University of New Orleans Wants LSU Board’s Permission to Layoff Faculty and Cut Programs
BATON ROUGE, La.
The University of New Orleans wants to declare a financial emergency so it can shed programs and shrink faculty after state spending cuts and a drop in tuition income caused by Hurricane Katrina.
UNO Chancellor Tim Ryan didn’t offer specifics for what departments would be slashed at a recent LSU board of supervisors committee meeting where he said the university wants to declare “financial exigency.”
Financial exigency allows university leaders to brush aside employee contracts, including tenure.
LSU board members can decide whether to allow UNO to make the declaration as soon as March 10, though several members said they will likely not take action until late April.
Ryan says the university needed to act quickly.
“There’s panic on the part of the faculty because we can’t tell what areas will be cut. They all assume they’ll be eliminated,” he says. “They all start sending their résumés out.”
UNO took a $6.4 million hit in the most-recent round of budget cuts. Ryan says it lost another $9 million from fallen enrollment rates in the wake of the storm. The school attracted about 5,600 fewer students this semester, bringing spring enrollment to 11,600.
In the wake of Katrina, Tulane University cut programs and fired hundreds of employees last semester, and Southern University-New Orleans made even more drastic changes in the fall, when it cut more than half of its programs and related faculty.
LSU Agriculture Center chief Bill Richardson says he has similar budget woes and wants the board to let him declare a financial emergency as well.
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