Higher education in Louisiana faces more cuts - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Higher education in Louisiana faces more cuts

By Adam Hooper - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - $77.3-million, is how much the University of Louisiana System has had to cut from their budget over the past two years. For McNeese, that meant a cut of $7.6-million. That funding will not be restored in the upcoming fiscal year, and universities do not know what the new budget will look like. But, it is the year after that, could be even worse. During the 2011-2012 fiscal year federal stimulus money is expected to run out. The U.L. System could be cut by as much as $94-million, bring the grand deficit total to $172-million.

"It portrays the difficult decisions in front of us, if there is not any relief provided for us, either through tuition, or other ways," said Dr. Randy Moffett, President of the University of Louisiana System.

"We could survive, but we would not be the university we are now. The impact would be catastrophic," said Dr. Robert Hebert, President Of McNeese State University.

President Hebert said this could set higher education in Louisiana back by as much as twenty-years. While President Hebert will retire at the end of the month, he said he plans to stay involved. 

"I can only guess if they will welcome it, but I do have some experience, and McNeese means a lot to me, and it always will. I am perfectly willing to assist, but I'm not going to be in the way," said President Hebert.

Dr. Phillip Williams will soon take the reigns. He said he is ready for the challenge, and like his predecessor, protecting core curriculum and staff will be of utmost importance.

"People are what makes this university great. We are going to do whatever we can to protect them," said Dr. Philip Williams, incoming MSU President.

Dr. Williams said expanding online courses could help bring in more revenue.

"What you'll see here is, we will probably expand online education as a way of reaching people that we have not already reached," said Dr. Williams.

The possibility of such a big cut in funding rests in the hands of the state legislature.

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