LSU will avoid faculty and staff layoffs, plus across the board cuts to programs in its budget for the current fiscal year, thanks in part to a $5.5 million assist from the Athletic Department, Chancellor Michael Martin said Friday.
In a phone interview, Martin described putting together a budget in the face of repeated state budget cuts as coming to the realization “that we’re running out of thumbs to put in the dike.”
Additionally, students arriving on campus for the fall semester will have fewer courses to choose from and will continue to find themselves in larger classes, he said.
Students probably will notice changes in certain services that are often taken for granted, including maintenance and certain offices dealing with special needs, Martin added.
“It won’t be overwhelming for students, but those who have been around for a while will see a difference,” Martin said.
The general plan sent by Martin to faculty and staff in a late Friday email is a precursor to a more detailed plan the campus will submit to the LSU Board of Supervisors at its July 27 meeting.
Colleges and universities across the state will be going through similar exercises in the next few weeks as they finalize their plans to cope with a $66 million reduction in state funding handed down by Louisiana legislators in early June as part of the state’s $26.5 billion operating budget.
The budget cut is the fifth significant cut to Louisiana’s higher education institutions since 2008, as the state has slashed college and university funding by more than $420 million, or 26 percent, in that time period. Some universities have offset some of the losses with tuition increases.
Of the $66 million cut for the fiscal year that started July 1, the LSU System lost more than $28 million in state funding.
LSU’s Baton Rouge campus will have to absorb nearly $19 million in budget cuts, according to a compilation from the Louisiana Board of Regents, the state’s top higher education board.
In his message to LSU employees, Martin said the cuts are necessary as the university copes with budget reductions plus higher costs associated with mandates and financial aid.
In his email, Martin said the plan is to use a combination of cuts to administrative and program support units, realignments and the development of new revenues, while protecting “the academic core of the university.”
Martin did not give a detailed breakdown of the cutbacks in his email, but assured employees there would be no layoffs.
The preliminary plan says:
The remaining $4 million in Athletic Department funds will also go to “protect the academic core,” Martin wrote.
LSU System President William Jenkins reached in Dallas on Friday said he expects LSU’s different campuses to present more detailed looks at how they will cope with the budget cuts next week.
Jenkins also lauded the Athletic Department for their contribution.
“That is a very big deal,” Jenkins said.
The Athletic Department stepped up last year also when it took over the funding for the positions in the Cox Academic Center for Student Athletes.
At the time, the university explained the move as a way to avoid layoffs.
The LSU Athletic Department’s budget has surged by more than 300 percent in just the past decade during which the football team found itself in three BCS National Championship games.
In a statement Friday, LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva played up the unique relationship the department has in the overall mission of the university.
“Only a handful of athletic departments in the nation operate using no state tax dollars and no student fees, but to be able to make a contribution of this magnitude is unique and a real credit to LSU’s fans and alumni who support the Tigers.”
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