A Message from the President
October 1, 2010 - Budget Update to Faculty and Staff
As everyone is aware from prior campus communications, the current operating budgets of many institutions of higher education, including Southeastern, are supported in part by Federal stimulus funds which will no longer be available beyond the current fiscal year that ends June 30, 2011. This factor, in conjunction with projected shortfalls in the State's budget, leads us to believe the 2011-12 fiscal year will be very challenging for higher education in Louisiana.
As has been explained in prior campus communications, our university has absorbed cumulative budget reductions over the past twenty-one months totaling nearly $16 million. In addition, our current fiscal year operating budget includes $16.3 million in Federal stimulus funds. As Federal stimulus funds expire, and unless the State is able and willing to replace these funds from other sources, the budget reduction we would be asked to absorb next fiscal year could effectively double what we have absorbed to date.
As a result, the Division of Administration recently asked State agencies, including higher education, to begin preparing budget planning scenarios based on an assumed worst-case 35% reduction in State funds for the 2011-12 fiscal year. You may have read recent news reports about the potential impact on programs and students at Louisiana State University related to this budget "exercise."
For this planning exercise, Southeastern’s estimated reduction is $19.8 million. We are currently working with the University of Louisiana System office to explain the potential impact of a budget reduction of this magnitude. Our projected impact report will be combined with those from other universities within the System prior to being shared with the Division of Administration.
In anticipation of potential additional reductions, we have been further analyzing University operations, costs and structure. Even more importantly, we have been working diligently to ensure Southeastern's ability to secure additional tuition revenue via participation in the GRAD Act. If you have not reviewed my last campus update regarding the GRAD Act, I strongly encourage you to review it at A Message from the President.
Given the magnitude of these potential reductions and related news reports, I certainly understand the anxiety felt by our faculty, staff and students over uncertainty regarding next year's budget. As has been the case in dealing with prior budget issues, I believe it is important to provide straightforward and honest information about the budget and related issues.
As was explained in the prior communication referenced above, I believe our ability to increase tuition over the next several years via the GRAD Act is critically important to the future viability of our institution. Accordingly, it is essential that units align their activities with the performance expectations of the GRAD Act.
To ensure the broadest institutional understanding and engagement on this matter, I will be scheduling a number of meetings with various groups around campus to provide more detailed information, answer questions and receive input. These meetings will provide an opportunity for every faculty and staff member to discuss with me and members of the administration, on a first-hand basis, issues related to the budget and the GRAD Act.
While recent developments and information about the budget for next fiscal year are certainly reasons for concern, we must remember it is still very early in the budget process. As I have done in the past, I will continue to update the campus as new information is available.
Finally, I want to remind our faculty and staff that the most important thing going forward is to remain focused on serving our students. Our fate is inextricably tied to their success.