Thursday, January 27, 2011

Misplaced optimism

While Gov. Jindal maintains that coming cuts to higher education will be lower than expected - in the 10% range, according to this article by Gannett reporter Mike Hasten - the effects of budget cuts on colleges and universities cannot be trivialized.

LSU Provost Jack Hamilton made that clear in a theatrical gesture at Monday's meeting of the Baton Rouge Press Club, standing next to 140 empty chairs. That's the number of faculty positions lost at the state's flagship university over the past two years.

As The Advocate's editorialist wrote:

The 140 faculty positions lost to the cuts represent more than 10 percent
of the university’s 1,200-member faculty. LSU’s foreign languages programs have been dramatically scaled back, making the campus much less competitive with its peers in the region. The LSU School of Music’s ability to offer scholarships
is also greatly diminished, hampering the school’s ability to attract the best
and the brightest.

More bad news came on Wednesday, when the Board of Regents announced that almost 460 college degree programs across Louisiana are about to be axed because of the budget crunch. Advocate reporter Jordan Blum covered the Regents' meeting for this story.

Yet the governor still refuses to consider any new revenues, maintaining that he is "optimistic that we can keep higher ed cuts below 10%."

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