Southern University declares a financial emergency

The Southern University Board of Supervisors declared a financial emergency on the main campus Friday on a 14-0, with two members absent, vote after months of debating the issue.
The declaration of the emergency, called financial exigency, was made despite opposition from some faculty, students and alumni.
Southern Chancellor James Llorens and Southern University System President Ronald Mason Jr. made the exigency request a late addition to the meeting agenda.
They did so under the argument that staff layoffs did not save as much money as expected and that a voluntary faculty furlough plan ended up as a mess. They said exigency is needed to address recurring money problems and more quickly reorganize the university for the future.
In September, the Southern Board fell three votes shy of approving exigency, but four of the 16 Board members were absent at the time.
Declaring exigency allows the administration more leeway to lay off tenured faculty and ax academic programs.
Exigency is historically considered a serious blemish that could scare away current and potential employees and students. No public Louisiana university had declared exigency since the University of New Orleans did so after Hurricane Katrina.

Southern to seek exigency again

The Southern University Board of Supervisors will again consider declaring a financial emergency Friday for the main Baton Rouge campus.
Southern Chancellor James Llorens and Southern University System President Ronald Mason Jr. made the request to declare the emergency, called financial exigency, a late addi-tion to the meeting agenda.
They did so under the argument that staff layoffs did not save as much money as ex-pected and that a voluntary faculty furlough plan ended up as a mess.
They argued exigency is needed to stop recurring money problems and more quickly reorganize the university for the future.
“It’s all about the ability to strategically restructure the budget as a way to stop the downward spiral and start back on a positive track,” Mason said in an interview.
The university has suffered through state budget cuts and significant student enrollment losses the past few years.
In September, the Southern Board fell three votes shy of approving exigency, but four of the 16 Board members were absent at the time.
Lots of faculty, students and alumni spoke out against declaring exigency at the time.
Declaring exigency would al-low the administration more leeway to lay off tenured fac-ulty and ax academic pro-grams.
Exigency is historically con-sidered a serious blemish that could scare away current and potential employees and stu-dents. No public Louisiana university has declared exigency since the University of New Orleans did so after Hurricane Katrina.
Mason said he does not know if the Southern Board will ap-prove the exigency request.
“It is a highly emotional issue,” he said. “It is an extraor-dinary step. It is a tough call to make, but it is a necessary step.”

 

BRCC chancellor candidates announced

Candidates for the Baton Rouge Community College chancellor position include the former Eatel president and the chancellors of SOWELA Technical Community College in Lake Charles and Louisiana Delta Community College in Monroe.
The Louisiana Community and Technical College System publicly announced eight candidates for the job on Thursday, three days after The Advocate filed a public records request. The application deadline was Oct. 5.
A BRCC search committee is expected to be named next week. LCTCS President Joe May will conduct some private interviews and the search committee will start publicly interviewing finalists in November, according to the announcement.
The eight current candidates, in alphabetical order, are:

  •   Walter Asonevich, president of Pennsylvania Highlands Community College.
  •   Robert Burgess, retired former president and chief operating officer of Eatel Louisiana. He lives in Prairieville.
  •   Andrea Lewis Miller, chancellor of SOWELA Technical Community College in Lake Charles.
  •   Robert Miller, vice president for the Golden Triangle Campus and district operations at East Mississippi Community College.

 

  •   Luke Robins, chancellor of Louisiana Delta Community College in Monroe.
  •   George Santiago, president of Briarcliff College in New York.
  •   Evon Walters, executive dean and campus CEO of Suffolk County Community College in New York.
  •   Mary Wyatt, associate director and teacher educator at Savannah State University in Georgia.

May has said the goal is to hire a new BRCC chancellor in December, although the time-line is tentative.
In July, interim BRCC Chan-cellor Jim Horton took over the job from Myrtle Dorsey, who left BRCC to become the new chancellor of St. Louis Community College.
Horton retired at the end of June as the president of Yavapai College in northern Arizona. He vowed not to seek the job beyond the interim.

Nearly half of Louisiana schools score “D” or “F”

Forty-four percent of public schools in Louisiana got a “D” or an “F” in the first round of letter grades for schools, a member of the state’s top school board said today.
Chas Roemer, a member of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, made the comment during a press conference in New Orleans to announce the results.
Roemer, who is running for a second term on BESE, called those results unacceptable.
“While there are successes and growth, the growth is too slow and the success is too far in between,” he said.
“Today should be a call to action,” Roemer said of low-scoring schools.
The Zachary Community School District is the only one in the state that landed an “A,” said Ollie Tyler, acting state superintendent of education.
Tyler also praised the marks for the Ascension, West Feliciana, Central and Livingston school systems.
Department spokeswoman Rene Greer said a press release spelling out details of the results would be released about 15 minutes after the press conference.
The state Department of Education planned to release letter grades for all of the state’s nearly 1,300 public schools and school districts as well.
The grades stem from a 2010 state law aimed at helping parents and other taxpayers to better understand how public schools are performing.
Under the previous rules, schools were given labels and stars linked to their annual school performance scores, which focus mostly on how students fared on key tests.
But critics said few understood the stars and labels.
The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, or BESE, approved a grading scale for schools and school districts in December.
Numerous superintendents, principals and other school leaders have been anxious about the issuance of the grades for months amid concerns that they will trigger a firestorm of criticism.
Backers have praised the grades for adding transparency to Louisiana’s public education system.
Critics have labeled the grading scale as too rigorous and said the results will unfairly stigmatize some schools and school districts.