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.”