University of Louisiana System prepares for major cuts, McNeese - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

University of Louisiana System prepares for major cuts, McNeese included

The tough economic times are hitting close to home again, as McNeese State University braces for another round of big budget cuts.

The dollar amount for the entire University of Louisiana System is over $55 million. The money is coming out of McNeese's operating budget, but officials with the university say lay-offs are not a concern right now and will come as a last resort.

But McNeese will be hit with a significant loss.

"Four point seven million dollars or about 7.2 percent less than where we started a year ago," said Director of Public Relations Candace Townsend.

That's the amount cut from McNeese's budget for the coming year, all part of the millions being cut from the University of Louisiana system.

"Fortunately, I guess you could say that it's not more than it is, but it's still a significant amount of money," said Townsend.

This over four million dollar cut is after a ten percent tuition increase is factored in, and the university is already planning for more cuts mid-year.

"The way we're going to face this cut is through attrition, or that is not hiring personnel," said Townsend. "The largest part of our budget is in faculty and staff, the cost of salaries and benefits."

Townsend said enrollment will play a large factor in the budget. They are hoping for another year of just under nine thousand students, and for those students the cuts will be obvious.

"Students are going to see larger classes, and students may have some classes that they find aren't offered as frequently," said Townsend. "We're just going to have to do some things like that until we can get through this."

Even with larger classrooms Townsend said students will remain the priority.

"Our major concern, and our primary thing will be to make sure to not impact classroom instruction," said Townsend.

Right now, there are no plans to shut down any academic or non-academic programs. Consolidation is key, Townsend says. She says McNeese will follow their motto as they charge ahead.

"Our motto is excellence with a personal touch," said Townsend. "We saw it after hurricane Rita. We still have a core group of people who were here then. We will pull together, and we will all do what we have to do. People will be helping each other with jobs. We may consolidate. We may reorganize. We may take portions of a job a person was doing and divide it up between two or three people. We'll get through this."

McNeese also has over $60 million worth of construction projects currently taking place on campus. Townsend says these projects are not funded from the same budget, and none of that money can be transferred to the operation budget.

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