On Jan. 22, 2009, I wrote to the editor of The Advocate and my letter was published. It was based on remarks by the new president of the LSU System, John Lombardi. I felt that he was taking the school in the wrong direction.
On Oct. 29, 2009, I wrote to the editor, not published, of my concerns that Lombardi was adding four members of the prior governor’s administration at more than $100,000 per position while lecturing the Louisiana Post Secondary Education Review Commission on the need to add means testing to the TOPS program.
I also pointed out that there was in one department alone one faculty member per 3.6 students, and this did not include administrative staff.
In this letter, I will point out that a July 16 article by your reporter Jordan Blum pointed out that freshman applications to LSU have dipped nearly 20 percent from last year. In that article no less than five presidents, chancellors, chiefs of staff, executive vice president and provosts, and an associate vice president for communications gave various excuses for the drop in admissions.
Lombardi said that LSU is “closer to being privatized” than ever, and his hire, Chancellor Mike Martin, said the projected operating budget is down by nearly $300,000 from last year’s budget: $443 million.
By my calculation that means, in this economy, that the school is having trouble coping with a total budget cut of 0.67 percent. This is a big spending problem.
The problem, voiced by Mr. Herb Vincent, LSU associate vice chancellor for communications, “does not account for the millions more of dollars that LSU will have to spend on unfunded mandates like employee retirement and benefits cost hikes, hardship waivers for financially struggling students, other tuition exemptions and more.” Do you not think that the drop in freshman admissions could be linked to the increased tuition costs in these times?
Lombardi’s initial remark concerned me: The number of shiny, new cars in the student parking lots indicated that tuition was too low.
Do you think he will use the same powers of observation to say that the number of empty student parking spots indicates that tuition was too high?