The House and Senate each approved legislation Monday to move the University of New Orleans out of the LSU System without a single vote of opposition in either chamber.
The bills — House Bill 537 and Senate Bill 266 — now only need concurrence on amendments before heading to the governor’s desk.
The legislation would move UNO into the University of Louisiana System, where proponents say UNO would be surrounded by more-similar colleges and not be overshadowed by LSU.
But House Speaker Jim Tucker, who sponsors HB537, cast doubt on Louisiana Tech University replacing UNO in the LSU System as has been discussed. Such a transfer could be possible next year after a Board of Regents study.
“I don’t think that is going to happen at the end of the day,” Tucker said of the possibility that Tech would move from the UL System to the LSU System.
Tucker, R-Terrytown, said he thinks Louisiana Tech “is much better off in the UL System.”
State Rep. Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, said some people at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette have asked about the chances of Louisiana Tech moving to the LSU System.
The bills were amended to allow UNO and the UL System to work out any faculty tenure issues. That changed a stricter, previous amendment that would have grandfathered in tenure rules for all UNO faculty.
The faculty at UNO have expressed concerns that the UL System approved rules in February that let colleges lay off faculty, including tenured professors, more quickly and easily during times of budget cuts and academic program eliminations.
The transfer bills allow the private, nonprofit UNO Foundation to purchase insurance covering any possible litigation or other problems from the transfer process.
State Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, said the UNO Foundation is expected to kick in about $250,000.
The state budget bill, House Bill 1, also contains $300,000 to help fund the UNO transfer process.
Tucker said the parties have had numerous conversations about taking care of any funding needs because of the transfer.
State Sen. Karen Peterson, D-New Orleans, expressed concerns about the extra dollars needed to pay for the transfer process “because the systems and the boards are not doing their jobs.”
“I’ve heard the struggles and the frustrations from the people at UNO under the LSU System,” she said.
The legislation originated as a Jindal proposal to merge UNO with Southern University at New Orleans. Once that was defeated in the House, Tucker announced a compromise to morph the bill into a strict UNO transfer.
Tucker is a UNO graduate.