June 20, 2012
A message to ULM faculty and staff from ULM President Nick J. Bruno
As you know, the 2012 Legislative session concluded on June 4. For ULM and higher education, the session proved to be both challenging as well as rewarding.
We were successful with the assistance of our Northeast delegation to include ULM in SB290, allowing us to become a member of LUMCON, Louisiana’s Coastal Research Consortium. This is a very significant action and will provide ULM’s faculty and students the opportunity to participate in vital research. Our Biology, Atmospheric Sciences and Toxicology areas will be afforded opportunities which have not been available in the past.
The continuing decline in Louisiana’s revenues required our legislators to continue to trim the state budget in order for it to remain balanced (expenses must equal expected revenues). As you may recall, at one point ULM could have been reduced $10-$12 million dollars for next fiscal year. Legislators, despite significant opposition, successfully used “one-time” money to mitigate some of these reductions.
However, we have been informed that for this current year (2011-12) we will be required to cut an additional $911,000. Fortunately, we had frozen procurement and positions which have become vacant since our last reduction. Had this reduction not occurred, we would have been allowed to use those savings toward minimizing next year’s reductions.
At this time, it appears we will be required to reduce our 2012-13 budget by another $4.3 million. Please keep in mind that this amount has already factored in the tuition increases we have been granted.
I met earlier with the deans and vice presidents to outline guidelines that should be followed as we prepare to meet these reductions. With these latest reductions ULM’s state funds have been reduced from $54 million during fiscal year 2008-09 to $30 million expected for 2012-13.
I continue to work with the UL-System to express my concerns related to the significant impact these cumulative reductions are having on our institution. I also have expressed concerns that funding for ULM should be equitable compared to other institutions of higher education.
Guidelines presented to the vice presidents and deans as they explore these additional reductions are:
- Decisions are to be made that places the present and future of ULM first
- Minimize impact on employees
- Minimize impact on students
- Continued support of programs critical to our region
- Maximize teaching from full-time faculty
- Retrenchment—we can no longer operate as we did when we had more financial resources.
Unfortunately, these additional reductions will continue to negatively impact personnel. We will not fill positions where possible to minimize the impact to currently filled positions. The extent to which we are required to eliminate additional positions is uncertain at this time, but within the next three to four weeks, this issue will be finalized.
The Deans will begin to discuss their respective plans within their colleges shortly, so look for information from them about how your input can be made. Once feedback is received a plan for the entire campus will be prepared. This plan will not only address fiscal year 2012-13, but also 2013-14 in order that appropriate notices can be made in a timely manner. This plan will be distributed throughout the campus.
This is a very difficult time for higher education in Louisiana; however, our actions will be made in order to not only preserve ULM but to position it for growth once the economic fortunes of the state improve. I continue to be positive about ULM’s future as a great institution.
Beyond our discussions of budget, I want to take a moment to thank all of our faculty and staff who have worked long, hot hours following the fire in Walker Hall. This has adversely affected many employees across campus, but all of you have responded in such an outstanding way. I want to extend my sincere thanks to each one of you for all you have done during this crisis.
I appreciate all of your efforts and contributions to ULM.
Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.