Nicholls State temporary closure just a possibility, not a sure thing, president says _lowres

Nicholls State University file photo (Courtesy of Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University)

The administration of Nicholls State University say they are not set on closing this year, despite reports from news media stating that the institution would have to close for a minimum of two weeks this semester under a best case budget cut scenario.

Nicholls State President Bruce Murphy stated that closing for two weeks was only one scenario submitted.

“Nicholls State University has absolutely no intention of closing unless there is no other option. Nicholls was asked to provide a list of hypothetical scenarios regarding how the campus might handle varying degrees of mid-year budget cuts,” Murphy said in his statement to The Advocate. “Nicholls submitted a financial planning document listing several options that the university is considering. One of those options includes temporarily closing the campus for several days. Obviously, that is the absolute last option that Nicholls would ever take.”

A spokeswoman for the university Stephanie Verdin stressed that closure is just “one of several possibilities” that could happen if happen if higher education is cut at Gov. John Bel Edward’s best case scenario level of about $70 million.

Dan Reneau, the University of Louisiana System president, acknowledged that Nicholls had submitted a potential closure in their budget scenario, but he said that it should be construed as a “financial equivalent” and that it was not a certainty.

In a Senate Committee meeting for higher education Monday, State Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metarie, asked Reneau directly about the wisdom of feeding into media reports that present campus closures as a reality.

Reneau blamed the reports on public budget proposals that were required to be submitted. But he said that some media had misinterpreted the reports.

Appel warned higher education leaders that at some point, fear mongering related to closing schools mid-year would become a “self fulfilling prophecy” with students looking to transfer out of state.