We would like to draw your attention to a possible declaration of financial exigency by the Southern University Board of Supervisors this Friday. We are not financially insolvent. After all, we just gave a quarter-million-dollar contract to Chancellor Jim Llorens and pay increases to some other individuals. The problem is not with the faculty, but with the administration and management side.
The board bylaws describe in detail procedure for ascertaining a bona-fide financial exigency before it can be declared. Because the administration and board did not do preparatory work to ascertain such exigency, the board will be in violation of its own bylaws in declaring a financial exigency Friday. It is said the financial exigency will allow the faculty to be furloughed, which will bring about $1.5 million. This is less than 2 percent of the $77 million budget.
The board certainly has authority to declare financial exigency to collect $1.5 million in faculty furloughs. However, this will be akin to burning down the building to kill a fly.
Know that less than 30 percent of the budget will be spent on faculty salaries in the current academic year. The faculty members produce student credit hours, which in turn fund most of the budget according to formula funding. While our salaries are amongst the lowest in the region, the salaries of the administrators and those having internal connection continue to thrive. The ranks of administrators and staff are replete with individuals who are there because of whom they know, without a proper search and job function. We are certain there is a lot of room to be cut there.
Another area of revenue that has been lost to us is the Bayou Classic, an offshoot of our athletics program, which we are subsidizing by $2.4 million. Though we are cognizant of the usefulness of such investment, we are appalled by the lack of public accountability of revenue received from the Bayou Classic event.
Financial exigency is equivalent to educational bankruptcy. If financial exigency is declared, it will result in substandardized instruction for the students and will seriously impact the local economy due to decline in enrollment.
That will be a great disservice to the students and taxpayers of Louisiana. For illustration, we need look no farther than the University of New Orleans. Its enrollment went down from 17,000 to 10,000 after it declared financial exigency in 2005. Six years later, UNO is still struggling to regain lost ground.
Finally, we ask that the board appoint an independent commission to investigate and audit the SUBR budget. This commission must have representatives from the faculty and from the Board of Regents.
Sudhir Trivedi, president
SU Faculty Senate