Questions & Answers
How has LSU been hurt so far by budget cuts?
Since January 2009, LSU’s state appropriations have been cut by more than $92 million, resulting in the elimination of programs and services and the loss of 10 percent of LSU's faculty.
Why haven’t students seen any impact from budget cuts?
LSU has done all it can to protect students and the academic core of the university from these budget cuts. But the cuts have now come to a point where even students have begun to feel the effects.
For example, 14 faculty members in the foreign language department have been given notice that their contracts will not be renewed after this semester, and instruction in Swahili, Portuguese, Russian and Japanese will no longer be available to students. In addition, degree programs in German and Latin have been eliminated. Previous budget cuts have resulted in the loss of 140 faculty positions*, which means there are 140 faculty members who are not in classrooms teaching students. Fewer faculty means larger classes for students, or students not getting the courses they need in a timely manner. This could result in students taking longer to graduate, which could impact their TOPS awards.
Is it likely that programs, schools or colleges will be consolidated or eliminated?
If LSU really does receive additional large cuts, then yes, LSU will be forced to make some changes to the academic core. There simply won’t be enough money to continue on as the university has been.
Which degree programs will be eliminated?
LSU has made no definite decisions at this time, but will give a careful look at every program and consider factors such as student enrollment in the program, cost to LSU per student in the program, whether the same degree is offered at another institution in Louisiana, and other criteria, following guidelines promulgated by the Chancellor following discussions with the Right Sizing Committee. The guidelines include:
- Significance with respect to the production of an educated, cultivated citizenry
- Comparative advantage with respect to state, peer, competitor, model, or aspirational institutions
- Impact on Louisiana social, cultural, intellectual, environmental, or economic well-being
- Strength or potential strength with respect to performance, national reputation, and the meeting of national and local needs
- Effect on, relevance to, or cooperation with other LSU programs
- Current or potential student demand and effective use of teaching resources, with special attention to placement after graduation and lifelong learning
- Effect on the overall University budget
- Feasibility of and time required for (a) improvement or (b) phasing out
When will faculty and staff know if their positions will be eliminated?
LSU has done its best to keep faculty and staff – as well as students – fully informed about the budget situation. Since January 2009, LSU has alerted them to the issues via broadcast e-mail, the LSU Web site, LSU Today, through the local media, and through faculty forums. The university has tried to let faculty and staff know each time there was new information, but currently, LSU is waiting for new information from the state.
LSU has given notices of non-reappointment to non-tenured faculty members whose contracts require 12 months’ notice, and recently had to extend some of those notices. University officials understand this is an extremely stressful situation for these faculty members; however, the university must do all it can now to prepare for the budget cuts that it will likely face next fiscal year. Other employees do not require 12 months’ notice of non-renewal, so LSU officials will wait to alert those employees until they have a better idea of what kinds of cuts the university will actually be facing. However, LSU will try to also give those employees as much notice as possible in the event that they may be laid off.
Why is LSU still renovating and constructing buildings on campus?
Construction and renovation funds are typically provided by the state Legislature, by private donors, or through student fees and must be used strictly for that purpose alone. Those funds cannot be directed away from buildings and cannot be used to cover other costs. (Often, it takes as many as 10 years for these projects to get fully funded, so buildings being built or renovated now may have been in the works for a decade.) Therefore, funds being used for new buildings or renovations to existing buildings cannot be used to cover budget shortfalls, to fund university programs, to support scholarships, to prevent layoffs, etc.
Does the Athletic Department use up money that could be spent on academics?
No. The LSU Athletic Department is a self-sustaining auxiliary unit of the university that raises its own funds. It does not use any state tax dollars or any student fees. Therefore, budget issues for the university do not necessarily mean budget problems for the Athletic Department. It is worth noting, however, that LSU’s Athletic Department donates millions of dollars to the university each year, and the Athletic Department has been assigned some of the university’s costs if this next round of budget cuts take place. So, the Athletic Department is assisting the university with its budget problems, and the university would be much worse off financially if not for Athletics.
Will the tuition increases/LA Grad Act prevent LSU from actually having to make these cuts?
No. Although the LA Grad Act allows LSU to increase tuition by 10 percent annually until it reaches the average of its peers (IF LSU meets certain performance criteria), those increases will not bring in enough revenue to offset a budget cut of this magnitude. Remember that LSU has already undergone $45 million in cuts since January 2009, and was responsible for covering more than $13 million in unfunded mandate costs, which also left a hole in the budget. Tuition increases help, but will not offset these kinds of budget cuts.
What are “unfunded mandates?”
Unfunded mandates are costs that LSU is required by law to cover, such as contributions to employee retirement funds and rising employee and graduate student health care costs. The state of the national economy only exacerbates these costs for LSU. Unfunded mandates are just a normal cost of doing business, but they nonetheless come from LSU’s budget.
Where is all the money raised by the Forever LSU campaign?
While the Forever LSU campaign has been very successful, and will likely meet its goal of raising $750 million by the end of 2010, those funds don’t help with the budget crisis. Most of the Forever LSU funds have already been spent, have been designated by donors for a specific purpose, or are not “cash” donations. Often, donors pledge money or property to the university in their wills, or donate in the form of stocks or other non-cash options. While those pledges are counted in the campaign, they do not bring cash into the university right away.
How does all this affect the Flagship Agenda?
LSU is still Louisiana’s flagship university, but these budget cuts definitely hinder the Flagship Agenda, which is LSU’s plan for national excellence. For example, the Flagship Agenda called for the addition of 150 faculty; but, these budget cuts have resulted in the loss of more than 140 faculty positions* already. However, LSU has been ranked as a top-tier university for the past three years, and will do all it can to maintain that status, in spite of being handcuffed by budget cuts.
Do budget cuts put LSU’s top-tier status at risk?
Yes. Some of the things that help determine top-tier status include: spending per student, faculty-student ratio, quality of faculty, and peer assessment. Budget cuts put all these things in jeopardy. The Chancellor and the Budget Committee are working to find ways to meet these cuts without doing irreparable harm to the university. That is why the goal is to narrow LSU’s focus, and keep the programs that will still lead LSU to excellence.
Who comprises the BCC?
The BCC is composed of faculty members and administrators who have a broad knowledge of the campus and all its units and programs. Included on the committee are: the president of the Faculty Senate, two Boyd Professors, two Alumni Professors, and representatives of Academic Affairs and Finance and Administrative Services. The committee is chaired by the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor. The list of committee members can be found at http://www.lsu.edu/FY12BudgetCrisis/committee.shtml.
What can I do to help?
State law prohibits LSU and its employees from calling others to action. University employees are not allowed to ask the public to call or write to their Legislators or the Governor. Therefore, LSU is relying on alumni and friends of the university to take action. Those interested can go to www.flagshipfriends.org to find out more information on how they can help.