Thursday, September 10, 2009

College panel considers consolidation

As the Tucker commission wrestles with thorny options, consensus seems to be building toward the consolidation of overlapping degree programs in our colleges and universities. Established by the legislature last spring, the commission must report on ways to rein in higher education spending before the next session begins.

As this article by Monroe News-Star reporter Greg Hilburn makes clear, consolidation is not the only remedy under consideration. Speaker of the House Jim Tucker - for whom the commission is named - is quoted in the article as saying the closure of college campuses is possible.

The big problem, of course, is funding. Money for higher education could shrink by 40% over the next couple of years, panel members say. If that happens, they don't believe that across-the-board cuts would be the best way to handle the crisis. So they are planning now to make the deepest cuts in places that would cause the least harm.

Speaking of the overlapping curricula in North Louisiana, Tucker says:
"All five (northeastern Louisiana schools) have nursing programs,"
referring to the University of Louisiana at Monroe, Grambling State University,
Louisiana Tech University, Louisiana Delta Community College and Louisiana
Technical College campuses. "Is that reasonable? I don't know, but it has to be

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