Recent cuts tackled in advance

November 4, 2010

by Amber Guyotte, Staff Reporter

While other Louisiana colleges and universities are making major budget adjustments, a noticeable interruption of Tech’s university services has been avoided thanks to preparedness and efforts of its faculty and staff.

Gov. Bobby Jindal announced a higher education budget cut Oct. 22 resulting from a deficit of $106.7 million in the state’s budget from last year. Higher education’s portion of the cut consists of $34.7 million to help account for last year’s lack of estimated income. 

Tech President Dan Reneau said Tech’s budget reduction totaled $642,809, but the university was prepared for a cut.

“When we put our budget together this year, we held certain monies back and didn’t allow them to be spent in anticipation they would be needed,” Reneau said. “We were able to use that money to meet this particular cut without disrupting anyone’s operation they began at the beginning of the year. A lot of nights and days of work were spent to try to minimize the effect on the classrooms at this stage.” 

He said the present budget reduction does not change the university’s current status, but it could be affected in the future.

“It doesn’t affect the day-to-day operation at this point as we are operating, but it does limit the future potential of the university,” Reneau said. “The state is telling us that on July 1, 2011, our budget will be reduced substantially more than it has been in the past because all the federal stimulus money disappears at that time. The federal stimulus money has been used for two years in Louisiana to prop up Louisiana’s budget, and Tech’s share of that is $13 million.”

Reneau also said students should not worry about a difference in the quality of their education because the current situation was planned for in advance.

Les Guice, vice president for research and development, said the university is working through this time of uncertainty that limits future research possibilities.

“Our faculty are working very hard and picking up extra loads to help us get through these difficult times,” Guice said. “We all recognize this and are grateful that they are helping to keep the institution on a positive trajectory, but carrying higher teaching loads and other responsibilities limits our faculty’s ability to manage their research programs and pursue new grants for the future. The research plays an important role in advancing our academic programs by providing students with learning experiences in cutting-edge areas.”

Jim King, vice president for student affairs, said keeping university services going is a priority to help students.

“We’re going to attempt to keep our services strong so that we can assist students in accomplishing their academic goals,” King said. “We try to work across divisional or departmental lines to keep our classroom experience and our university experience strong. We had to consolidate and collaborate in an effort to keep these service areas strong and functioning. I don’t think students have felt the impact of the cut. We’ve done that by working together and maintaining our strong commitment and priorities.”

Guice said the university will continue in its endeavor to support the people within the institution.

“We do know that our people—our faculty, staff and students—are our strength and we will use every means possible to protect them,” he said. “Some very difficult decisions will undoubtedly be required. We know where Tech needs to be in the future, and it is imperative that we continue to move the institution forward regardless of the obstacles we face. We owe that to our stakeholders who invest their time and resources into the university.”

E-mail comments to ang017@latech.edu.