, Philip Williams at McNeese and Nick Bruno at ULM.

Another challenge Doeg has seen in states like Louisiana is open meeting and records law that makes a public university's search open to the public.

It's a challenge at times in the minds of a candidate who is interested but wants to stay confidential for as long as possible, perhaps because of his or her current job.

"That hasn't precluded us from attracting very strong candidates (for Louisiana jobs)," he said. "I feel like we've hit our marks for the Board of Supervisors."

List of Louisiana presidents at schools and their tenure

LSU System:

LSU – F. King Alexander, 2013, also system president
LSUA – Dan Howard retired Aug. 1 after two years, interim chancellor in place during search
LSUE – Kimberly Russell, 2015
LSUS – Lawrence Clark, 2014
UL System:

Grambling State University – Rick Gallot, July 2016
Louisiana Tech – Les Guice, 2013
McNeese State – Philip Williams, 2010
Nicholls State – Bruce Murphy, 2013
Northwestern State – Jim Henderson, 2015 – will lead ULS Jan. 1
Southeastern Louisiana University – John Crain, 2009 officially but interim during 2008
University of Louisiana at Lafayette – Joseph Savoie, 2008
University of Louisiana at Monroe – Nick Bruno, 2010
University of New Orleans – John Nicklow, March 2016
Southern University System:

Southern in BR – Ray Belton, 2015, also system president
Southern-Shreveport – Rodney Ellis, February 2016
SUNO – interim chancellor in place since July 1. Victor Ukpolo retired June 30.
10 2016-10-28
Baton Rouge

Bernie Sanders urging defeat of Louisiana tuition amendment, officials say -- yes, that Bernie Sanders

Former Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders is urging his Louisiana backers to oppose a constitutional amendment that would allow colleges and universities to raise tuition rates, officials said Thursday.

The issue surfaced during a meeting of the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors, which like other higher education groups backs the proposal -- Constitutional Amendment 2.

"We're not sure what his connection is," said Rachel Kincaid, vice president of external affairs.

"We just know that he sent out a message to his constituents to vote against it," Kincaid said after the meeting.

Her disclosure was a surprise to board members.

"Bernie Sanders?" asked Jimmie Martin Jr., who lives in Cut Off and is chairman of the panel.

Exactly why Sanders would recommend defeat of the amendment is unclear .

A message to Sanders' U. S. Senate office was not immediately returned.

Kincaid told the board she understood Sanders believes taxpayers -- presuambly through the Legislature -- should have the final say on tuition.

Free tuition at public colleges and universities was one of Sanders' key themes in his losing bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, and his bid sparked widespread support from young voters.

However, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won the Louisiana Democratic primary on March 5.

Sanders' campaign said Germany did away with college tuition because of concerns it was discouraging Germans from attending, and that other western European nations have done so too.

The UL System board oversees nine colleges and universities, including the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and Southeastern Louisiana University.

Louisiana is one of two states that require legislative approval to boost tuition.

The requirement here is two-thirds of the Legislature.

The only other state with such a rule is Florida, which requires majority approval from state lawmakers.

Backers say the proposal would allow higher education leaders to balance budgets, especially amid years of reductions in state aid for colleges and universities.

Opponents contend current rules ensure that tuition rates remain affordable.

Kincaid said two polls done by Southern Media & Opinion Research show the measure winning support from about 60 percent of voters, who will decide the issue on Nov. 8.

For that reason, Kincaid said political consultants have urged supporters to delay high-profile efforts for the amendment until the final days before the election.

Billboards, social media and advertising are in the plans.

"We are optimistic but we don't want to be overly confident," she told the board.

State aid for colleges and universities has dropped 55 percent since 2008.

Those dollars have been mostly replaced by increases in tuition and fees, which remain among the lowest in the nation.

A group called Excellence in Higher Education is the key support organization.

Martin said higher education officials need to be reminded that the issue is on next month's ballot, especially since early voting is underway.

"The voting started on Tuesday," he said. "Now is the time to let our campuses know."
10 2016-10-07
Associated Press

UL System taps Northwestern State president as leader

The University of Louisiana System has a new president, chosen from the leadership within its own campus ranks.

James Henderson, president of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, was tapped Thursday by the UL System Board of Supervisors to take over management of the entire system. His appointment was approved unanimously by board members.

Henderson was the only candidate forwarded to the full board for an interview by its search committee. He'll fill the job that Sandra Woodley left in December, leading the largest higher education system in Louisiana, with nearly 89,000 students across nine universities including the University of New Orleans.

His tenure as system president will begin Jan. 1. His salary wasn't immediately set, with the terms of employment still to be negotiated.

10 2016-10-07
Baton Rouge

UL System picks new president Jim Henderson

Jim Henderson, president of Northwestern State University, was selected Thursday to be the new president of the University of Louisiana System.

The Board of Supervisors voted 10-0 to hire Henderson, who was recommended by an executive search committee.

Most college students in Louisiana attend one of the nine schools overseen by the system, including the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, the University of New Orleans and Nicholls State University in Thibodaux.

Enrollment totals about 90,000 students.

The hiring comes at a time when state aid for higher education has been cut repeatedly amid state budget problems.


Days after tumultuous Louisiana budget passed, officials prep for more cuts
Days after tumultuous Louisiana budget passed, officials prep for more cuts
Less than a week after Louisiana lawmakers came together to pass a painful budget that fails…
In an open interview with the board, Henderson said one of his priorities is to "reverse this 10-year disinvestment in higher education.

"A sea change in policies, direction and strategies will be required to reinstate our institutions to the position of prominence which they deserve," he said in a prepared statement. "The System office will be at the forefront of those efforts in the years ahead, and the opportunities for the universities of Louisiana are limitless."

Henderson, 46, told the board that interacting with state lawmakers is no chore.

"Working with the Legislature, to me, is in some sick way fun," Henderson said to laughter.

He added, "Students are the most fun part of this job. They really are."

Henderson was the sole candidate recommended by the search committee, and Thursday's selection amounted to a formality.

"I don't have any questions because I think he is the right man for the job," said G. Gerald Hebert, of Kenner, a member of the board, during a question and answer session by the panel.

Northwestern has nearly 10,000 students and is in Natchitoches.

Henderson has been president of the school for 17 months.

Enrollment rose 7 percent this year, tops in the UL System.

Before that he was chancellor of Bossier Parish Community College.

Enrollment there shot up 86 percent during Henderson's five-year tenure.

Henderson is a native of Shreveport and graduated from Northwestern in 1994 with a bachelor's degree in English and journalism.

He earned a master's degree in administration from the University of West Florida and a doctorate in management from the University of Maryland University College.

Henderson's wife Tonia, who appeared with him, is also a graduate of Northwestern.

Tonia Henderson told the board she can vouch for the UL System because her mother, brother, mother-in-law and father-in-law also attended UL System universities.

Jim Henderson succeeds Dan Reneau, the former president of Louisiana Tech who has been serving as interim president since January after the resignation of Sandra Woodley.


Search begins for new president of University of Louisiana System
The search for a new president of the University of Louisiana System is underway.
The new president's salary will be worked out later, according to a spokeswoman for the UL System.

10 2016-10-07

Henderson named UL System president

BATON ROUGE — Northwestern State University President Jim Henderson will lead the University of Louisiana System beginning Jan. 1.

After a public interview Thursday before the UL System Board of Supervisors he was named president of the system. An executive committee of the board will meet to negotiate contract specifics like salary.

He had been at the helm of NSU, one of the nine universities in the system, since Jan. 1, 2015. The board is expected to kick off another national search to replace Henderson at the Natchitoches university.

Henderson's interview was a quick and jovial one, with some board members remarking that he was "the man for the job" rather than asking a question.

He was the only candidate nominated last week for an interview by the board's Application Review Committee.

Read more: NSU prez is only candidate for UL System top job | La. campuses working to address sexual violence | Former LC president alleges threats, conspiracy

Members of the Board of Supervisors asked Henderson about his goals for the system and how he'll stay connected to students, something he's known for at NSU.

"I hope we can craft, collectively, a very compelling vision establishing who we are — not literally, but when it comes to our purpose (as a system)," Henderson told board members. "I want to establish a reduction or halt in spiraling increase in out-of-pocket costs on our students. We are making (college) unaffordable to a big population of the state."

His vision for the system "starts and ends with students," he added in an interview after his announcement, and he wants to find ways to get them involved.

Not only does he plan to be visible on all nine member campuses, but he also wants to entertain ideas like a student advisory council or another group of student leaders that meets regularly at the system level and with board members, he said.

James "Jim" Henderson tells the University of LouisianaBuy Photo
James "Jim" Henderson tells the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors his goals for the system and its nine universities Thursday. The board named Henderson president of the system effective Jan. 1. (Photo: Leigh Guidry/The Advertiser)
Henderson also talked about putting the emphasis on students rather than the "policy environment" of higher education in Louisiana.

"With the policy environment ... it's easy to focus on inputs instead of outcomes and accountability to our stakeholders," he said, referring to students and business leaders.

He wants to work toward a state funding formula — the process by which state funds are distributed to higher education institutions — that is transparent, predictable and aligned to long-term strategic goals of the system as well as short-term goals of students.

That will be important to providing support for schools as they prepare students for a 21st century world.

"In the 21st century economy, a higher-level skill set for students — the ability to think critically, solve problems, communicate effectively — is just absolutely essential," he said. "And I think the University of Louisiana System universities are those that are best positioned to prepare students for this new reality.

"That's what I'm most looking forward to is ensuring that our institutions have the resources and the strategic vision to serve students at a higher level," he said.

Henderson will take the place of interim President Dan Reneau, who began leading the system in January 2015 following Sandra Woodley's resignation two months earlier.

The search process for a permanent replacement was stalled in July when all but one finalist for the position dropped out to pursue other opportunities, UL System Communication Director Cami Geisman said.

In May, the Application Review Committee recommended three finalists to be interviewed by the entire Board — former Ball State President Paul Ferguson, former Texas Tech University President M. Duane Nellis and Uroyoan Walker-Ramos, president of the University of Puerto Rico System.

Walker-Ramos remained a finalist, and last week the executive search firm presented two additional candidates — Henderson and Jeannine Kahn, who is vice president of academic affairs for the UL System.

Henderson, a 1994 NSU journalism graduate, was named the school's next president in September 2014. His wife, Tonia, also is an NSU alumna.

He succeeded the now-late Randall J. Webb retired after 18 years at the helm of NSU. Henderson is the school's 18th president.

Prior to taking the job in Natchitoches, Henderson was chancellor of Bossier Parish Community College from 2009 to 2014.

He was senior vice president of workforce and economic development/career and technical education for the Louisiana Community and Technical College System from 2005-09, after several years at the Louisiana Department of Labor and time in hotel management.

10 2016-10-07

Northwestern's Henderson named ULS president

The Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System unanimously voted to appoint Jim Henderson as its new system president.

Henderson is the sitting president at Northwestern State University and previously served as chancellor of Bossier Parish Community College.

“Jim’s career has uniquely prepared him for this role,” Interim System President Dan Reneau said. “Higher education in Louisiana is facing some of its most challenging times and I think the Board made an excellent selection to best position the System to combat the challenges ahead.”

Henderson has led Northwestern State University to significant enrollment increases since he took the helm in January 2015. NSU experienced the largest enrollment increase in the UL System this year, a 7 percent jump. During his tenure at Bossier Parish Community College enrollment soared by 86 percent and degree and certification completion increased by 90 percent.

“Louisiana’s colleges and universities have been dramatically affected by budget cuts and other crises for nearly a decade yet they have persevered, achieving higher rates of success while operating more efficiently. A sea change in policies, direction and strategies will be required to reinstate our institutions to the position of prominence which they deserve,” Henderson said. “The System office will be at the forefront of those efforts in the years ahead, and the opportunities for the universities of Louisiana are limitless.”

Henderson is a Shreveport native and a 1994 graduate of NSU where he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and English. He earned a master’s degree in administration from the University of West Florida and a doctorate in management from the University of Maryland University College.

“Part of my heart will always be with Northwestern and its people and the System presidency will allow me to maintain a close association with my alma mater and the Natchitoches community while providing opportunities to create a positive impact on higher education and students statewide,” Henderson said.

Henderson’s wife, Tonia, is also an NSU graduate who has spent her career as a successful executive in television advertising and sales. They have three children—Reagan, Nicholas and Alexander.

The Board’s Application Review Committee met last month to receive a report of candidates from the executive search firm. From that pool of candidates, the committee recommended Henderson to be interviewed by the full Board.

Henderson will start his new role at the first of the year. He is succeeding Interim System President Dan Reneau who was named to the position January 2016 following the resignation of Sandra Woodley.

The University of Louisiana System’s nine universities serve more than 90,000 students throughout the state. It is one of the largest Systems in the nation and awards approximately 16,000 degrees annually.

10 2016-10-07

VIDEO: New UL System President Named

10 2016-10-07

NSU President Named Head of University of Louisiana System Read More: NSU President Named Head of University of Louisiana System | http://710keel.com

The Board of Supervisors of the University of Louisiana System have chosen their next president, and it’s no surprise who board members picked.
The group has selected Northwestern State University President, and Shreveport native, Jim Henderson in a unanimous vote. He’ll head the system that’s made up of NSU and eight other institutions across the state.
Dr. Henderson’s name was the only one submitted for consideration by a search committee comprised of members of the board. He’ll officially assume the presidency on January 1, 2017. He succeeds former Louisiana Tech President Dr. Dan Reneau, who has service as interim president since Dr. Sandra Woodley resigned in late 2015.
“Jim’s career has uniquely prepared him for this role,” Reneau said. “Higher education in Louisiana is facing some of its most challenging times and I think the board made an excellent selection to best postition the system to combat the challenges ahead.”
Henderson has been NSU’s president since January 2015. He’s told KEEL news he was interested in the UL System position because it would give him a chance to serve not just the 10,000 students at NSU, but 90,000 students across the state.
“It is with a deep sense of humility and appreciation that I accept this prestigious position, even though I obviously have some mixed emotions about leaving a university that has been such an important part of my life,” Dr. Henderson said in a news release. “Part of my heart will always be with Northwestern and its people. But the system presidency will allow me to maintain a close association with my alma mater and the Natchitoches community, and at the same time provide opportunities to create a positive impact on higher education statewide.”

Read More: NSU President Named Head of University of Louisiana System | http://710keel.com/nsu-president-named-head-of-university-of-louisiana-system/?trackback=tsmclip
10 2016-10-04
Associated Press

UL System committee forwards one recommendation for new leader

The search committee looking for a new president for the University of Louisiana System has recommended one candidate to the full board for consideration.

James Henderson, president of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, was the only person submitted by the application review committee to the full board for an interview.

The UL System's Board of Supervisors will consider whether to name Henderson as the system's next president at a special Thursday meeting (Oct. 6).

A search firm was hired to help with the search, and some initial finalists selected by the application review committee removed their names from consideration.

If Henderson is chosen, he'll fill the job that Sandra Woodley left in December, leading the largest higher education system in Louisiana, with nearly 89,000 students across nine universities, including Northwestern State and the University of New Orleans.

10 2016-10-04

NSU prez is only candidate for UL System top job

The University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors will interview candidates for its next president Thursday, and as of Monday morning only one name is on the list — Jim Henderson, president of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches since January 2015.

The board's Application Review Committee met last week and nominated Henderson as the candidate, system Communication Director Cami Geisman said Monday. He is the only candidate the committee "chose to move forward" for an interview with the full board, she said.

Henderson will go before the Board of Supervisors Thursday at 11 a.m. for a public interview during a special meeting in Baton Rouge. He told faculty and staff in an email Monday he has agreed to accept the presidency should the board approve his nomination.

This is the latest step in a process that was stalled in July when all but one finalist for the position dropped out to pursue other opportunities, Geisman said.

Read more: Former LC president alleges threats, conspiracy | UL System enrollment at highest level since 2012 | La. campuses working to address sexual violence | 'Fiscal watch' schools submit corrective action plans

In May, the Application Review Committee recommended three finalists to be interviewed by the entire Board — former Ball State President Paul Ferguson, former Texas Tech University President M. Duane Nellis and Uroyoan Walker-Ramos, president of the University of Puerto Rico System.

Walker-Ramos remained a finalist and last week the executive search firm presented two additional candidates — Henderson and Jeannine Kahn, who is vice president of academic affairs for the UL System.


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Henderson is not new to this process, as he was interviewed two years ago as one of two finalists for the top position at Northwestern State, his alma mater. The 1994 NSU journalism graduate was named the school's next president in September 2014 and stepped into the position Jan. 1, 2015. His wife, Tonia, also is an alumna.

Henderson said Monday that possibly moving into a position was about the future of NSU and Louisiana higher education as a whole. As system president he would be able to help lead that conversation rather than only play a part.

"We are at kind of a moment of a sea change for higher education in Louisiana," Henderson said in an interview. "We've gone through a very difficult decade. It's a moment of immense challenge and endless opportunity. Being a part of how we move Northwestern State University and the other eight institutions (in the UL System) forward was very intriguing to me."

Staying connected to NSU also was an attractive aspect of the system president job.

"If it was a job that would take me completely away from Northwestern it would not have even been a thought," he said.

He succeeded the now-late Randall J. Webb retired after 18 years at the helm of NSU. Henderson is the school's 18th president.

If Henderson is selected as the next president of the UL System Thursday, he will take over from Dan Reneau, who was named interim president in December 2015 following Sandra Woodley's resignation a month earlier.

Should Henderson replace Reneau, the system would go through a process again to select a new president at NSU.

Prior to taking the job in Natchitoches, Henderson was chancellor of Bossier Parish Community College from 2009 to 2014.

When hired he discussed three clear goals to help make NSU a "premier" regional university — raising quality of life for students, raising and maintaining the value of degrees students receive at the university and connecting with business and industry in the area to better serve the market.

He thanked faculty and staff Monday in an email for their work in strides made at the school, which he said likely helped him secure a nomination for the system position.

"Your commitment over the past 21 months to raising Northwestern to higher levels of achievement and excellence helped create the recognition and attention that resulted in my nomination to this position," Henderson wrote. "We are attracting and retaining students that are enhancing the reputation and image of the university. The loyalty and enthusiasm of our students and their support of the university was another factor in the board’s interest in perhaps having me involved in the leadership of the system."

10 2016-10-04

NSU president, former BPCC chancellor to interview for top Louisiana System job

Jim Henderson has been named a candidate for President of the University of Louisiana System.

Henderson, who served as Chancellor of Bossier Parish Community College from 2009 to 2014 and has been President of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches since January 2015, will go before the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors Thursday morning for a public interview at a special meeting in Baton Rouge. He released a letter via e-mail Monday stating that he would “accept the presidency” if the board approves his nomination.

If selected as the next president of the UL System, Henderson will take over from Dan Reneau, who has been interim president since December 2015 following Sandra Woodley’s resignation.

The following statement was released by Jim Henderson Monday:

Dear NSU Faculty and Staff:

This morning it was announced that I have been recommended by a search committee of the Board of Supervisors of the University of Louisiana System to become president of that system which governs Northwestern and eight other schools in the state. That recommendation will be considered by the full board at a meeting Thursday in Baton Rouge. I have agreed to accept the presidency if the board approves my nomination.

This is to let you know that one of my highest priorities, if elected, would be to assist in every way possible in making this a positive and beneficial transition for Northwestern that would help assure the continued progress and momentum of the university that we all cherish.

It is impossible for me to adequately express to each of you my appreciation for the role that you have played in creating this possibility for me to assume a position of expanded involvement in shaping the future of Northwestern and other schools in the University of Louisiana System. This university has extremely capable and gifted faculty and staff members. Your commitment over the past 21 months to raising Northwestern to higher levels of achievement and excellence helped create the recognition and attention that resulted in my nomination to this position. We are attracting and retaining students that are enhancing the reputation and image of the university. The loyalty and enthusiasm of our students and their support of the university was another factor in the board’s interest in perhaps having me involved in the leadership of the system.

Northwestern, as I have stated many times, is blessed with some of the most knowledgeable and creative people in higher education in Louisiana and far beyond. The vast pool of talent and energy here will ensure the continued success of our school and my alma mater regardless of who is serving as president. Our students now and in the future will continue to benefit from your talents and commitment to excellence. My continual and extensive interaction with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and others has made serving as Northwestern’s president an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Those relationships will continue whether I am here or in another position.

If the board selects me to serve as system president, that would provide additional energy in our mutual efforts to improve and enrich Northwestern, just as we should work to make every university in Louisiana as strong and effective as possible. In this time of immense challenge and limitless opportunity for higher education, effective leadership for the universities of Louisiana at the system level is paramount.

Thank you for your ongoing support and assistance and for making our association with Northwestern, whether it continues as it is or in a different capacity, so gratifying and enjoyable for me, Tonia, and our family.

Sincerely and Fork ‘em Demons!


10 2016-09-29

UL System enrollment at highest level since 2012

The University of Louisiana System reports enrollment of more than 90,000 students for the first time since 2012.

The number of students enrolled at the system's nine four-year public universities this year comes to 90,439 students. It's an increase of 588 students over the previous year. Six of the nine schools saw some level of growth, whether it be in number or quality of student.

Northwestern State University in Natchitoches saw big gains with the highest percentage increase and student increase. With 640 students more students this year, it has 9,819, which is a 7 percent increase over fall 2015.

Grambling State University followed with a 6.8 percent increase, which is 310 students more than last year and brings its total to 4,863.

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Another important gain was at Nicholls State University, which saw its first fall enrollment increase since 2009 with 103 additional students this year. The school in Thibodaux has 6,267 students this fall.

Such growth is increasingly important as Louisiana schools rely heavily on tuition and student fees to continue operating and educating.

"Louisiana has disinvested in public higher education more than any other state," said Cami Geisman, assistant vice president for communication for the UL System. "In turn our budget has shifted from 63 percent state funding in 2008 to only 28 percent this year. The shift to self-generated funding makes enrollment more important than ever before as we need tuition and fees to keep the lights on."

That also makes recruiting more important to schools' survival.

"The universities in our system use targeted and dynamic marketing and recruitment efforts to attract students," Geisman said. "In addition to traditional marketing at college fairs and large events, our universities are reaching the next generation of students with technology-based recruiting."

The system also reports seeing higher quality students, based on academic standards like ACT score and grade point average.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is up only 11 students, but its freshman class includes 160 valedictorians. Louisiana Tech University in Ruston had a freshman class with 155 students who scored a 32 or higher on the ACT. Tech grew by 280.

The University of Louisiana at Monroe grew by 261 students to break 9,000, and its online program, eULM, has the largest enrollment since its inception, according to the UL System.

Three schools saw drops in enrollment — Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, McNeese State University in Lake Charles and the University of New Orleans.

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System and college leaders suspect one factor behind the decrease to be historic flooding across south Louisiana right before the start of the semester.

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Southeastern’s enrollment is down 95 students to 14,499, but its freshman class increased by 14.4 percent.

The University of New Orleans lost 386 students compared to fall 2015, but the system reports a "slight uptick" in new students, which includes freshmen and transfers.

McNeese State University was down 536 students from this semester last year to 7,626 this fall.

The nine-school UL System is the largest higher education system in Louisiana and one of the largest in the nation.

Statewide the system awards 64 percent of bachelor’s degrees and 61 percent of master’s degrees, which represents 74 percent of education degrees; 72 percent of four-year nursing degrees; 66 percent of business degrees; 60 percent of engineering degrees and all of the state’s public pharmacy degrees, according to ULS.

Fall 2016 enrollment in the UL System:

Grambling State University: 4,863
Louisiana Tech: 12,694
McNeese State: 7,626
Nicholls State: 6,267
Northwestern State: 9,819
Southeastern Louisiana University: 14,499
University of Louisiana at Lafayette: 17,519
University of Louisiana at Monroe: 9,115
University of New Orleans: 8,037

10 2016-09-26


The University of Louisiana System has eclipsed 90,000 students for the first time since 2012.

An additional 588 students over last year brings the System’s total enrollment to 90,439 students.

Six of the nine UL System institutions experienced some level of growth.

Northwestern State University in Natchitoches boasted the highest percentage and student increase at 7 percent and 640 students, respectively.

Grambling State University followed with a 6.8 percent increase from an additional 310 students.
10 2016-08-30
Baton Rouge

Gov. John Bel Edwards announces his fourth appointment to LSU Board of Supervisors

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced on Monday his latest appointment to the LSU Board of Supervisors would be Valencia Sarpy Jones, of Cloutierville.

Jones is Edwards' fourth appointment to the board with controlling authority over the LSU system.

Jones is a financial services professional with New York Life Insurance Company and NYLIFE Securities. She is an LSU alumna.

In May, Edwards reappointed Stephen Perry, the president of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, to the board, while adding James Williams, a New Orleans attorney and Glenn Armentor, a Lafayette attorney.


Edwards announces three appointments to LSU Board of Supervisors
Gov. John Bel Edwards is getting his first opportunity to make his mark at LSU.
Jones represents the 4th Congressional District.

Edwards has so far used half of his appointments to increase diversity on the powerful board.

The board was often criticized under Jindal for being made up of all white men, save for Ann Duplessis, a black female.

Both Jones and Williams are black.

The recent appointments were to fill the seats of Hank Danos, Ray Lesseigne and Jack Lawton, who all work in the oil and gas industry, and whose terms expired June 1.

The positions on the LSU Board of Supervisors are highly coveted. The members are not paid, but they get access to the 50-yard-line suite at Tiger Stadium for LSU football games and tickets to other athletic events. They also get to award 15 LSU scholarships every year of their six-year term.

Edwards also announced Virgil Robinson Jr., of New Orleans, would join the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors.

Robinson is the president of Robinson Investments, and an alumnus from Grambling State University. He represents the 2nd Congressional District.
10 2016-08-12

Messy Breakups Make More Noise

College and university presidents seem to be sharpening their knives for battle more than they’re falling on their swords these days.
This year has seen no shortage of public, controversial and often messy breakups between institutions and presidents who have dug in to try to keep their jobs. Ugly partings still represent a small minority of all changes at the top, but several experts have taken note of a recent glut.
Take, for example, the resignation this week of University of California, Davis, Chancellor Linda P. B. Katehi. She had been on administrative leave since April amid a steady drip of negative headlines including charges of nepotism and misuse of student fees. But when she resigned, her lawyer released a statement saying she had been “exonerated from baseless accusations,” even as a university system spokeswoman told the Los Angeles Times Katehi had “engaged in a pattern of misrepresentations” and “repeatedly exercised poor judgment when confronted with challenges.”
Katehi's resignation came shortly after Temple University President Neil D. Theobald reached an agreement to step down at the start of August. Temple's board had been preparing to fire Theobald after a multimillion-dollar financial-aid overrun became public and after he dismissed the university's provost, Hai-Lung Dai, in a highly controversial move this summer.
Suffolk University President Margaret McKenna was ousted at the end of July. Board members had criticized McKenna’s spending choices, and she faced allegations of verbally abusing employees. Reports pointed to tensions after Suffolk under McKenna terminated a contract with the public relations firm of George Regan, who had ties to trustees. Regan had alleged that McKenna loosely spent university money and verbally abused employees. McKenna's supporters had said she was being micromanaged, and Suffolk’s board chairman called the verbal abuse allegations “unsubstantiated.”
Yet trustees pushed out the president just months after the two sides struck a deal in February designed to keep her on until the start of the next academic year. McKenna said she was “disheartened by the violations of basic process.” McKenna said in a statement to The Boston Globe that she “fought a good fight against entrenched interests and a board that did not understand university governance.”
Each contentious firing or resignation this year has come under its own unique circumstances. But recruiters and those most familiar with higher education governance picked out several trends that are likely contributing to the uptick in messy separations. Broadly, colleges and universities find themselves under the uncomfortable glare of increased public scrutiny at a time when they are also struggling against heavy financial and enrollment pressures. Plus, relationships and expectations between boards and presidents have changed.
In that environment, the different sides aren’t always seeing eye to eye. When they don’t, conflicts are bubbling over in very public, very sensational ways. Given the trends, many expect to hear more and more about messy dismissals.
“I do think the publicity associated with it, as well as the messiness, is becoming a little more conspicuous,” said Richard Skinner, a senior consultant at Harris Search Associates who is a former senior vice president for programs and research at the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. “I don’t see that stopping.”
Skinner has also been president and vice chancellor of Royal Roads University in British Columbia and president of Clayton State University in the Atlanta area, as well as an executive in the University System of Georgia. He listed several factors that could be leading to more bad breakups between universities and presidents.
There has been a push in recent years for boards of trustees to act more as custodians and focus on fiduciary oversight, Skinner said. More hands-on boards are naturally going to have more conflicts with presidents.
Presidents are also increasingly feeling that their jobs are in danger, Skinner said. That has many seeking legal protections in their contracts in order to secure their financial futures in the event they are fired. Skinner thinks the consequences can play out in the interactions between boards and presidents.
“You have, almost by default, created a more adversarial relationship,” Skinner said. “In an adversarial process, the board will ultimately prevail. You’ve almost planted the seeds for what will be a not-very-pleasant departure.”
Some disagreed with that idea, however. Raymond D. Cotton is a Washington-based lawyer who handles contract negotiations and represents boards and presidents alike. Boards understand contract negotiations are a business transaction, he said.
“A majority of boards -- and the majority is growing even larger -- are businesspeople,” Cotton said. “They’re big boys and girls, and they understand that part of the relationship between the president and the board is a business relationship. That is to say, the board is the employer and the president is the employee.”
Cotton spoke broadly about conditions in higher education but did not want to comment on any specific situations that may have involved his clients.
Many board members are corporate executives who have been through contract negotiations of their own with their employers’ boards of directors, Cotton said. But he added that boards have changed what they are looking for in a president. When Cotton started in the field in the early 1980s, boards were often looking for a Ph.D. with an Ivy League background in the liberal arts to become presidents, he said. Boards expected to be more focused on business issues and have the president focus on the academic side of the operation, he said. Although boards expected presidents to raise money, trustees were also willing to cut checks of their own or chip in with fund-raising if a president fell short of a goal.
“That has changed significantly to where we are today,” Cotton said. “They expect the No. 1 priority to be raising money.”
Failure to perform -- whether in fund-raising or other initiatives -- can lead to a quick ouster. Yet presidential firings haven’t always played out in public soap operas. Many described a time in the past when a board chair would take a president out to lunch, gently explain that the university needed to move in a different direction, and agree on terms that would have the president leaving quietly.
That’s a far cry from some of the infighting seen recently.
“I’ve been involved in many of these things,” Cotton said. “What happens is emotions take over. It gets down to, ‘I’m the boss. I’m the chairman of the board or the executive committee. This president, I’ve had enough.’”
Some have pointed to an influx of business ideas as driving messy breakups. But corporate breakups are often announced in brief press releases with little fanfare. It brings up the question of why the recent glut of ugliness has hit higher education.
One possible answer is that higher education is stressed as revenues are pinched, enrollments are constrained and the future of education is debated daily. That has emotions more likely to boil over.
“We’re seeing that a good number of institutions are, more so now than ever before, in financial difficulty or are considering options such as partnering with another institution, a buyout from another institution or closing their doors,” said Jamie Ferrare, managing principal of AGB Search, a Washington-based higher ed executive recruitment firm.
“All of that is to say I think the business model of higher education is under greater stress than ever before,” Ferrare said. “I think we’re seeing some of that reflected in boards’ frustration, saying, ‘We need someone to come in here and help us move in a different direction.’”
The window presidents have for arriving on campus and making changes has also grown shorter, Ferrare said. Instead of drawing up 10-year plans, presidents have two to five years to show results.
Still, shorter time spans don’t directly translate into presidents fighting openly for their jobs or spending months suspended while investigators draw up scathing reports on their conduct.
A divide sometimes exists between the expectations of presidents and boards, Ferrare said. Presidents are often holding on to job prospectus documents used in the search process. The prospectus typically lays out priorities that a new president will need to address. Presidents often see it as a starting point for their agendas, and it’s frequently scrutinized online by members of the public. But in the end, boards may end up with different priorities -- even after the hiring process is complete.
As a result, presidents can feel that the rules were changed in the middle of the game.
“I think what they’re doing is using that and saying, ‘You said this and this, that’s where I’m going and you changed your mind,’” Ferrare said. “I don’t know if everyone is taking that prospectus as seriously as some of the candidates are.”
Many of the messiest breakups seem to be happening at public institutions. Beyond UC Davis, the University of Louisville is a prime example. Longtime President James Ramsey resigned last month under an agreement brokered by Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin. Ramsey, who had been credited with major improvements in fund-raising, facilities and academic standards, had been hanging on to his position despite a steady series of recent controversies.
Even his departure was controversial, as he indicated he wanted to continue to work at the University of Louisville Foundation, where he is president. And he resigned to a new group of trustees after Bevin overhauled Louisville’s former board -- a move that has since been blocked by a judge and was still grinding through the legal process as of Thursday.
Public education is facing political pressures in many states, said Ronald Ehrenberg, the director of Cornell University’s Higher Education Research Institute.
“Governors now often have much more of a view of what they want their institutions to be, and they’re sort of loading boards with people who are close to them,” Ehrenberg said. “That makes things very, very difficult.”
Political dynamics can influence public institutions in other ways. In California, a system leader is likely uncomfortable asking the Legislature for more money if allegations of fiscal improprieties fly, said William G. Tierney, a professor of higher education and the codirector of the Pullias Center for Higher Education at the University of Southern California. That could have played into the ouster of Katehi at UC Davis. She faced intense scrutiny for decisions including spending on travel.
While it may seem like many of the worst breakups are at public institutions, private colleges and universities have had their fair share of bad situations. Kenneth Starr resigned as Baylor University's president and chancellor this year following allegations that the university mishandled sexual assault complaints, including against football players. Starr had initially been expected to remain chancellor. Simon Newman resigned as president of Mount St. Mary’s University after reports that he fired two faculty members and likened struggling students to bunnies that needed to be drowned.
Some see the balance of power at universities as having changed, putting more power in the hands of presidents and boards -- and inviting more scrutiny.
“The board exerts more control, which denotes the loss of faculty voice and decision making,” Tierney said. “But the board asserting more control has led to greater presidential power, often at the risk of making the sorts of mistakes that we’re talking about.”
Salary levels are another factor inviting presidential scrutiny, Tierney said. Presidents’ salaries have grown in recent years while other pay has been stagnant. And information -- whether on a president’s pay or on their alleged improprieties -- spreads more easily today than it has in the past. So even if controversial expense reports end up being legitimate, a situation’s optics can have lasting negative effects as it gets posted and reposted on Twitter and Facebook and hotly debated among community members, faculty and students.
“I think that information is so readily available, and so many people can comment on it, that it makes a big difference,” Tierney said. “There’s any number of activities that warrant applause, but it’s these acts of malfeasance that raise eyebrows.”
Tierney rejects the idea that overall presidential turnover has increased. Average presidential tenure has generally been between four and a half and seven years over the last quarter of a century, he said.
The average tenure of a university president in his or her current job dropped from 7.6 years in 2006 to 6.2 years in 2011, according to the latest edition of the American College President from the American Council on Education. ACE is working on an updated report. But until it comes out, the latest statistics are five years old, meaning they could obscure more recent trends.
Regardless, any current spate of messy presidential separations has not yet approached the level of an epidemic, Tierney said. While they may seem more frequent this yet, he pointed out that messy breakups are nothing new -- and that they can drag on for years.
Former President Graham Spanier was ousted at Pennsylvania State University in 2011 in the midst of the sex-abuse scandal involving former football coach Jerry Sandusky. Just this year Spanier sued the university for breach of contract.
Messy breakups can have long-term effects on future executive recruiting and initiatives, said Lucy Leske, senior partner in the higher education practice at executive search firm Witt/Kieffer.
“If you’re trying to do a search in that environment, it can be pretty daunting for candidates,” Leske said. “If they go into an environment already highly charged with a gotcha culture and a group of people who are ready to pull the plug at the slightest mistake where there’s no forgiveness or room for conversation, then it’s hard to recruit leaders for those environments. It makes it harder for university leaders to act boldly.”

10 2016-08-11

Funeral services set Friday for Jimmy D. Long Sr.

Jimmy D. Long Sr., who gained statewide prominence through his unwavering commitment to education, will be laid to rest Friday in Natchitoches.

Long, 84, of Natchitoches, died in a two-vehicle accident about 1 p.m. Tuesday near his home on University Parkway in Natchitoches.

Funeral services for Long will be at 2 p.m. Friday in First Baptist Church in Natchitoches with Dr. Calvin Phelps, Sen. Gerald Long and the Rev. Tommy Rush officiating, according to Northwestern State University.

Private family graveside services will follow in American Cemetery in Natchitoches, with arrangements by Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home.

Friends may call from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday in the church.

Long served 32 years in the House of Representatives, and for half of his tenure he chaired the House Education Committee. During his final term, his colleagues dubbed him “Dean of the Legislature.”

Education 'icon' Jimmy Long Sr. killed in car wreck in Natchitoches

He had served since 2001 until the time of his death as a member of the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors.

Long, who was born Oct. 6, 1931, in the Tannehill community in Winn Parish, was a member of the Long family political dynasty. His brother, Gerald Long, represents Senate District 31 and is the Senate president pro tempore.

Long’s survivors include his wife of 63 years, Dorothy “Dot” Griffin Long.

The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a scholarship fund at Northwestern State University in honor of Jimmy and Dot Long.

The Natchitoches Police Department is continuing to investigate the wreck in which Long was killed. The accident happened shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday in the 4200 block of University Parkway.

Natchitoches Police said the initial investigation shows the crash occurred as Long was driving a 2005 Chrysler PT Cruiser when he pulled out of a private driveway. His vehicle collided with a 2007 Jeep Wrangler that was westbound on University Parkway.

Long, who was wearing a seat belt, was pronounced dead by the Natchitoches Parish Coroner’s Office, police reported. The driver of the Jeep was a juvenile who also was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.

Routine toxicology samples were obtained and will be submitted for the analysis.

10 2016-08-10

Education 'icon' Jimmy Long Sr. killed in car wreck in Natchitoches

Former state Rep. Jimmy D. Long Sr., “a powerful force for a half-century for education in Louisiana,” was killed Tuesday afternoon in a traffic accident in Natchitoches.

A spokesman for the Natchitoches Police Department said Long was in a PT Cruiser which collided with a Jeep Wrangler on La. Highway 6/University Parkway.

Long, 84, of Natchitoches, was part of the Long family political dynasty and served in the House of Representatives for 32 years, from 1968 to 2000.

He had served for the past 15 years on the Board of Supervisors of the University of Louisiana System.

Funeral arrangements will be announced by Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home of Natchitoches.

“Jimmy Long Sr. dedicated his life to public service and embodied the hardworking spirit of Louisiana,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a statement.

“He touched the lives of countless children and families across our state, and his legacy will be felt for generations.”

As a state representative, Long was heavily involved in education legislation and served as chairman of the House Education Committee for 16 years.

“The thing that stands out about Jimmy Long is the longevity of his legacy,” said his brother, District 31 state Sen. Gerald Long of Winnfield.

“When you look at his legacy … he was an icon in the field of education,” Gerald Long said. “No one understood education, no one pursued excellence and knowing how to make it work in Louisiana more than Jimmy Long.”

Jimmy Long was inducted into the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame in Winnfield in 2000 and was honored by the Friends of LPB as a Louisiana Legend in 2009.

Former state Rep. Jimmy Long (left) of Natchitoches
Former state Rep. Jimmy Long (left) of Natchitoches shakes hands with U.S. Sen. Edward "Ted" Kennedy in this 2004 photo taken at the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame Museum in Winnfield. Long died in a traffic accident Tuesday in Natchitoches. (Photo: Town Talk file photo)
Northwestern State University President Jim Henderson said Long was “a powerful force for a half-century for education in Louisiana, especially Northwestern State University. “

“His contributions to Natchitoches, Northwestern and the state are enormous. Louisiana, the community and Northwestern have been enriched by his vision and leadership,” Henderson said.

Long fought on behalf of NSU, introduced the legislation to establish the Louisiana Scholars’ College on the NSU campus and was author of the bill to create the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts in Natchitoches, he said.

“I know you join Tonia and me in extending our thoughts and prayers to the Long family as they mourn the loss of a giant in the history of this community and the state of Louisiana,” Henderson said.

“His steadfast commitment to the (UL System) board and to higher education will be missed,” said Dan Reneau, University of Louisiana System president.

“He was passionate about Northwestern State University which was only a stone’s throw from his home. Mr. Long and I formed a friendship during my tenure as Louisiana Tech’s president, and I share my deepest condolences with Ms. Dot, Jimmy Long Jr. and all those who loved him,” Reneau said.

Dr. Steve Horton, director of the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts, said of Long, “He was the most selfless man I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Without his vision and forward-minded dedication to education in Louisiana, I am certain that the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts would not be positioned as it is in the country. His influence on our school will always be remembered.”

Sen. Long said his brother was a champion of teachers having the resources they needed to properly educate students and also a champion of NSU.

Other than perhaps those who served as president of NSU, “no name is more synonymous with Northwestern State than Jimmy Long. His footprints will be a part of that campus as long as that campus exists,” Gerald Long said.

“He loved Northwestern State. He loved education, and he will truly be missed.”

Former state Rep. Jimmy Long is shown with Supreme
Former state Rep. Jimmy Long is shown with Supreme Court Justice Jeanette Knoll in 2000 when they were inducted into the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame. (Photo: Alexandria Town Talk Copyright 2000)
Numerous college presidents and other educators often sought Jimmy Long’s advice on issues, he said. “That’s the kind of respect he had among educators. They knew that his institutional knowledge far exceeded anything that a textbook or an email could transfer.”

In addition to his impact on education, Long leaves a legacy of “personal generosity” in helping families and individuals who needed assistance, his brother said.

When he joined the Political Hall of Fame in 2000, Jimmy Long became the sixth member of the Long family to earn that distinction, joining well-known relatives like Huey and Earl.

“I’m very pleased to be counted among this group,” Long said when inducted.
10 2016-08-01
Baton Rouge

How LSU, other universities are impacted as tuition, fee hikes and TOPS cuts pile up on students

The price of going to a public college or university in Louisiana is going up again for students starting school in the coming weeks.

LSU, LSU-Alexandria, LSU-Shreveport, the University of Louisiana at Monroe and Southeastern Louisiana University have all increased tuition for the fall semester somewhere between 2 and 6 percent, which amounts to a few hundred dollars per semester.

The other state schools either opted not to increase tuition or else could not do so because they didn't meet the requirements of the Louisiana GRAD Act, the legislative mechanism the various institutions are relying on to implement the hikes.

But even at many of the schools where tuition is staying the same, fees are on the rise.

Steep increases in fees and tuition have been part of an annual trend for many of Louisiana's post-secondary educational institutions in recent years.

But the latest round of increases adds insult to injury for many students and parents who are weary from seeing their bills increase every year or are unexpectedly having to foot at least 30 percent of their tuition because of the first-ever cut to the popular state TOPS scholarship program, which affects more than 50,000 students.

The increases are also coming despite Gov. John Bel Edwards' recent public plea to higher education officials to resist hiking tuition for students this fall.


Governor John Bel Edwards to higher education leaders: Don't increase tuition
Governor John Bel Edwards to higher education leaders: Don't increase tuition
Gov. John Bel Edwards on Wednesday called on Louisiana’s colleges and universities to resist…
LSU students will see tuition increase by 4.95 percent, or $242 per semester. In addition, fees at the state's flagship school are increasing by $177 per semester. So for the full school year, an LSU student's costs are going up at least $838 next year.

Meanwhile, students who previously had their full tuition covered by TOPS at LSU will be footing the bill for an extra $2,100 because of the cut to the program.

"I understand they've been fighting with this budget all year, but it's still like, 'Really? Y'all have to do this now?' " said Kristen White, a mass communication senior at LSU, about the decision to raise tuition and fees this year after TOPS was cut. "It's causing a lot of financial stress on people like me and those around me."


'Front loaded' TOPS isn’t fully funded next year; here’s how that shakes out for students
'Front loaded' TOPS isn’t fully funded next year; here’s how that shakes out for students
For the first time, a TOPS scholarship will not cover the cost of tuition for students atten…
LSU President F. King Alexander said in a letter to the LSU Board of Supervisors that the Baton Rouge campus is using restraint by not increasing tuition a full 10 percent, as allowed under the LA GRAD Act.

"The flagship's adjustment is less than half of the amount permitted under the law for this year and well below what we have exercised in previous years," he said.

He noted that university officials were balancing the governor's request to minimize tuition increases against growing mandated costs for pensions and insurance.

The letter also noted that universities were told to prepare for a potential mid-year shortfall later this fiscal year.

Monturios Howard, a political science and African American studies senior at LSU, said he doesn't receive TOPS, so he's felt the brunt of continuous tuition and fee hikes in recent years.

Howard has taken out loans and works 40 hours a week as a manager at Chick-fil-A to help cover his costs, while managing to keep his grades up and stay involved in school organizations like Student Government. That means sometimes he gets home from work at 11 p.m. and does schoolwork deep into the night.

Howard said his primary concern is that continued increases in tuition will keep lower-income, predominantly minority students out of schools like LSU.

"It's going to make for a less diverse university," he said. "You have to remember that poverty disproportionately affects minorities."

None of the schools in the Southern University system or the Louisiana Community and Technical College System opted to raise tuition. But a variety of fees are going up for those schools. For example, at Southern University in Baton Rouge, there's a university support fee of $367, and students enrolled at technical colleges will be assessed a fee of between $104 to $151 if they take 16 or more credit hours.

Monty Sullivan, president of the LCTCS, said tuition will stay flat at all of the two-year institutions in the system because the state didn't slash their budget for the first time in several years.

"We felt like we were in a position to not have to impact Louisiana families," he said. "The other part of it is we have to be careful to not price ourselves out of the market, since for many of our students, what other option do they have?"

This is the last year schools have the autonomy to increase their tuition and fees under two legislative acts passed in recent years. The GRAD Act gave schools the ability to increase tuition 10 percent per year, if the school hit certain benchmarks like improved graduation rates. Aside from that legislation, Louisiana is the only state in the nation that typically requires a two-thirds vote of lawmakers to allow public colleges and universities to increase tuition and fees.

This November voters will decide on a proposal that will strip the Legislature of that tuition oversight.

Through the GRAD Act, schools like LSU have more than doubled their tuition rates over the past decade. Meanwhile, fees also have soared. Most schools have doubled and some, like Southeastern and Louisiana Tech, have more than tripled their fees over that period of time.

"I don't think people care whether it's a tuition or a fee; it's all contributing to the cost of college," said Jan Moller, director of the Louisiana Budget Project.

The shift of costs to students has been a direct result of the state withdrawing more than half of its dollars for higher education during that time.

"We're a very poor state, so it behooves us to keep our tuition low," Moller said, noting he was concerned about the combination of the TOPS cut this year with the increases in tuition and fees. "Hopefully, it won't discourage students or price people out of seeking a higher education. That's certainly the danger."
10 2016-07-15
New Orleans

UL System president search down to two, newspaper says

The University of Louisiana System's board is interviewing two finalists for the presidency of the nine-campus network, the Monroe News-Star reports.

The are University of Puerto Rico System President Uroyoan R. Walker-Ramos and former Texas Tech President M. Duane Nellis.

The system's most recent permanent president stepped down in December.


inRead invented by Teads

About 90,000 students attend UL schools, including the University of New Orleans.

The governing board meets Tuesday (July 26).

10 2016-07-14

Two finalists vie for UL System president

Louisiana's largest higher education system, one of the 20 largest in the nation, will likely choose a new leader when the University of Louisiana System board meets July 26.

Two finalists — former Texas Tech President M. Duane Nellis and current University of Puerto Rico System President Uroyoan R. Walker-Ramos — will be interviewed by the UL Board of Supervisors in Baton Rouge.

One of them will replace current President Dan Reneau, who has been serving as interim leader since December following the resignation of former President Sandra Woodley.

"It's an important leadership position as we navigate the challenges of higher education in Louisiana, and I believe we have two extremely qualified candidates," said University of Louisiana System President Beau Martin.

University of Louisiana System schools include: Grambling State, Louisiana Tech, McNeese State, Nicholls State, Northwestern State, Southeastern Louisiana, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, University of Louisiana at Monroe, and the University of New Orleans.

About 90,000 students attend the nine universities.

Nellis, who had been Texas Tech's president since 2013, resigned in January to pursue other opportunities. He had also been a finalist for the University of Wyoming president.

Nellis highlighted Texas Tech's elevation to a Tier One Carnegie Highest Research University under his leadership in a letter to the board.

"Despite this positive progress and the special people my wife and I have met in Lubbock and at Texas Tech, I made the decision recently to step down as Tech’s president to explore pursuing a move to a more comprehensive role as president of a system or more extended university campus system," he wrote in his letter to the board. "The opportunity to lead the University of Louisiana System, one of our nation’s largest public systems of higher education, is very exciting to consider."

Walker-Ramos, who earned his doctorate from LSU, touted his experience in leading a university system. The University of Puerto Rico System operates 11 campuses with about 60,000 students. He said in a letter to the board universities must become less reliant on dwindling state support.

"The institution’s sustained financial stability will start when its leadership can diversify how funds are obtained," he wrote. "Some ways to do this is by having more state, federal and private sector sponsored research, commercializing and licensing the technologies it develops, attracting more philanthropic donations for the endowment and/or foundation, the surging of start-up companies, lighting the match to the entrepreneurship spark to bring about a brighter less dependable future, and looking for operational efficiencies in processes already in place."

The system president often advocates for funding and unifies a diverse lineup of universities with individual cultures and priorities.

"Having effective leadership at the system level is essential," said Northwestern State President Jim Henderson. "Advocacy for the budget is important, but it's more important to be able to convey to lawmakers and policy makers funding is not an expenditure but an investment. But the system leader also has to be effective in the policy realm. It's a delicate balance."

Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1

10 2016-07-14

UL board to discuss search for next leader of Grambling State

The next step in the selection of Grambling State University's 13th president will occur July 26.

That's when the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors will meet in Baton Rouge to discuss, among other things, the selection process. The board already had a special meeting set for that date to interview UL System president finalists.

The board is looking to replace former Grambling State President Willie Larkin, who submitted his resignation during the panel's meeting June 23 at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston.

At the time, Larkin told board members: "I want to say to those individuals that maybe had some other ideas for the direction of the university, support your leader. Support the person that comes here as president. Here's my last statement: Mr. James Bradford, please leave Grambling State University alone."

That comment apparently referenced former Grambling University National Alumni Association President James Bradford, who now leads the association's Jackson Parish chapter. Bradford and the alumni association are among those who sued the UL System, Grambling State and others in 2006 over disagreements about the university's direction at the time.

Larkin, who had been on the job less than a year, was scheduled to work through the end of June.

Bidding to succeed Larkin are 7 applicants. (Click on the applicant's name to view his or her application).

Paul A. Bryant, associate provost of enrollment management at Albany State University in Albany, Ga.,

Carlos R. Clark, special assistant to the president for accreditation at Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock, Ark.,

Audrey M. Freeman, principal/executive director at Bluford Drew Jemison STEM Academy, Middle-High School in Baltimore, Md.,

Richard J. Gallot Jr., an attorney in Ruston and a former Louisiana state senator and representative,

Angelia Young Jones, an adjunct professor of political science at Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas,

Donnovon L. Outten, associate vice president of academic affairs at Webster University in Webster Groves, Mo., and,

Dessie Mae Sanders, a 9th-grade English and literature teacher at Uplift Education at Summit International Prepatory High School in Arlington, Texas, who also is a great niece of Grambling State founder Charles P. Adams.

The UL System board has said it is seeking a Grambling State president who will inspire trust and confidence and move the school toward continued productive change. The board also says that, although not required, each applicant should have:

an earned doctorate from an accredited institution (preferred)
successful senior experience in an institution of higher education or in other disciplines
strength in fiscal management and philanthropy
the ability to inspire students and faculty and staff members to expand their knowledge and understanding in a multicultural, global society
a commitment to supporting and embracing diversity
an appreciation for the issues and commitment to the challenges of a research university
a commitment to seeking university support through public and private resources
the ability to be innovative and an agent for change
a commitment to athletics
excellent communication skills and a demonstrated ability to work in an environment of collegiality and shared decision-making
extensive experience in developing collaborative educational partnerships with community and business leaders
an appreciation for the arts and unique culture of the area
the ability and desire to maintain open communication with the faculty and staff members, students and alumni
the ability to be entrepreneurial, progressive and holistic
the ability to be a strong advocate for Grambling State at the state, regional and national levels
an appreciation and understanding of quality-of-life issues
the ability and desire to remain as Grambling State president for several years, and,
a desire to maintain strong professional relations with state, regional and local elected officials.

10 2016-07-11

UL System takes hard hit from budget cuts

It’s no secret state funding for higher education in Louisiana is down, but one system seems to be taking the brunt of it. And many students can expect tuition hikes this fall as a result.

State general fund allocations for 2016-17 are down $8.1 million from July 1, 2015, according to the Louisiana Board of Regents, which approves the distribution of such funds each year. The board reviewed and approved this year’s operating budget distribution formula June 29.

Regional universities are seeing reductions — some more drastic than others. Of that $8.1 million reduction, more than $5.5 million is coming from the University of Louisiana System — the state's largest higher education system. That's 68 percent of the total amount of cuts this year.

“From the UL System standpoint we are very disappointed with the distribution,” said Edwin Litolff, ULS vice president for business and finance. “The UL System did take 68 percent of the reduction based upon the formula.”

Officials with the Board of Regents argue that’s to be expected.

“You would expect it to take the largest cut because it has the most students and the most money,” said Terrence Ginn, deputy commissioner for finance and administration for the Board of Regents.

This year, $483 million in state general funds will be distributed to two- and four-year institutions in Louisiana.

RELATED: Take a look at how university funding is decided

State general fund allocations by system for FY 2016-17:

University of Louisiana System: $213,024,999, down from $218,601,857 in 2015-16. Last year’s figures represent funds in both the state general fund as well as state dedications, combining to create an equivalent comparison to 2016-17 figures.
Louisiana State University System: $348,303,880, down significantly from $373,477,242 the previous year. The stark difference here is that LSU Health Sciences Center-Shreveport received an appropriation of about $31 million last year and about $4 million this year.
Southern University System: $43,695,878, down from $44,688,586 in 2015-16.
Louisiana Community and Technical College System: $115,721,328, down from $116,084,441 last year.
Grambling State University will see a $1.3 millionBuy Photo
Grambling State University will see a $1.3 million reduction in state allocated funds this year. (Photo: Henrietta Wildsmith/The Times, Henrietta Wildsmith/The Times)
The system reductions are a trickle-down result from the decrease in total state general fund appropriation from $1 billion to $919 million for FY 2016-17. Of that $919 million, $770 million is available for higher education entities after funding TOPS at 70 percent.

TOPS allocations come in at $149 million, and funding for need-based GO Grants remains at the current year level of $26 million, according to a recap from the Board of Regents.

LSU Health Sciences Center-Shreveport is receiving $4 million in operational funding, and its counterpart in New Orleans is to receive $1 million in legacy costs funding.

Of the University of Louisiana System's nine institutions, some will see dramatic cuts. Southeastern Louisiana University alone is expected to see a decrease in funding to the tune of $1.4 million.

Grambling is losing $1.3 million, but would have lost about $1 million more if not for an earmark, Litolff said. Grambling State University will receive the least amount of state funding out of ULS schools this year, edging Nicholls State out of that spot by about $940,000.

The University of New Orleans is losing more than $1 million. Litolff said one reason Grambling and UNO are being hit so hard is because of continual enrollment losses, which are taken into account in the funding formula.

Grambling State University hosted freshman orientation
Grambling State University hosted freshman orientation in July. The school is receiving a $1.3 million loss in state funding this year. (Photo: Segann March/USA Today Network)
The schools doing “OK” in the funding equation are the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and Louisiana Tech University. That's partly because those schools have seen gains in enrollment, he said, and because both have many upper-level degree programs, which the formula also rewards.

“There is definitely an incentive for those schools to have (master’s and doctorate programs),” Litolff said.

In fact, the Lafayette campus is the only ULS school to have gained in state allocation funding, which is up $34,150 from July 1, 2015. The rest of the ULS institutions show a loss, ranging from about $29,000 at Tech to $1.37 million at Southeastern.

Read more: Locals to sell fig preserves to fund UL endowed chair

Jim Henderson, president of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, said the reduction at his school is $532,000 less than July 1, 2015, funding. But after a $100,000 mid-year cut in 2015-16, it's more like a loss of $432,000.

"It's tough after eight years of significant cuts," Henderson said Tuesday.

In fact, Louisiana is second only to Arizona when it comes to cuts to state funding for higher education over the last 10 years.

"(But) it could have been worse," Henderson said.

It does present a funding gap, but it won’t be handled by layoffs or cut programs, which he points out was the way of “the old business model” of higher education when institutions relied more heavily on state funding. But programs actually generate more dollars than costs by attracting more students who pay tuition.

“Now to cut programs rarely makes sense,” Henderson said. “At Northwestern we’re forging ahead. Cutting back right now is not in our vision.”

How will schools fill the gap?

“We have to generate it,” Henderson said. “We generate that (money) by growth. We generate that in funding efficiencies, which is usually about using technology (for cost-savings).”

At May commencement Northwestern State University's
At May commencement Northwestern State University's student-athlete Jalan West (left) introduces Gov. John Bel Edwards as guest speaker. Northwestern is receiving about a $500,000 cut in state funding this year. (Photo: Melinda Martinez/The Town Talk, Melinda Martinez/The Town Talk)
NSU will not increase tuition, he said.

“We are currently evaluating fees but will work to minimize any increase,” Henderson said.

But some schools in the system won't have that option, Litolff said. Decisions regarding tuition increases at individual schools will need to be made in the coming weeks as classes start in August.

“I think what the challenge is it’s a combination of the losses of the last eight years,” Litolff said. “Last year we had a $12 million cut for TOPS and a $6 million cut this year. The one way institutions have been able to minimize that is by raising tuition.

“Unfortunately, our institutions will have to increase tuition to minimize this loss from the state.”

It’s perhaps the only response left.

“We’ve cut costs the last 10 years,” he said. “We’ve cut programs. We’ve cut jobs.”

But this “solution” also presents a challenge.

“Really right now the challenge is raising tuition,” Litolff said. “Everybody’s raised tuition. But the struggle is we will see declines in enrollment overall. We’ve lost about 10,000 students the last several years in higher education (across Louisiana).”

Read more: UL police investigating alleged rape at fraternity house

Louisiana State University of Alexandria graduates
Louisiana State University of Alexandria graduates participate in fall commencement last December. The school and others in the LSU System will be raising tuition to offset cuts in state funding this year. (Photo: Miranda Klein/The Town Talk)
The LSU System is raising tuition by 4.95 percent ($242 per semester) for Louisiana resident undergraduates at the flagship university, 3.91 percent for LSU of Alexandria and 2.57 percent for LSU of Shreveport, according to a July 1 email sent to the LSU Board of Supervisors from F. King Alexander, president of the system and its flagship.

“The flagship’s adjustment is less than half of the amount permitted under the law (LA GRAD Act) for this year and well below what we have exercised in previous years,” he wrote in the email.

“To keep tuition as low as possible, the flagship will also implement additional cost-saving measures,” he continued. “This mix of cuts and revenue would allow LSU to make targeted investments in quality while remaining administratively lean.”

But it won’t fix everything.

“Unfortunately, this approach will not yield all of the quality improvements I would like to make happen — namely in the quantity of faculty to serve the growing student population — but it is a positive start,” Alexander wrote. “We do not know how long we will have to hold the ‘escrow’, but we intend to invest whatever amount is unused in quality enhancements.”

The escrow is in response to the governor’s recommendation to put aside up to 5 percent of the system’s state appropriation in anticipation of a mid-year cut attributable to a potential $200 million shortfall in the state’s FY2017 budget, Alexander wrote.

“While the escrowed amount may appear to be an inconvenience, it is actually an improvement over prior years in which there was no foreknowledge of a possible cut,” he said in the email.

Read more: School board approves new version of district improvement plan

The Louisiana Community & Technical College System will not be raising tuition, representatives said. The LCTCS Board of Supervisors’s unanimous decision last month to not raise tuition marked the first time in five years that the system’s students won’t see a hike in their bills.

“In the five previous years we have been increasing tuition,” said Quintin Taylor, executive director of media relations for the system. “The board was pretty adamant about not raising tuition and impacting our students. Our key mission is access. If you raise tuition you do more harm to your mission.”

LCTCS Chief External Affairs Officer David Helveston said the system will continue to “look at efficiencies.”

“We don’t plan to look at program closures, but at program alignment,” Helveston said. “So it’s not closures for the sake of closures. We want to look at alignment of programs to the needs of industry. Because people who graduate from those programs are getting good family-sustaining jobs.”

Some students in the Southern University System might see tuition increases, but not at three of its campuses — Southern University in Baton Rouge, Southern’s Law Center or Southern University at Shreveport — because the schools failed to meet certain requirements of the GRAD Act, which allows institutions to raise tuition if they meet performance measures lined out in the legislation.

If tuition hikes come at Southern University New Orleans, system representatives would want to keep it minimal.

"We are also aware of and sensitive to the extent to which our students have been burdened with the increasing cost of education," SU System President Ray L. Belton said in an email. "In light of that, the SU System will do its part to minimize the degree to which tuition is increased on any of its campuses.”

Belton, Helveston, Henderson and other higher ed leaders have pointed out that for many schools the situation is bad but not as dire as it could have been.

“I think the important thing to put this into perspective is where we stood in February,” Helveston said. Those projected budgets were decimating.”

They gave credit to the governor and Legislature for keeping losses down.

“That being the case, we are able to continue our focus on the needs of workforce and industry and the needs of the students…,” Helveston said. “If some of the earlier scenarios had come true that wouldn’t be the case.”

University of Louisiana System schools:

Grambling State University in Grambling
Louisiana Tech University in Ruston
McNeese State University in Lake Charles
Nicholls State University in Thibodaux
Northwestern State University in Natchitoches (main campus)
Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
University of Louisiana at Monroe
University of New Orleans
10 2016-07-11

Take a look at how university funding is decided

The Louisiana Board of Regents implemented for the first time an outcomes-based formula for distributing state funding for higher education. Here's a look at how it works.

“The way the formula is set up as a benchmark,” said Edwin Litolff, University of Louisiana System vice president for business and finance.

The formula approved June 29 by the Board of Regents looks at outcomes or “performance-based metrics” — such as student success and number of completers — as well as costs incurred by schools, such as faculty salaries and materials for classes.

This performance-based side is required by Act 462 of the 2014 Regular Session. Terrence Ginn, deputy commissioner for finance and administration for the Board of Regents, said the outcomes-based formula mandates three things — outcomes should be considered; costs should be considered; and the board cannot allow dramatic swings in funding one way or the other.

Locals to sell fig preserves to fund UL endowed chair

“The only way we can prevent dramatic shifts is to put an emphasis on the base,” Ginn said.

So the board went with a 70-15-15 plan this year — weighting the base 70 percent, while counting outcomes and costs at 15 percent each.

The board plans to gradually shift that makeup over the next few years and “hope to totally get away from the base,” should additional funds be there, Ginn said.

The board did not utilize the formula for distribution for the past two years because it was the Legislature's request not to run it, Ginn said. Act 462 mandates that Regents implement the formula no later than FY 2017, so the board complied with the law and implemented it for the first time this year.

A lot of factors go into the formula, and institutions receive funding based on those factors. Some classes are more expensive than others and are weighted as such. Litolff gave some examples.

LSU, UL ranked in best college ballparks

It takes into account students taking 30 credits a year, faculty salaries and on an average class size. Then the Board of Regents comes up with a dollar-per-credit hour amount. It might be $100 per credit hour at Northwestern State or $160 at LSU, Litolff gave as examples. It’s a different amount for each institution.

The average class size once was 25 students a class, but in recent years was increased to 26. This year it was changed to 22 students a class but only for two-year schools.

Then they look at the “program mix,” he said, like liberal arts classes are cheaper both in materials and faculty salary. Business, engineering and nursing classes are more expensive to operate, for example.

So a liberal arts class such as English or history is weighted a 1, while an engineering class might be a 3.4. So it’s three times more expensive, Litolff explained.

Then there is the difference in salaries for faculty in master’s and doctorate programs compared to, say, faculty at two-year institutions.

Litolff argues the “biggest driver” in the formula’s results this year is the change in average class size for two-year community and technical colleges.

Louisiana ranks 33rd for fiscal health

“The initial formula request with an average class size of 26 students was $970 million,” he explained. “When they lowered it to 22 per class the request became $1,008,000, adding about $38 million to go to two-year schools only.”

“The funds were allocated with the additional $38 million in the base. That created the shift where four-year schools lost money and two-year schools gained,” he said.

But Ginn disagrees with class size as a "driver." He said that factor shifted approximately $3.7 million of the total $483 million appropriated to two- and four-year institutions, which shift represents less than 1 percent of the total allocation.

Ginn argues that the largest reductions occurred because the formula has not been run since FY 2014 and there have been significant enrollment losses in that system since that year. So as enrollment dropped at Grambling and UNO, for example, it wasn’t starkly reflected until now.

Factors such as enrollment and class size can hurt an institution twice when it comes to the funding formula because it affects both the costs side and the performance metrics side of the equation, Litolff said. That was the case for schools such as Grambling and UNO.

This seems to be just the beginning of a conversation with the Board of Regents. Litolff said a number of ULS presidents spoke at the Board of Regents meeting June 29 and expressed concern over the formula. Presidents of LSU and Southern University and the governor also were present at the meeting.

“What I did see is that board members are very committed to looking at those issues,” Litolff said.

He concluded the interview with, “I just want to reemphasize that we are disappointed the UL System took 68 percent of the ($8.1 million in) cuts, and we are looking forward to working with the Regents to get the formula in line.”
10 2016-05-18

UA seniors earn $1.5M in scholarships

INEVILLE — With its second graduating class, University Academy of Central Louisiana is seeing about $1.5 million awarded in scholarships to the class of 2016.

This fall, 32 of UA's 43 graduates will attend four-year universities within the state, and seven will start at two-year community colleges. Another will enter the Louisiana National Guard.

They earned their post-secondary spots with high scores, including eight students who had an ACT score of 27 or better. Half of the class scored higher than 20, which is the minimum requirement for the University of Louisiana System. More than half the class had an A-average, with 23 graduates having at least a 3.5 GPA.

Those stats not only get students into college, but they help pay for it. UA graduating seniors received a total of $1,264,800 in academic scholarships, $189,600 in athletic scholarships and $72,000 in military grants.

University Academy of Central Louisiana graduates NekoBuy Photo
University Academy of Central Louisiana graduates Neko Atkinson, Alexis Guidry, Jada Swafford, Lauren Rachal and Shy Thompson adjust one another's caps before commencement Monday at Guinn Auditorium on the Louisiana College campus in Pineville. (Photo: Leigh Guidry/The Town Talk)
University Academy of Central Louisiana graduates CasieBuy Photo
University Academy of Central Louisiana graduates Casie Guillory, Demi Adams, Hannah Glaze and Rowan McConville are ready for commencement Monday at Guinn Auditorium on the Louisiana College campus in Pineville. (Photo: Leigh Guidry/The Town Talk)
“This class has far exceeded the challenge they were given last year at graduation," Director DeEtte Loyd said. "We challenged them to triple the scholarships from last year, and they surpassed it. This class has shown the community that University Academy is a school with a vision and a mission."

Two seniors, Alex Schimmoller and Rowan McConville, received the Tulane Legislative Scholarship, which covers tuition for one year at Tulane University. Not only is he senior class president, but Schimmoller also is graduating with more than 50 college credits already completed, thanks to the early college model of University Academy.

The school opened its doors August 2014 on the campus of Louisiana State University of Alexandria and signed an agreement this year to use Louisiana College in Pineville as a second site.

RELATED: Agreement means second location for UA

"The most challenging part was probably adjusting to a new landscape," Schimmoller said. "With dual-enrollment courses at LSUA, you go into classes with people who are anywhere from two to 20 years older than you."

University Academy of Central Louisiana valedictorianBuy Photo
University Academy of Central Louisiana valedictorian Alex Schimmoller and fellow graduate Gavin Murphy are leaving high school with more than 50 college credits already completed. (Photo: Leigh Guidry/The Town Talk)
He and his classmates adjusted and learned from the experience, which he said was well worth it.

"I like that we were in actual college classes, not just taking them online," senior Casie Guillory said. "We could get used to the environment."

The dual-enrollment opportunities also drew McConville to University Academy, and now she feels prepared to head to Tulane.

"I really wanted to get a head start for college," she said. "I definitely feel ready."
10 2016-05-09
Baton Rouge

Our Views: In dire budget crisis, state leaders need to start finding answers for higher education

College presidents make pretty handsome salaries these days, so perhaps in a tough economy across Louisiana, it is difficult to find sympathy for them. But as they lead the state’s institutions of higher education, Louisiana’s budget situation is about as bad a hand as they can be dealt.

They have to operate on regular schedules for hiring and contracting for services, which requires projecting student enrollments and scheduling enough faculty and staff to meet the needs of those in the seats in the classrooms and labs.

And nobody really knows how much the state is going to kick in for public colleges and universities.

The enrollment question is vexing, in part, because the budget is an estimated $600 million out of balance. Though Gov. John Bel Edwards wants another special session to raise taxes to fill the gap, the Republican-led House appears reluctant to do so. And Edwards’ budget, without the money he wants, does not at this point fully fund the popular TOPS tuition waivers.

Unlike college presidents who have come and gone from out of state, Dan Reneau served for many years as president of Louisiana Tech University in Ruston. He is now the interim president of the University of Louisiana system, and he told the House Appropriations Committee the blunt truth.

“We need some answers now,” he said. “Students are definitely making up their minds now.”

The voice of a respected educator is not a political statement but reflects the weird unreality of a budget battle that undermines the institutions that the politicians pretend to be proud of — most of the year, anyway.

Frustration on the part of the college leaders clearly is not limited to them but to most state agencies, except those lucky few significantly financed with fees, or federal funds and state fees. But there also are numerous fee increases moving through the Legislature, a “tax” increase that may be levied on one particular industry or group of industries but is in economic reality a cost of doing business that is passed on to customers.

The education marketplace is significantly different from most state agencies. If your budget is cut, as the colleges have been over the past few years under former Gov. Bobby Jindal, there are back-office functions that can be streamlined or other “easy” cuts made.

But sooner or later — and later is where we are in Louisiana — the easy cut has been made, and the further reductions involve reducing services and significantly impacting hiring. Add to that the reality of a worldwide competition for talent, and you have a recipe for Louisiana’s long-term economic and social decline. The smart people are mobile and eagerly sought after by other states and their institutions.

The voice of experience of Reneau ought to be heeded by lawmakers. Answers, one way or another, ought to be generated by the state’s leadership.
10 2016-04-29

Russo Park name OK'd, with conditions

Call it Russo Park … maybe.

The University of Louisiana System has OK’ed naming the University of Louisiana at Lafayette baseball complex in honor of the local Russo family but conditions were added to that request Thursday.

There are two conditions: UL alumnus Christopher Russo, who pledged a contribution of $5 million for improvements at the baseball complex, must fulfill that obligation, and the system’s legal counsel — the system is represented by the Baton Rouge firm of DeCuir, Clark and Adams — must give final approval. Eventually, UL hopes to complex some $10 million in improvements for the baseball complex.

The conditions were added Thursday in amended language to an initial request before the supervisors, a request handled first in the Board of Supervisors’ facilities committee. Board member Mark Romero of Lafayette, who has represented the 3rd Congressional District on the board since 2013, offered the amended language in committee. The finance committee approved the amended item; the full board approved it later Thursday.

Romero declined comment Thursday afternoon.

UL President E. Joseph Savoie requested in an April 7 letter that the complex be named for the Russo family, usually a routine request. The UL Board of Supervisors has oversight over UL and eight other Louisiana universities: ULM, Louisiana Tech, Grambling State, Northwestern State, McNeese, Southeastern Louisiana, Nicholls State and the University of New Orleans.

Civil action filed in Harris County, Texas court last week named Christopher Russo as a civil defendant. Superior Energy of Houston, parent company of Stabil Drilling in Lafayette, contends in the civil action that Russo and other defendants defrauded Stabil of tens of millions of dollars by funneling money away from the company and to companies owned by the defendants.

Sammie Russo, who died in 2013, founded Stabil Drilling more than three decades ago and later sold it to Superior. Christopher Russo remained with Stabil Drilling as its chief operating officer until recently.
10 2016-04-12

UL System braces for cuts while celebrating value

BATON ROUGE — Students and administrators from the University of Louisiana System's nine schools celebrated their institutions here at the Capitol Monday on the eve of another round of recommended budget cuts that could erode their effectiveness in the future.

"Everyone is in survival mode; we're not building," said University of Louisiana at Lafayette President Joseph Savoie. "We've got to find a solution where there is some stability."

Gov. John Bel Edwards will announce his recommended reductions Tuesday to close the estimated $750 million shortfall in the 2016-17 budget that begins July 1.

No state-funded agency will be spared, whether it be cuts to TOPS, the state's popular college tuition program, higher education or the potential closure of many of Louisiana's safety net hospitals.

RELATED: State parks, historic sites could close with budget cuts

"The budget presentation Tuesday is going to be sobering," Edwards said. "It's impossible to fashion a budget that fully funds what most people in Louisiana consider critical priorities (with a $750 million shortfall)."

Edwards hopes to mitigate the cuts during a second special session in which he will ask for more tax revenue, but until or if that happens, the reductions will be placed in the budget. "If we raise more revenue I would love to fully fund TOPS and the safety net hospitals," he said. "But the budget is no place to do contingent funding."

That leaves higher education vulnerable. More than $700 million has already been cut from colleges and universities during the past eight years.

"Higher ed is to the point where it can't take anymore," University of Louisiana at Monroe President Nick Bruno said. "The governor has made it clear he doesn't want to cut higher education and we believe him. It's time for the Legislature to help us reverse this trend."

University of Louisiana System President Dan Reneau said the administration has told him to expect an 8 to 12 percent overall cut.

"It's huge," Reneau said. "And it's magnified by whatever happens with TOPS. If TOPS isn't fully funded, it could cause drops in enrollment, which would make the cut even worse."

Savoie agreed, saying 80 percent of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's budget is funded through tuition. "Any reduction in enrollment is a direct hit," he said.

Northwestern State University President Jim Henderson said his school and others "are already suffering the consequences of disinvesting in higher education. If we suffer any more cuts we must be empowered to create programs that will be responsive to business and industry at the speed of business rather than six months or a year," he said. "We need the same authority to drop programs that aren't cost effective."

The crisis isn't lost on students and has been elevated since TOPS is threatened.

"Many students are asking me what can be done to help," said Mackenzie Potts, the president-elect of Louisiana Tech University's Student Government Association. "The uncertainty probably generates the most concern. We want to make an impact where we can, so highlighting the importance of higher education at events like this is important."

Follow Greg Hilburn on Twitter @GregHilburn1
10 2016-03-21
Associated Press

Search begins for president of University of La. System

By The Associated Press
BATON ROUGE -- The search for a new president of the University of Louisiana System is underway.
On Wednesday, The Advocate reports the Board of Supervisors signed off on a $49,500 contract with R.H. Perry and Associates to conduct a search for the president to replace Sandra Woodley, who resigned late last year.
Former Louisiana Tech President Dan Reneau has been serving as interim president.
The UL System represents almost 90,000 students across nine universities including University of New Orleans, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Louisiana Tech, McNeese State and Grambling State University.
The deadline for applicants to apply for the position is April 15.
The firm will recommend applicants to the UL System Board of Supervisors on April 28, and the board is expected to conduct interviews in May.
10 2016-03-18
Baton Rouge

Search begins for new president of University of Louisiana System

The search for a new president of the University of Louisiana System is underway.

Former Louisiana Tech President Dan Reneau has been serving as interim president.

The UL System represents almost 90,000 students across nine universities including University of New Orleans, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Louisiana Tech and Grambling State University.

The deadline for applicants to apply for the position is April 15.

The firm will recommend applicants to the UL System Board of Supervisors on April 28, and the board is expected to conduct interviews in May.

The search kicks off just as another high profile president search in the system ends. On Thursday, John Nicklow, UNO provost, was selected to by the school’s president over New Orleans Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin.

Follow Rebekah Allen on Twitter @rebekahallen.
10 2016-02-15

Accrediting body says Louisiana colleges at serious risk

Louisiana colleges and universities could be sanctioned by a regional accrediting board if state officials cannot stabilize higher education funding.

Belle Wheelan, president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, sent the letter Thursday to Jay Dardenne, Louisiana’s commissioner of administration.

The Daily Advertiser obtained the letter Friday from the University of Louisiana System.

The association is responsible for accrediting all Louisiana higher education institutions.

“If the institutions are unable to demonstrate continued financial stability or continue to enroll students, the Board of SACSCOC would have to consider a public sanction of the institutions or a withdrawal of their accreditation,” Wheelan wrote. “Public sanctions have a chilling effect on the enrollment of potential students and withdrawal of accreditation results in the loss of federal financial aid.”

Wheelan noted that, to remain accredited, institutions must demonstrate sound financial footing. She also noted that, in a worst case scenario, some colleges and universities could have to close before the end of the spring semester.

If that were to happen, federal regulations state that the institutions must provide a plan on how students can continue their studies at another college or university, Wheelan wrote.

“This would create a tremendous hardship on students who might be unable to get a job because the completion of their degree is needed, or worst case scenario, they might drop out of college all together,” Wheelan wrote.

Wheelan continued that she is “painfully aware” of the state’s position, “but the lack of state funding is putting Louisiana colleges and universities in SERIOUS risk and placing students’ academic careers in jeopardy.”

According to the SACSCOC website, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is up for re-accreditation in 2020. South Louisiana Community College is up in 2018.

In addition, LSU’s next accreditation is in 2020, Louisiana Tech’s is in 2025, McNeese State’s is in 2017, Northwestern State’s is in 2017, Southern University’s is in 2020 and the University of Louisiana at Monroe’s is in 2019.
10 2016-01-26
Baton Rouge

Louisiana colleges and universities detail what budget cuts would mean

Louisiana's public colleges and universities have submitted plans to Gov. John Bel Edwards' budget staff detailing how they would deal with very deep midyear financial cuts over the next few months if forced.

Edwards' chief budget architect, Jay Dardenne, warned the state's higher education officials last week that they would have to cut $131 million out of their budget before June 30 if the Louisiana Legislature doesn't agree to raise some taxes over the next two months.

The state has to fill an overall budget hole of $700 million to $750 million during that time period, and the governor is proposing tax hikes as well as cuts as part of his solution. The $131 million in higher education reductions would become a reality if no taxes are raised, according to Dardenne.

That cut to higher education is large enough to fundamentally alter how colleges and universities operate in the state. To put that figure in perspective, the entire Southern University system only receives –- through federal money, state allocations and tuition -- $129.5 million annually.

In other words, Dardenne is asking for Louisiana's colleges and universities to prepare to cut a piece of higher education's funding that is equivalent to cutting the entire Southern University system. And they would have just a few months to do it.

On Monday evening (Jan. 26), higher education leaders responded by outlining what type of actions they would have to take to absorb that type of reduction. The amount of each university system's cut was determined by how much funding they get from the state. Systems that get a larger proportion of funding from the state, such as LSU, were asked by Dardenne to prepare for a larger cut.

Here are some highlights of how each higher education system responded:

LSU system - $65 million cut, See the full plan for reductions here

The Baton Rouge campus would implement a student fee of up to $690 in the middle of the semester. A $690 fee would completely cover the entire budget deficit at the Baton Rouge campus, so it is unlikely to go that high -- but it would still be significant.
The LSU Medical School would have to close undergraduate programs in areas like medical lab technology, dental hygiene, dental lab technology and a B.S. nursing program.
The agricultural center would declare financial exigency -- essentially academic bankruptcy -- so it could layoff as much staff as possible and furlough the employees that remain.
The Baton Rouge campus would also implement an enrollment cap in future years that is lower than the number of students on campus now. The enrollment cap would be enforced through higher admission standards. In total, LSU would anticipate losing 3,000 students.
Pennington Biomedical Center would be forced to return grant money it had already been awarded because it would not have enough staff or resources to carry forth with its research projects.
University of Louisiana system - $38 million cut, See the full plan for reductions here

Some of the system's institutions would have to declare financial exigency, which is roughly equivalent to academic bankruptcy.
Non-tenured faculty, classified staff and non-classified staff would be furloughed.
Some schools would risk loss of accreditation.
Faculty and staff would have to forego salary increases.
The only transfer students accepted would be those associated with athletics.
Southern University system - $4.6 million cut, See the full plan for reductions here

Twenty-seven faculty members at the Southern University Law Center would be laid off in the middle of the semester, causing some classes to be canceled.
The law school would stop paying certain fees and dues needed for accreditation.
Southern University in New Orleans (SUNO) would lay off 50 percent of its adjunct faculty in the middle of the semester.
All non-tenured faculty and staff making over $30,000 annually at Southern's main campus in Baton Rouge would have to take 19 furlough days.
Summer school would be cancelled.
Louisiana Community and Technical College System - $20.2 million cut, See the plan for reductions here

Lay off 1,200 employees statewide starting March 15 through at least June 30.
10 2015-12-14
New Orleans

Dan Reneau named interim president of Univ. of Louisiana System

The University of Louisiana System's governing board has chosen a temporary president to fill the position when Sandra Woodley steps down at the end of this year. The board on Thursday (Dec. 10) appointed Dan Reneau, who was president of Louisiana Tech in Ruston for 26 years before retiring in 2013.

Woodley abruptly resigned in November, three years after she took the job. She will remain in an advisory role through March 15.

The University of Louisiana System serves almost 90,000 students at nine universities: Southeastern Louisiana in Hammond, UL-Lafayette, UL-Monroe, the University of New Orleans, McNeese State in Lake Charles, Nicholls State in Thibodaux, Louisiana Tech, Grambling State and Northwestern State in Natchitoches.

On Wednesday, a day before the board's vote, members of the UNO Faculty Senate voiced concern that the system president role would be filled by Randy Moffett, the retired system president. Woodley had tapped Moffett as the future interim UNO president, and some faculty thought Gregg Lassen, UNO's vice president for business affairs, would take over as interim UNO president were Moffett to return to the system job. In response, the Faculty Senate issued a unanimous vote of no confidence in Lassen as the prospective interim president.

But according to a letter from Faculty Senate head Cherie Trumbach, Moffett is still expected to take over as the interim UNO president on Feb. 1. Speaking of Reneau, Trumbach said, "I understand that he is well-respected and has a good working relationship with Dr. Moffett."
10 2015-12-14


I remember the first time I met him, I was a sophomore in my journalism classes and working on a piece for The Tech Talk.

He was personable. He told me stories of when he and wife were at Louisiana Tech University. Honestly I was nervous before I went into the interview. And afterward I was shocked.

I was expecting Dan Reneau, the 13th president of Tech, to be a little more stiff — after all he had been in the position long before I was even thought of by my parents.
10 2015-12-14

Reneau named interim head of UL System

Dan Reneau, retired Louisiana Tech University president, has been named interim president of the University of Louisiana System.

The ULS Board of Supervisors named Reneau as interim system president while a successor is sought for Sandra Woodley, who announced her resignation as system president in November.

Reneau retired in 2013 after serving for 26 years as president of Louisiana Tech.

"We are thrilled to have Dr. Reneau lead our system during this time of transition," System Board Chair E. Gerald "T-Boy" Hebert said. "His vast experience, not just in higher education but within the UL System, made him the ideal candidate for the job."

Woodley will step down as president at the end of the year but will remain on staff in an advisory capacity through March 15. Woodley has served as system president since January 2013.

Originally from Woodville, Miss., Reneau earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering at Louisiana Tech in 1963 and a master's degree in chemical engineering in 1964. After earning a doctorate in chemical engineering from Clemson University in 1966, he returned to his alma mater to teach in 1967 as an assistant professor of chemical engineering.

In 1972, Reneau established Louisiana Tech's department of biomedical engineering — one of the first of its kind in the United States and only the fifth undergraduate program of its kind to become accredited in the nation. He demanded that same level of excellence while serving as vice president for academic affairs from 1980 until 1987, achieving accreditation for every major academic program.

In February 1987, Reneau became the university's 13th president. Among his many accomplishments over the next 26 years were implementing selective admissions in 1992, building state-of-the-art academic and research facilities, growing doctoral programs and creating a research and technology park.

Now a nationally respected research university, Louisiana Tech ranks high on numerous lists, among them a distinction as northern Louisiana's only Tier One National University. The university is among the Top 30 in the southeastern U.S. for starting median pay for graduates (PayScale.com's 2012-2013 College Salary Report.). It led the state and made the national ranking of Newsweek and The Daily Beast's list of Top 25 Most Affordable Colleges in the U.S. and boasts the second highest graduation rate in the state.
10 2015-12-11
Baton Rouge

UL board taps former Louisiana Tech leader as interim system president

For the time being, the University of Louisiana System will be led by a familiar face: Daniel Reneau, the former longtime president of Louisiana Tech University in Ruston.

The system’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Thursday to hire Reneau as interim president. Reneau retired from Louisiana Tech in 2013 after 26 years at the helm.

He replaces outgoing system President Sandra Woodley, who announced last month that she will step down at the end of the year and remain on staff in an advisory capacity through March.

Reneau’s appointment had immediate implications for the University of New Orleans, where rumors about alternative succession plans had circulated among the faculty.

Many faculty members thought the UL board was considering UNO’s own designated interim leader, Randy Moffett, to be the temporary system president. And that notion apparently had some merit. The UL board considered both Moffett and Reneau before the members went into closed-door discussions of the appointment.

The possibility of Moffett getting the promotion caused jitters about his potential replacement at UNO, and the UNO Faculty Senate took the pre-emptive step this week of passing a no-confidence vote in the school’s vice president for business affairs, Gregg Lassen, whom many expected to be next in line as the school’s interim president, replacing the retired Peter Fos.

Lassen has been at UNO since 2013. Wednesday’s resolution, which passed 30-0, said Lassen has been unable to provide “viable strategies for dealing effectively with UNO’s budgetary struggles” and accused him of demonstrating “troubling signs of disengagement.”

Moffett was named UNO’s interim president in October after Fos said he would retire in January. His four-year tenure has been marked by steep funding cuts and dwindling enrollment.

Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.
10 2015-12-11
Baton Rouge

Interim president named for University of Louisiana System

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The governing board for the University of Louisiana System has named a temporary system president until it finds a permanent successor for Sandra Woodley, who is stepping down from the job.

Dan Reneau was named Thursday as interim system leader during the transition. Reneau was president of Louisiana Tech University for 26 years before retiring in 2013.

In November, Woodley abruptly announced she was resigning as system president at the end of December, giving no reason for her decision to leave the position she'd held for nearly three years. She will remain in an advisory role through March 15.

The UL System serves nearly 90,000 students at nine universities: Southeastern Louisiana University, UL-Lafayette, UL-Monroe, the University of New Orleans, McNeese State, Nicholls State, Louisiana Tech, Grambling State and Northwestern State.
10 2015-12-11

Reneau named interim head of UL System

Dan Reneau, retired Louisiana Tech University president, has been named interim president of the University of Louisiana System.

The ULS Board of Supervisors named Dr. Dan Reneau as interim system president while a successor is sought for Sandra Woodley, who announced her resignation as system president in November.

Reneau retired in 2013 after serving for 26 years as president of Louisiana Tech.

"We are thrilled to have Dr. Reneau lead our system during this time of transition," System Board Chair E. Gerald "T-Boy" Hebert said. "His vast experience, not just in higher education but within the UL System, made him the ideal candidate for the job."

Woodley will step down as president at the end of the year but will remain on staff in an advisory capacity through March 15. Woodley has served as system president since January 2013.

Originally from Woodville, Miss., Reneau earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering at Louisiana Tech in 1963 and a master's degree in chemical engineering in 1964. After earning a doctorate in chemical engineering from Clemson University in 1966, he returned to his alma mater to teach in 1967 as an assistant professor of chemical engineering.

In 1972, Reneau established Louisiana Tech's department of biomedical engineering — one of the first of its kind in the United States and only the fifth undergraduate program of its kind to become accredited in the nation. He demanded that same level of excellence while serving as vice president for academic affairs from 1980 until 1987, achieving accreditation for every major academic program.

In February 1987, Reneau became the university's 13th president. Among his many accomplishments over the next 26 years were implementing selective admissions in 1992, building state-of-the-art academic and research facilities, growing doctoral programs and creating a research and technology park.

Now a nationally respected research university, Louisiana Tech ranks high on numerous lists, among them a distinction as northern Louisiana's only Tier One National University. The university is among the Top 30 in the southeastern U.S. for starting median pay for graduates (PayScale.com's 2012-2013 College Salary Report.). It led the state and made the national ranking of Newsweek and The Daily Beast's list of Top 25 Most Affordable Colleges in the U.S. and boasts the second highest graduation rate in the state.
10 2015-12-09
Baton Rouge

Letters: Thanks to UL system leader

On behalf of many others in the business and civic communities in our state, we would like to extend our sincere thanks to Dr. Sandra Woodley for her service as president of the University of Louisiana system. She has been a tremendous asset to Louisiana in her tenure, and her leadership, intellect and spirit of cooperation will be sorely missed.

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Dr. Woodley came to the UL system at a time of tremendous change in higher education in our state. Budgets were being slashed and the leadership of all of our postsecondary systems was in a state of transition. She made her presence felt immediately and in a positive way.

Her energy was undeniable, and her ability to work closely with the leaders of the other postsecondary education systems was refreshing in a way that truly made a difference. Perhaps nowhere was that more evident than in the creation of the WISE fund last year. The intent of this $40 million fund to stir innovation and performance-based competition in postsecondary education has been praised by university leaders, the business community and workforce developers as a model for future funding that can stimulate positive change in higher education.

Though WISE represents only one of the initiatives Dr. Woodley helped lead, it is indicative of her philosophy to champion innovative approaches to yield meaningful and accountable results in higher education.

With her recent resignation, Louisiana loses an impeccable leader who, in just a relatively short period of time, has left a lasting mark on postsecondary education in our state. Thank you for your service, Dr. Woodley, and please know that your accomplishments are appreciated, and your leadership, skills and infectious personality will be missed by many.

Barry Erwin

president, Council for Better Louisiana

Baton Rouge

Michael Olivier

CEO, Committee of 100

Baton Rouge
10 2015-12-03

Woodley: 'I have made a difference'

University of Louisiana System President Sandra Woodley doesn’t have the Louisiana line in her rear-view mirror just yet, although she says it’s likely she will leave the state for a new opportunity.

Woodley, who announced her resignation to the ULS Board of Supervisors on Nov. 20, gave no reason for her decision at the time and has remained mum about her plans.

“I’ll know more about what my next step is in a few months,” she said in an exclusive interview with Gannett Louisiana. “I’ve got good options.”

Her last day as system president is Dec. 31, and she will remain available in an advisory capacity until March 15.

Since announcing her resignation, she’s continued with other higher education system leaders in the state to complete the “return on education” initiative, which will roll out soon.

One of Woodley’s oft-discussed concerns during her three years as system president has been the large number of adults in the state who have not attempted post-secondary education. Louisiana ranks 45th in the nation for the percent of its population enrolled in postsecondary education, and 46th in terms of adults who have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

“Return on education” is a multi-layered strategy designed to address this issue.

She’s also been involved with the transition work of Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards, and is interested in working toward developing “a reasonable, performance-based methodology” for higher education funding. She believes Edwards understands that the institutions’ base state funding is so low, across-the-board cuts to make budget ends meet are no longer an option.

“I’m really impressed,” she said of Edwards. "He understands issues with the funding mechanism for higher education and also understands the higher-ed mission is not just workforce development or 'building widgets.'”

During her three years as leader of the nine-university system with its 90,000 students, Woodley is proud of the strategic alliances and collaborative relationships built with the leaders of the state’s other higher education systems, whom she fondly called “my brothers.”

“This particular group of leaders has had a very clear focus on things we could do and changes we could make to improve the situation here,” she said. “These are honest brokers who care about the outcome. This gave us the ability to speak with one voice.”

That unified speech allowed them to “change the narrative” about higher education in the Legislature from something viewed as an expense to an investment. That, in turn, resulted in the Legislature’s willingness to “stop the bleeding” of higher education funding, and begin the process of reinvesting with passage and funding of the WISE program.

Woodley also led three presidential searches, and the outcome of those is a source of satisfaction because the selections were merit-based, as opposed to years past when university presidential appointments were tinged with politics. The system is about to embark on a search for a new University of New Orleans president, and “it is my deepest wish that whomever succeeds me will see that it, too, is merit-based,” she said.

The work of the past three years was “as hard as I thought it would be, but I really enjoy that,” Woodley said. It’s also important to her that the work continue, and that the new system leader be someone who also understands the value of working with the other higher education systems.

“I believe I have made a difference and I’m proud of that,” she said. “I will look back at this time with fondness.“
10 2015-11-24

How Video Games Are Helping New Orleans Rebuild

New Orleans is celebrating 10 years of growth post-Katrina. One of the economic areas the city, as well as the state of Louisiana, has focused on since the Category 5 hurricane caused an estimated $150 billion in damage in 2005 is video game development. The state has offered as much as 35% incentives for game developers interested in starting up new studios or expanding existing studios.

Newport Beach, Calif.-based inXile Entertainment is the latest game studio to take up residency in New Orleans. The developer behind The Bard’s Tale franchise just opened up a new satellite studio in the Crescent City after exploring options in Colorado and Texas. Brian Fargo, CEO of inXile Entertainment, says the plan is to move the company’s quality assurance testing from outside contractors to internal oversight in the new studio. In addition, production will slowly be ramped up with a mixture of California staff and new hires. Overall, the new studio will allow the company to increase its development output by one game.

“Beyond the financial bonuses, we have access now to talent from the East Coast,” Fargo says. “It’s a tough pitch to get them all the way to California, but the South has already proven to be a viable option for people.”

InXile Entertainment is the second veteran game company to expand to New Orleans this year, following in the footsteps of Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based High Voltage Software. Kerry Ganofsky, owner of High Voltage Software, says like California, Illinois offers no tax incentives for game development. When Ganofsky decided to explore expansion cities, New Orleans won out over Austin, Dallas, and Atlanta. High Voltage Software has its new studio working on the virtual reality game, Damaged Core, for Samsung Gear VR.

“GNO Inc. and New Orleans support the video game industry, whereas Illinois doesn’t have us on the radar,” Ganofsky says. “New Orleans offers a better environment for our employees, more affordable living, and we now offer the option of no snow, which is great for recruiting out of the southern belt.”

According to Michael Hecht, president and CEO of Greater New Orleans (GNO) Inc., Louisiana provides a tax credit of up to 25.2% on qualified payroll and 18% for qualified production expenditures for software development through June 30, 2018. After that date, the credit increases to 35% of qualified labor and 25% of qualified expenditures. There is no annual cap on the amount of credits that a company can accumulate, there is no minimum requirement of jobs of expenditures, and the legislation has no sunset or end date.

Hecht says that Louisiana and New Orleans have traditionally been dependent on oil and gas, but 10 years ago—right before Katrina hit—a digital media incentive program was developed specifically for video games.

“Over the past 10 years we have focused on diversifying our economy and growing new clusters,” Hecht says. “Our digital media incentive has since been broadened to include all software development, but video games continue to be a focus. We feel our low-cost and high-culture value proposition is perfect for these types of companies. We were recently named the fastest growing market for IT job growth in the country according to Forbes, so our economy continues to shift toward knowledge industries.”

Grady Fitzpatrick, senior vice president of business development at GNO Inc., says Louisiana has been busy building out an educational infrastructure that can support new game studios as they open. Electronic Arts (EA -5.30%)partnered with Louisiana State University to share a new $29 million Digital Arts Center, which houses EA Baton Rouge, the home of EA’s quality assurance testers. In addition, LSU is offering a master’s in digital media arts and engineering for aspiring game developers taught by former EA executive producer Marc Aubanel. Separately, LSU received a $14 million investment from the state over 10 years to triple the number of computer science graduates. This will help IBM staff the 800 positions for its new Baton Rouge complex.

Louisiana has also committed $4.5 million over 10 years to increase the number of computer science graduates at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to help CGI find applicants. And the state is funding $5 million over 10 years to the University of New Orleans for academic programs as part of a deal with GE Capital. Louisiana Tech University has received $14 million over 10 years to increase the number of computer science graduates, which will help CSC.

“New Orleans recognizes that they need white-collar jobs,” Ganofsky says. “Video games are a pretty green industry. It’s a bunch of nerds sitting at desks who make a good wage and like to go out and spend money and have fun. New Orleans is perfect for that.”

Hecht says these recent deals will bring more permanent high-paying jobs to the city. High Voltage will grow to 85 employees and inXile Entertainment will hire 50 people with an average salary of $75,000.

French company Gameloft, which closed its New York City office and moved to New Orleans in 2011, currently has 50 employees and has developed mobile games like Ice Age Village and Cars: Fast as Lightning. Mathias Royer, the Gameloft New Orleans studio general manager, says the plan is to double the size of the studio in the coming years.

“With the recent addition of High Voltage and inXile, we’re getting to a point where more and more companies will have to consider New Orleans as a viable option when opening a new location,” Royer says. “More companies also means easier recruitment, since candidates from outside of Louisiana won’t be relocating just for us.”

Royer says leaving New York was an easy decision because of that state’s lack of incentives. And Louisiana allows Gameloft to operate “way below the cost of the West Coast, and even below a city like Austin.”

10 2015-11-10

Making a splash! University of Louisiana swim team delight tourists with hilarious choreographed stunts on the travelator when their plane is delayed

The bored university swimming team's video has been shared 57,000 times
In it, squad members perform a series of hilarious stunts on travelator
They mimic swimming, rowing and even working out on an exercise bike

By Corey Charlton for MailOnline

Published: 05:59 EST, 10 November 2015 | Updated: 07:38 EST, 10 November 2015


A university swimming team bored senseless during a wait for a flight stumbled upon a hilarious way of amusing themselves at the airport.

In a video uploaded to Facebook of the University of Louisiana Swim and Dive Team, the squad filmed themselves performing a series of hilarious routines on a moving travelator.

The short clip was uploaded by Kelsi Worrell, along with the caption: 'Airport Shenanigans... Whoever said swimmers were weird may have been right.'

Airport Olympics! Swimming team's funny travelator stunts


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The Louisiana swimming team was first filmed sitting in front of one another in an imaginary boat

The Louisiana swimming team was first filmed sitting in front of one another in an imaginary boat

Pretending to row, they move along the travelator mimicking a boat sailing through the water


Pretending to row, they move along the travelator mimicking a boat sailing through the water

The first stunt showed the team sitting down together in a row, pretending to paddle a boat along the travelator.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3311724/Louisiana-university-swimming-team-burn-time-airport-performing-hilarious-stunts-flight-lounge-travelator-plane-delayed.html#ixzz3r5sRAugK
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

10 2015-11-10

Making a splash! University of Louisiana swim team delight tourists with hilarious choreographed stunts on the travelator when their plane is delayed

The bored university swimming team's video has been shared 57,000 times
In it, squad members perform a series of hilarious stunts on travelator
They mimic swimming, rowing and even working out on an exercise bike

By Corey Charlton for MailOnline

Published: 05:59 EST, 10 November 2015 | Updated: 07:38 EST, 10 November 2015


A university swimming team bored senseless during a wait for a flight stumbled upon a hilarious way of amusing themselves at the airport.

In a video uploaded to Facebook of the University of Louisiana Swim and Dive Team, the squad filmed themselves performing a series of hilarious routines on a moving travelator.

The short clip was uploaded by Kelsi Worrell, along with the caption: 'Airport Shenanigans... Whoever said swimmers were weird may have been right.'

Airport Olympics! Swimming team's funny travelator stunts


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The Louisiana swimming team was first filmed sitting in front of one another in an imaginary boat

The Louisiana swimming team was first filmed sitting in front of one another in an imaginary boat

Pretending to row, they move along the travelator mimicking a boat sailing through the water


Pretending to row, they move along the travelator mimicking a boat sailing through the water

The first stunt showed the team sitting down together in a row, pretending to paddle a boat along the travelator.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3311724/Louisiana-university-swimming-team-burn-time-airport-performing-hilarious-stunts-flight-lounge-travelator-plane-delayed.html#ixzz3r5sRAugK
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10 2015-11-09

No progress on censure matter

Work on universities’ relationship with the American Association of University Professors remains on hold as the University of Louisiana System focuses on finances, a spokesperson said.

The AAUP has a censure list for universities that are found to have violated academic freedom and tenure. The UL System has three campuses on the list.

A statement from Catherine Heitman, interim director of communications, says the UL System values the AAUP role in higher education, but the main priority currently is to deal with budget issues with campuses facing multiple funding cuts over the years.

“Our system values the historical role of the AAUP in academia and is always open to meet in an effort to resolve outstanding issues. However, the reality is that our first priority is to prudently manage our institutions within the current fiscal limitations facing higher education in our state. The decisions are seldom easy, but we make them with the good of our students and university in mind,” the statement says.

Heitman said there have been no recent talks between the two institutions on getting Southeastern Louisiana University, Northwestern State University and Nichols State University off the list.

According to Jordan Kurland, associate editor with AAUP who handles censorship cases, the university system has not met with the AAUP in a few years. He said he doubted there would be any progress with removing the universities from the list this year.

“The prospects are not likely to change this year,” he said.

Being on the list make it difficult for universities to attract new professors and get picked to host events, such as talks and conferences, Kurland said.

Southeastern and Northwestern were investigated jointly when the campuses experienced funding cutbacks that led to tenured professors being fired and programs eliminated. AAUP concluded the terminations and eliminations were done improperly by breaking AAUP policies. The two universities have been on the list since April 2012.

At Southeastern, three tenured French professors were terminated and the French and French education degree programs eliminated. Two of the professors later successfully sued the university.

Nichols State University has been on the list since 2009 over a faculty member being dismissed without due process, the AAUP states.

Kurland said universities generally get off the list when the professor who is wrongfully fired is allowed to come back or is given some form of compensation. But it does not always need to involve a money settlement, he said. Colleges could give a statement of regret and show they changed their policies to prevent similar firings. He recalled one case where a university president met with a former faculty member, who was 93, saying he regretted how the professor’s case was handled.

“A case like that is more meaningful to us,” he said.

AAUP holds annual meetings in June when it makes decisions on removing or placing universities and colleges on its censure list, he explained. Of the three universities, Kurland considers Nichols State University the simplest case to fix as it involves one wronged professor, Maureen Watson, who now works for another college, he said.

But progress with Nichols State has slowed, along with other colleges in Louisiana, including LSU. The association wrote a report on LSU’s censure last month. Generally, he said it does not seem much progress will be done for Louisiana colleges on the list.

“It’s not a good year for Louisiana, period,” he said.

10 2015-11-09

Loosen the reins, strengthen higher ed from within

The open House District 45 seat is a rare opportunity for Lafayette to choose its next advocate in the Louisiana Legislature – one who champions its values and works toward a brighter future for all our residents. It’s an important race to watch, and I’m proud to be a candidate for this seat.

At a District 45 forum hosted at UL-Lafayette by the Society of Professional Journalists, we were asked about our plans for our first piece of legislation. I didn’t hesitate to answer – I plan to file a bill giving higher education institutions like UL and South Louisiana Community College more operational autonomy.

It’s no secret that state funding for colleges and universities has been slashed in recent years, but last year’s legislative session was the tipping point for me. Watching our legislature come so close to the edge of a cliff is unacceptable, especially with such a powerful economic driver like UL in our community. But changing how our state funds higher education is just part of the solution.

Our higher education leaders’ hands are tied when it comes to making decisions on how to manage their campus. SLCC Chancellor Dr. Natalie Harder has stated that for every dollar she receives in state funding, she has to send 57 cents back to Baton Rouge in bureaucratic requirements. That includes everything from having to use the state-mandated travel agency instead of cheaper alternatives, to using the state legislative auditor – which this year cost SLCC $60,000 more than last year. The legislature demands that our chancellors and presidents “do more with less,” but we need to give them the freedom to do so.

Now, more than ever, our higher ed community must be flexible and nimble to compete in a competitive educational landscape, to respond to changing needs and economic trends, and to implement new training programs and methods that help give our students the tools they need to seize every opportunity coming their way.

I have a particular passion for opportunity – I believe it’s the antidote to poverty. It’s a value instilled in me by my grandparents – all four of whom were educators, including the late Dr. Louis Coussan who headed UL’s Department of Education. As a legislator, I’ll take steps to strengthen education from early childhood and beyond, so we can keep the opportunity pipeline flowing in Lafayette.

10 2015-08-07

ULM program awarded $1.1 million

The University of Louisiana at Monroe was recently awarded a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The research based grant will be used to fund the TRiO Student Support Services program (SSS) for the next five years.

The SSS program will be located on campus, and is designed to provide support to underrepresented higher education students with the end goal of increasing their retention and graduation rates.

"TRiO SSS programs have a proven history of enhancing student success," said ULM President Dr. Nick J. Bruno. "This grant will enable ULM to provide a program for our students that will allow them to successfully reach their academic goals."

The program will offer a comprehensive set of targeted services and activities including academic tutoring, financial and admissions counseling, summer programs, and student mentoring. These services will help ensure that the 140 selected students will remain in good academic standing and graduate within six years or less.

Dr. Catherine Estis, executive director for TRiO programs at ULM, said, “This is a wonderful program to guarantee that students are well equipped with the skill sets necessary to earn their college degree. We provide the additional support needed to set our students up for success.”

An estimated two million students nationwide have graduated from college with the support of TRiO programs.

The SSS program will begin at ULM on Sept. 1.
10 2015-06-29

New Presidential Candidate Was University Leader Briefly

Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana on Wednesday became the latest candidate to join the race for the Republican presidential nomination. While it is unlikely he'll spend much time talking about this fact, Jindal is the only Republican in the race (or Democrat, for that matter) who has been the president of a university system -- Jindal led the University of Louisiana System from 1999 (taking office at age 28) through 2001.

His appointment was controversial with some faculty members, because he was seen as a politician more than an educator. Known for his strong anti-tax positions, Jindal, who has been governor since 2008, has overseen numerous cuts in higher education spending, and his initial proposals in this year's legislative session (modified at the last minute) would have resulted in massive cuts to public higher education. In 2011, Jindal set off a huge debate in the state when he proposed a study of merging historically black Southern University at New Orleans with the predominantly

10 2015-05-05
Baton Rouge

Bill allowing Louisiana colleges, universities -- not lawmakers -- to set tuition moves on to Senate

10 2015-05-05
Baton Rouge

House panel volleys refundable tax bill; eventually clears committee on second try after behind-the-scenes politicking

The Legislature’s effort to raise enough money to prevent potentially draconian cuts to Louisiana’s colleges and universities continued its rocky path Monday when the House tax panel rejected a measure to eliminate $100 million of business tax breaks only to reverse itself 90 minutes later and narrowly approve taking them away.

It took behind-the-scenes cajoling by House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, and Gov. Bobby Jindal’s chief of staff, Kyle Plotkin, to keep the $100 million measure alive and send it to the House floor for consideration.

State Rep. Bryan Adams, R-Terrytown, the sponsor of House Bill 805, said he was disappointed that it would raise only $100 million per year, not the $450 million as he originally sought.

“But it’s $100 million more than what we had,” Adams said in an interview.

State Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, took an optimistic view of Monday’s events, saying the final favorable vote by the Ways and Means Committee gives the full House yet another tax bill to consider as the Legislature tries to plug a projected budget shortfall of $1.6 billion for next year that threatens state aid to Louisiana’s public colleges and universities and public health care for the poor.

10 2015-05-05
New Orleans

Bobby Jindal inventory tax credit bill is weakened -- won't help as much to close the budget gap

The centerpiece of Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to address the state budget crisis has been altered so significantly that it's likely to only produce a fraction of the revenue it was intended to generate.

Since February, Jindal has been pushing an inventory tax credit rollback as a primary source of funding for closing Louisiana's $1.6 billion budget gap next year. But this proposal only advanced out of the Louisiana Legislature's tax committee after being significantly watered down Monday (May 4.)

Currently, Louisiana businesses have to pay a tax on all of their inventory to local governments and school boards. The state government then reimburses them fully for this expense using the refundable tax credit -- a benefit that costs around $452 million last year.

10 2015-05-05
New Orleans

The centerpiece of Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to address the state budget crisis has been altered so significantly that it's likely to only produce a fr

LSU says it hasn't cut back on class offerings for next fall yet, but may need to resort to scrapping several courses if the Louisiana Legislature doesn't find enough money for higher education next year.

There could be as many as 2,200 courses pulled off the schedule at the flagship university's main campus if LSU and other public universities are asked to sustain an over 80 percent cut to state public funding. In its current posture, the Louisiana state budget would likely result in a loss of over $600 million to Louisiana's higher education system, if no revenue resources are found

10 2015-04-30
Baton Rouge

Bill clears Senate panel, would curb suspensions of youngest public school students

10 2015-02-19

UL System planning budget blitz

UL System planning budget blitz
By Walter Pierce

Martin Hall, UL Lafayette
The board of the University of Louisiana System, which oversees several state universities including UL Lafayette, has begun working on a plan — in the absence of state lawmakers and/or the Jindal administration figuring out a way of softening the blow — to tackle nearly $400 million in projected budget cuts. The plan relies in part on media coverage and a strong show of support for higher education at the state Capitol in May.

According to newly released documents, the system and campus leaders met at the end of January to discuss the scope of cuts the system faces, which includes more than $315 million in base funding and just under $68 million in cuts to programs.

The meeting also reviewed existing system policy for such things as terminating faculty, discontinuing academic programs, furloughing employees and offering incentives to tenured faculty to retire early.

Also among the discussion items was a “legislative strategy” prepared by Rachel Kincaid, the board’s vice president of external affairs, and consultant Paul Rainwater. That legislative strategy includes convincing lawmakers to grant system member universities more autonomy in setting tuition and fees as well as suspending some mandated costs. System President Sandra Woodley also pressed the issue of “unified messaging,” including media coverage and engaging alumni.

A “University of Louisiana System Day” is planned for May 28 at the Capitol — about a month into the spring legislative session — during which the board plans to galvanize a show of support for finding a solution to the budget crisis. Among the ideas batted around for new sources of revenue for the system, leaders discussed suspending for one year and refinancing retirement-system payments, which would save a projected $95 million. The board also discussed pushing for dedicating an increase in the state’s tobacco tax to higher education as well as creating an Internet sales tax devoted to higher ed.

Gov. Bobby Jindal is expected to release his executive budget on Feb. 27, at which time higher-ed officials will have a clearer picture of how deeply the cuts will go.

Locally, UL Lafayette officials are bracing for roughly $20 million in cuts. According to a recent account in The Advertiser, the administration has done little in the way of preparing to absorb the cuts. That, however, doesn't square with what sources told The IND for our February cover story, "We Get What We Vote For," which reported that the administration at Martin Hall has in fact been planning extensively for possible cuts.

Read "We Get What We Vote For" here.
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10 2015-01-14
New Orleans

UL System President Talks About Budget on Garland Robinette Show