Southern University System President Ray Belton addressed the Jaguar extended community this evening with a letter, countering reports made earlier this week that the system was under threat of closure due to potential budget cuts.
Dr. Belton’s letter, the second to Southern students, alumni and stakeholder in the last three days, was a lighter version of earlier concerns over legislative budget cuts which may reduce system operating funds by more than $8 million, or nearly six percent of the state’s mid-year budget shortfall. From Tuesday’s letter:
“The reality of how we translate the impact of such a reduction to our state general fund budget is truly unimaginable. It would, in a word, be devastating. Our entire enterprise would be vulnerable. Honestly, we need all that remains in our coffers to operate through June 30 to maintain a level of quality and effectiveness.”
The Southern System cuts are part of a potential $131 million reduction to higher education in Louisiana, and more than doubles Southern’s proposed $4 million budget reduction plan. From NOLA.com:
That cut to higher education is large enough to fundamentally alter how colleges and universities operate in the state. To put that figure in perspective, the entire Southern University system only receives –- through federal money, state allocations and tuition — $129.5 million annually. In other words, (Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Jay) Dardenne is asking for Louisiana’s colleges and universities to prepare to cut a piece of higher education’s funding that is equivalent to cutting the entire Southern University system. And they would have just a few months to do it.