Faculty and staff furloughs, layoffs and new student fees are some of the measures Southern University will use to offset a nearly $10 million budget hole, university officials said Friday.
New Southern Chancellor James Llorens also said efforts are ongoing to “restructure” the university’s academic offerings in order to stabilize the university for the future.
Declaring a financial emergency, called exigency, is a last resort, he said, and the “intent” is to avoid it.
“We’re going to have to redesign this university,” Llorens said, “redesign the academic offerings … and we’re going to have to do it quickly.”
He later added, “We do know there are going to be furloughs; we do know there are going to be layoffs.”
Southern Faculty Senate President Sudhir Trivedi said the faculty members are willing to accept furloughs — time off without pay — of “up to 10 percent” of their pay to help offset the cuts and in order to avoid larger faculty layoffs.
“We will not allow anyone to use this financial crisis as a tool to assault the faculty,” Trivedi said.
Southern has had layoffs and furloughs for two years, but the furloughs have not yet applied to tenured and tenure-track faculty.
Southern Student Government Association President Demetrius Sumner, who also sits on the Southern Board of Supervisors, said the university is planning to increase its student athletics fees. In addition, he said there is a proposal in the works to implement a new “university excellence fee,” which would require student approval.
The amounts of the fees are still being decided, Sumner said. He said they should have “expiration dates.” The current athletics fee is $446 a year.
“We recognize that students have to rise to the challenge of meeting the basic needs of the university,” Sumner said, calling Southern a “bargain.”
Fee increases would come on top of a 10 percent tuition hike going into effect this fall.
Annual tuition and fees for an in-state, Southern undergraduate last year were more than $4,580. This fall, the cost will rise to more than $5,040, not counting any fee hikes.
Southern is in its third year of state budget cuts and the university has been impacted by budget problems more than most colleges because Southern also has lost revenues from its declining enrollment.
A university that once had more than 10,000 students, now enrolls more than 7,300 students.
The university budget is slated for final approval at the Aug. 26 Southern University System Board meeting in Shreveport.
Llorens summarized most of the budget issues:
• $2.6 million cut in state general fund dollars.
• $2.3 million in new “unfunded mandate” expenses like increased retirement and benefits costs.
• An extra $1 million subsidy to the struggling athletic department.
• Nearly $1 million in rising utility costs.
• $1.6 million less in revenues from additional enrollment losses.
Llorens said they are making fixes to close all but about $900,000 in the budget hole.
“The key is furloughs for faculty,” Llorens said. “There is no way we can reach this budget without that.”
Southern Board member Tony Clayton, of Port Allen, said he expects to see administrative reductions on the main Southern campus and within the Southern University System office.
“I’d like to see the cuts you guys are taking before we go touch the faculty,” Clayton told Llorens and Southern System President Ronald Mason Jr. at Friday’s board meeting.