We don’t envy the job of LSU Chancellor Michael Martin in managing budget cuts at the university’s Baton Rouge campus in response to reduced state funding.
In proposing cuts, Martin has made a distinction between the university’s “academic core” and so-called “ancillary units,” such as LSU museums, the LSU Press and the Center for Advanced Microstructures and Devices. LSU’s Louisiana Geological Survey is also being considered for more cuts.
Martin is considering cuts in funding for these ancillary institutions and urging them to develop more outside financial support.
The reductions in state funding for LSU don’t seem to leave Martin with good, painless choices. Martin’s options at this point appear to involve either the bad or the worse. But those who are concerned about LSU’s future — and that should include everyone in Louisiana — need to be aware of the full implication of the cuts that already have been implemented, as well as those still being considered.
We’ve reached a point at which the distinction between the university’s academic core and its so-called ancillary units has become a false one. LSU’s museums, as well as its research facilities, are important venues for both students and faculty to expand their knowledge. When these institutions lack adequate funding, the academic core — the university’s central mission of learning — also is seriously compromised.
The need for cuts — a direct consequence of budget decisions made by Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Legislature — moves LSU and Louisiana in the wrong direction.
The Center for Advanced Microstructures and Devices, or CAMD, which has so long been touted as an incubator for innovation in applied science but never has met its promise, now sits idle much of the time. The LSU Press, which has published books that have won four Pulitzer Prizes, should be applauded for the international distinction it has brought LSU and Louisiana. The same holds true for The Southern Review, LSU’s literary quarterly of global renown. Instead, the modest budgets of these publishing operations have been cut drastically in recent budget cycles, and more cuts are under consideration.
When the state of Louisiana fails to invest in its intellectual capital, no one should be surprised when so many of its best and brightest residents choose to live elsewhere.