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President Nick J. Bruno

2011 Dear Colleagues E-mails

December 28, 2011
Mid-Year Budget Reductions

A message to ULM faculty and staff from ULM President Nick J. Bruno

Dear Colleagues,

 On Friday, December 16, 2011, we were informed by the University of Louisiana System staff of a mid-year budget reduction totaling $1,823,870 to our 2011-12 budget.  This represents a 5.108% reduction to our state funds for this fiscal year.

This reduction was the result of the continuing impact of the current depressed economic conditions which we have experienced over the last several years. 

This projection was made on Wednesday, December 13, 2011 by the state’s Revenue Estimating Committee.  OnFriday, December 16, 2011, a reduction plan was presented to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget.

Due to the deadline, December 27, 2011, for submittal required by the impacted agencies, including higher education, I convened the vice presidents, the chief business officer, and the budget director to formulate a plan to address our reduction.

During this meeting, our goal was to minimize the impact to the University of Louisiana at Monroe’s mission.  Careful review was made of the entire remaining budget, and each scenario’s impact was assessed on the remainder of the fiscal year.

All unexpended and unencumbered funds for the entire university were evaluated in our deliberations.  While no budget reduction results in a positive impact on an institution of higher education, the following plan minimizes the impact to all of our essential services. 

We will continue to seek strategic partnerships with other agencies/institutions as well as work with our legislators, community, business partners and alumni, to move ULM forward. 

Following is the plan to meet the required reduction:
(Please note that all amounts listed below have been rounded.)

As an institution, we have dealt with many challenges over the last several years. I recognize the sacrifices you have made while remaining committed to this great university.

I continue to be optimistic that we will, through our collective efforts, move forward in a strategic manner and position this university for growth when our state recovers from its current economic challenges. 

I will provide to you, during University Week, a more detailed report on this current matter.

 

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

December 9, 2011
2011 Accomplishments

A message to ULM faculty and staff from ULM President Nick J. Bruno

Dear Colleagues,

As we approach the end of 2011, it is truly inspiring to reflect on the accomplishments of our university’s faculty, staff and students.

Your efforts continue to demonstrate the University of Louisiana at Monroe’s quality and have made it easy for us to progress in uncovering for others the secret gem located in Monroe.

I wanted to share with you a list of some achievements that I found to be especially significant in advancing the knowledge of ULM’s reputation to our various constituents. The list below is by no means complete, but it reveals why I am proud of your accomplishments.

Progressive Partnerships

Academic Accolades

Economic Engine

Top Technology



As I speak to many of you around campus, I eagerly anticipate the achievements we will celebrate in 2012

Our institution has talented and dedicated faculty, staff and students who share a positive attitude about this amazing university. I appreciate your continued dedication. Please be assured it is not going unnoticed.

Linda, Christina and I thank all of you for making our first year so rewarding and welcoming us so warmly to ULM and to the community.

We are happy to be here and look forward to working with all of you who share our love for this institution.

 

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

September 9, 2011
ULM Reorganizational Update

A message to ULM faculty and staff from ULM President Nick J. Bruno

Dear Colleagues,

On July 7, 2011, you were informed of the organizational changes which were being submitted to the Board of Supervisors for approval.  Those changes were approved with the 2011-12 budget at the August board meeting.  I wish to update you on the status of the transition to the new structure. 

Over my first 10 months, I have found that all of our employees are eager to move ULM forward.  I am committed to supporting ULM’s employees in that effort.

Mrs. Diane Singletary has been promoted to the position of Chief Business Officer which was approved at the August Board of Supervisors meeting.  As you know, Mrs. Singletary has been ULM’s controller since 2004.  Her office will be Suite 623 in the Library.

Mrs. Sarah Nicole Walker who has served as Associate Controller since 2005 is being promoted to Controller.  The Associate Controller’s position which Nicole is vacating, will be advertised. 

Dr. Don Skelton has agreed to delay his retirement so as to assist in the completion of a study which will determine the feasibility of the university undertaking a Capital Campaign.  Dr. Skelton also will serve as a resource to me and Mr. Staub in addressing various enhancements in our athletics program.  He has assumed the title of Special Assistant to the President.  This position will be eliminated upon Dr. Skelton’s retirement. 

Mr. Michael Trevathan is being promoted to Executive Director for Auxiliary Enterprises.  Mike has served as coordinator of auxiliary services for eight years at ULM.  This will consolidate all auxiliary operations, which include all self-generating budgets under one area.  This will allow for more strategic decision making and better communications among these very important student and campus services. While this area will report to the Executive Vice President, the financial responsibility for all privately funded projects will remain under the authority of the Chief Business Officer. 

Following a search process in accordance with University of Louisiana System policy, I have selected Dr. Stephen Richters to assume the role of Executive Vice President.  Dr. Richters’ institutional history and knowledge of the institution provides continuity as my transition continues.  Dr. Richters and I have discussed my goals for the areas assigned to the Executive Vice President which include improving our customer service.  We also have discussed that our decision making will be based upon careful planning and deliberate execution. Dr. Richters will relocate to Suite 605 in the Library building.

Dr. Eric Pani has agreed to serve as Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs.  I will be forming a search committee shortly with a goal of hiring a permanent Vice President by July 1, 2012.  This position shall assume my responsibilities in my absence.  Dr. Pani will remain in the current Academic Affairs offices in the Library.

Interim approvals have been requested from System staff with ratification being requested at the October board meeting.

Lastly, I want every employee regardless of their role to know his/her value to this institution.  Therefore, I shared with those reporting to me my expectations as to how we will lead this university.  Expectations are to be clearly stated in order to maximize clarity of our direction.

Since the university is being held accountable by both the UL System and Board of Regents, each unit within our university must also be accountable for its contribution if the institution is to be successful.  ULM is a great institution, and our best days are forthcoming.

I will continue to be accessible and work tirelessly to spread the word of your amazing accomplishments and to support your efforts.  Thank you for your commitment to ULM.    

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

August 19, 2011
Update on student commitment to Natatorium

A message to ULM faculty and staff from ULM President Nick J. Bruno

Dear Colleagues,

In the event you have not heard or read of our students' desire to seek options regarding the natatorium, please find below a link which will connect you to the overview student leaders provided to individuals in the community.

I am very proud that our students have addressed this matter with such professionalism and in a spirit of collaboration.

From the beginning of this process, our students have sought the opportunity to develop options that all students could consider this fall.

The current facility is in need of significant repairs and has limited usage by our students, who pay for the operations through student fees. Community members who utilize the natatorium expressed interest in renovating the nat and possibly assuming operational control. They will continue to explore options available to them.

Several meetings have been held which have been very constructive. Please note that a revised membership fee schedule is included and will become effective September 1, 2011.

I will continue to keep you posted on this issue.

www.ulm.edu/universityrelations/news/aug11/committment.html [New Link Here]

Have a great weekend.

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

July 7, 2011
New ULM Organizational Chart

A message to ULM faculty and staff from ULM President Nick J. Bruno

Dear Colleagues,

On August 1, 2011, a new University of Louisiana at Monroe organizational chart will take effect.

This chart was developed over the last several months after receiving input from a variety of constituent groups, external as well as internal. My discussions with these constituencies confirmed three chief suggestions for improvement.

First, ULM should seek ways to reduce the size of its upper-level administrative staff. Second, there should be a greater focus on our academic core, and finally, ULM should provide the best possible “customer service” as it can to our most important clientele – faculty and students.

In light of these suggestions, I have made the decision to reduce our vice presidential appointments from five to three.

These three vice presidents are the vice president for academics, the vice president of student affairs and the executive vice president, who will each focus on areas of campus relevant and specific to their expertise.  The executive vice president will replace the two former vice presidential positions.  A chief business officer will be added and be responsible for a smaller span of control.

You will see that the areas falling under administrator control are better aligned with divisional and departmental responsibility. As an example, the vice president for academics will be strictly responsible for our five academic colleges, while our executive vice president will oversee those areas concerned with internal and external support services, including University Police.

These changes have been proposed to and endorsed by the University of Louisiana System with expectation of full Board approval in August.  UL System policy will be followed in filling positions where applicable.  

As mentioned, my goal is to better align areas of responsibility within the proper framework and leadership. I believe that change though sometimes challenging is a good thing, and I am certain that the new organizational structure will benefit the entire campus in the long run.

You should also be aware that savings expected from these actions will be strategically reallocated to academic and support functions.  As always, please contact my office if you have any comments.

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

July 7, 2011
Closing of Lake C. Oxford Natatorium

A message to ULM faculty and staff from ULM President Nick J. Bruno

Dear Colleagues,

This is to inform you that effective August 13, 2011, Lake C. Natatorium will be closed pending a thorough evaluation of its condition as well as a review of available options.  Our Student Government Association recently approved a resolution supporting the temporary closure of the ULM Lake C. Oxford Natatorium by the end of summer session.

This student-driven initiative came about following a study that indicated almost $1,800,000 in repairs are needed to keep the Natatorium fully operational. The facility is in need of improvements that include a new roof, new chiller system, new ceilings and lighting, as well as chemical, pump and valve replacements. We felt it best that our students and this administration use the down-time productively as we consider our alternatives.

The Student Government Association resolution addressed the closure of the Natatorium based on the low student usage of the facility and the need to identify opportunities to improve student services. In addition, many students have expressed to SGA their desire to see the Natatorium replaced by facilities that might address the needs of a greater number of students.

The same architect who helped design Bayou Park and housing improvements on the ULM campus will visit in July to provide insight for students and administration. In the meantime, the Natatorium will remain closed pending a review of the suggested plans, and Natatorium staff will be reassigned to other areas on campus.

I sincerely regret the impact the closure will have on those community, as well as faculty, staff and student members who used the pool. Please know that the university will work with area facilities to offer alternatives.

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

May 21, 2011
Update on Legislative process and impacts on ULM's Operating Budget

A message to ULM faculty and staff from ULM President Nick J. Bruno

Dear Colleagues,

The University of Louisiana System provides a weekly update of legislation which could impact system institutions. There was considerable activity this week that may impact our budget for F/Y 2010  I wanted to share with you. 

As you read these actions, you will see how difficult it is to predict the final budget. I wish to call your attention to the summary of the 3/4/5 tuition authority action.  Our delegation all voted favorably for that authority; however, it did not secure enough senate member votes to pass.  The impact of this action if not reversed prior to session’s end will have an additional $1.8 million dollar reduction on our budget. 

 

MONDAY 5/16 
The House Ways and Means Committee passed HB 633 and 634 by Rep Greene out of committee.  The bills eliminate the personal and corporate income tax and revenues of $14.8 billion over the next 5 years.

The Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs committee also passed SB 259 by Sen Marionneaux that provides for a 5 year phase out of those same taxes.  Despite attempts to have the bill recommitted to the Senate Finance committee, the bill has been placed on special order for floor debate next Tuesday 5/24. 

TUESDAY 5/17 
The House Appropriation committee reported HB1.  The committee eliminated a number of the Governor’s recommendations for using contingency and supplemental appropriations (including the prison sales, the TOPS dedication and the increase in employee retirement contributions).  As a result, there were additional reductions to the Dept of Education, Health and Hospitals, Public Safety and Corrections Services and other executive agencies; including elimination of funding for the 27th pay period.  There were no reductions made to Higher Education.  The bill is scheduled for floor debate on Wednesday 5/25.

Senate Floor passed SB52/53 with virtually no opposition;  the bill dedicates the full amount of the tobacco settlement proceeds to the TOPS fund.  Proceeds are currently shared by the Health Excellence Fund, the Education Excellence Fund and the TOPS Fund.  Similar legislation HB 390/457by J. Smith is moving through the House.  The constitutional amendment will also require a vote of the people. 

WEDNESDAY 5/18 
This year is the final year of the “3/4/5 tuition authority” which was authorized in 2008.  The increase must be approved by the Joint Committee on the Budget by a majority of both the House and Senate members.  JLCB considered the item which failed to pass in the Senate vote (it was 4-4 tie vote).  The item may be reconsidered upon a motion by the prevailing side, i.e. one of the Senators who voted no must make the motion.  We are hopeful that there will be another JLCB meeting scheduled to address this issue.   I have included a copy of the vote so you can better discuss with your members.   

The Revenue Estimating Conference Committee met and recognized a reduction of $77 million in current year revenues.  There are no indication as of yet on what actions are being considered to address this shortfall.  The REC actually recognized a surplus of $118 million from FY10 in an earlier meeting this year, however, those funds have already been budgeted in FY12 to address the $1.6 billion deficit.

Speaker Tucker was unable to generate the necessary 2/3 support to pass the SUNO/UNO merger bill (HB 537). Instead he announced he would amend the bill to transfer the University of New Orleans to the UL System.  Today in Senate Education the duplicate SB183 by Sen Appel was passed by substitute. 

THURSDAY 5/19

Retirement committee considered a number of bills that would impact retiree benefits includingHB530 by Pearson which was deferred.  HB 479 by Talbot which increases contributions for LASERS employees was approved by the committee.

SCHEDULE FOR NEXT WEEK 
This is what has been scheduled to date:

Monday 5/23 
Appropriations

  • HB32 Ancillary Appropriation bill
  • HB611 Supplemental Appropriation bill

Ways and Means

  • HB2 Capital Outlay bill
  • HB3 Omnibus Bond Act

House Floor

  • HB 537 SUNO/UNO merger- to be amended to UNO transfer to ULS

Tuesday 5/24 
Senate Floor

  • SB259- 5 year phase out of personal and corporate income taxes

Wednesday 5/25 
House Floor

  • HB 1 General Appropriations Bill
  • HB 477 (transfers fund balances to the Overcollections Fund)

 

STILL TO BE ANNOUNCED 
Grad Act (HB 549) has been referred to Senate Education.  There are still a number of Senate bills pending which will probably be heard before they start scheduling House bills.

Gun Bill (HB413) still has not been scheduled for hearing in the Criminal Justice committee.  We have heard it may be scheduled for June 1.  We will coordinate with the Board of Regents and other systems and I will get back to you with specifics on testimony and documentation required for that day. 

 

Thank you,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

April 19, 2011
Governor's budget, upcoming legislative session and how it may affect ULM

A message to ULM faculty and staff from ULM President Nick J. Bruno

Dear Colleagues,

There is considerable discussion around the state concerning budgets for higher education. I want to share some important information with you about our current budget for the fiscal year, a preliminary look at next year's budget, and the effects of rising mandated costs.

As you are probably aware, the governor released his Executive Budget on Friday, March 11, 2011.

The governor's budget is intended to stabilize funding to higher education; however, it does include several proposals which must be approved by the legislature for fiscal stabilization to be realized.

I attended the House Appropriations Committee meeting on March 31 as requested by our System staff.

This was a very preliminary meeting. The new Commissioner of Higher Education, Dr. Jim Purcell, presented the higher education portion of the executive budget to that committee.

Each system head was afforded the opportunity to speak; however, at that time specifics were not available as to how the budgets for each institution were developed.

Since that time, the Board of Regents, through the University of Louisiana System, has provided us with more details on the calculation of each institution's projected budget for fiscal year 2012.

Our budget consists of three primary sources of funding: state funds, statutory dedicated funds (which are specified by legislation), and tuition and fees paid by students.

Our current year's budget totals $83.2 million, 58% from state funds and 42% from tuition and fees.

You should note that our actual, total revenues for the current fiscal year are projected to be approximately $82.6 million.

For fiscal year 2012's budget, if approved as submitted by the governor, we would receive budget authority of $83.9 million, 49% state and 51% tuition and fees. This ratio is approximately the same as the SREB averages.

Proposed changes to the tuition and fee structure include: 1) adjusting the base upon which the 4% operational fee is calculated to reflect current tuition and fee charges, and 2) allowing universities to charge up to 15 hours (currently tuition can only be charged for 12 hours).

These changes would total approximately $659,000 and $2.7 million respectively for ULM.

These amounts would be realized only if legislation that requires a 2/3 vote of the legislature occurs and our current enrollment is maintained.

We expect to generate approximately $3.4 million additional revenues from increasing tuition as a result of achieving our GRAD Act targets for this year.

Also included in the fiscal year 2012 budget is approximately $3.2 million in state funding which may only be available in fiscal year 2012.

At this time, these funds are considered non-recurring.

The source of these funds are primarily Federal Stimulus dollars that are being "shared" with K-12.

Another budgetary item that is not considered within the discussion of budget revenues is the matter of mandated costs.

I am sure you have heard about the rising costs of health care and retirement to public agencies around the state.

ULM also faces those increased costs of employee benefits.

The estimated increase in fiscal 2012 is $2.2 million.

As you can see, the increased cost of benefits absorbs 66% of the additional estimated tuition increase ($3.4 million) we expect from our GRAD Act authority.

The legislature will convene on Monday, April 25, 2011, and deliberation on the budget will begin.

The legislature will adjourn no later than 6:00 p.m., Thursday June 23, 2011.

As in the past, I am sure during that time many questions will be posed and the merits of the governor's proposals will be debated.

The uncertainty related to those proposals, which will require legislative approval, makes it impossible to estimate our final budget position at this time.

I will keep you informed throughout the process.

It is imperative that we as a university community do everything possible to assure that we aggressively recruit, retain and graduate our students.

For every 100 full-time students, approximately $460,000 is generated in annual revenues.

This is one factor that we as an institution can control.

In order to maintain our authority to increase tuition in future years, we must meet the targets set for ULM by the LA GRAD Act, which was passed in last year's Legislative session.

Provost Richters has been working diligently along with the deans, faculty and staff in preparing this year's report as well as next year's plan which must be submitted for approval.

Our success will require the entire university community's commitment in order to meet those targets.

As I have said on many occasions, our legislators are faced with many difficult decisions.

I have witnessed the past support ULM has received from our Northeast Louisiana delegation.

I am also confident they will make every effort to minimize reductions to our university.

I encourage you to thank them whenever the opportunity arises for their past efforts and ask for their continued support.

Soon I will ask the Vice Presidents to begin budgetary discussions, beginning with the departmental levels.

I continue to be optimistic that this university will remain strong and grow with our combined efforts during these challenging fiscal times.

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

March 4, 2011
Update on the Status of Low-Completer programs

A message to ULM faculty and staff from ULM President Nick J. Bruno

Dear Colleagues,

I regret I failed to provide you with this communication earlier. However, I wanted to provide you a more comprehensive account of our response related to the low completer issue.

As you are aware, actions by the Board of Regents (BoR) and the University of Louisiana System (ULS) regarding low-completer and duplicate programs have made news recently.

The BoR is constitutionally mandated to periodically review degree programs provided by the state's postsecondary institutions and recommend those that should be continued, consolidated, or eliminated. The standards used to identify low-completer programs in the current review are listed below.

• Undergraduate programs: average 8 completers/year or a minimum of 24 completers in 3 years

• Masters/Specialist programs: average 5 completers/year or a minimum of 15 completers in 3 years

• Doctoral programs: average 2 completers/year or a minimum of 6 completers in 3 years

Using these stricter guidelines and shortening the period of examination from five to three years produced 450 low completer programs, 212 of which were in the ULS and 32 of which were at ULM. Programs which were excluded from previous low completer reviews were included for this review; some examples were chemistry, mathematics, secondary education.

Campuses could request one of three alternatives for each program: terminate it, combine it with other programs, or continue it. Information about fiscal impact was required for any program recommended for termination or consolidation.

Reports were due to the Regents on February 28, and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Stephen Richters and his staff worked diligently with the deans, the department heads, and especially the faculty to determine the recommendations for our campus. I hope that you will join me in thanking them for this exemplary effort.

The recommendations we submitted are the following.

Appeals for continuation (10)

• BA Communication Studies
• BA Political Science
• BM Music
• BS Atmospheric Sciences
• BS Chemistry
• BS Computer Science
• PBC Gerontological Studies
• MA English
• MEd Educational Technology Leadership
• MEd Multiple Levels K-12

Program consolidation (15)

• Consolidate the BA in Art Education (K-12) as a concentration in the BFA in Art.
• Consolidate the BA in English Education (6-12), the BA in Social Studies Education (6-12), the BS in Biology Education (6-12), the BS in Chemistry Education (6-12), the BA in French Education (6-12), the BA in Spanish Education (6-12), and the BS in Earth Science Education (6-12) into concentrations within an MEd in Secondary Education.
• Consolidate the BA in French and the BA in Spanish as concentrations in the BA in Modern Languages.
• Consolidate the BME in Music Education-Instrumental (K-12) and the BME in Music Education-Vocal
(K-12) as concentrations in the BM in Music.
• Consolidate the BS in Mathematics Education (6-12) as an option in the BS in Mathematics.
• Consolidate the EdD in Educational Leadership into the EdD in Curriculum and Instruction.

Request for termination (7)

• AA Criminal Justice
• BME Music Education-Vocal/Instrumental (K-12)
• BS Family and Consumer Science Education (6-12)
• BS Health and Physical Education (K-12)
• BS Speech Education (6-12)
• MA Substance Abuse Counseling
• MS Pharmaceutical Science

The consolidation of several programs designed for teachers of grades 6-12 into a single MEd in Secondary Education returns ULM to a structure used five years ago before the statewide redesign efforts instituted by the Louisiana Department of Education.

Additionally, the BS in Health and Physical Education (K-12) had been minimized already by a similar concentration in the BS in Kinesiology, and the MA in Substance Abuse Counseling had previously been consolidated into the MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

All recommendations for termination include a phase-out plan for majors that should allow most or all students to complete their degrees within two years. The seven programs recommended for termination contain a total of 27 students (2 masters, 14 bachelors and 11 associates).

No terminations of tenured or tenure-track faculty are anticipated if our recommendations are followed. However, the Regents have made it abundantly clear that programs recommended for continuation will have to be vigorously defended, so all programs on the low-completer list are at risk of termination.

While we feel confident that our arguments for these programs are sound and well-formed, the Regents have the authority to decide their fate and faculty terminations in affected programs likely would occur if the Regents do not accept recommendations for continuation of certain low-completer programs. Issues related to any faculty termination notification, should they occur, will be consistent with ULS Program Discontinuance policies.

Since this is an externally initiated review, the BoR actions regarding these low-completer programs will not be reviewed and approved by the Board of Supervisors for the ULS. The timeline for the BoR staff to present final recommendations to the Board's Academic Affairs Committee is April 27, 2011. This will be the final opportunity for any faculty or students who may potentially be affected to speak up on behalf of their programs.

You can be assured that I will keep you informed as the process unfolds. Meanwhile, I request that you continue to deliver the high quality classroom experience ULM prides itself. I remain positive that ULM has a great future through our combined commitment and efforts.

Thank you.

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

February 21, 2011
Press Release from Gov. Jindal on Higher Education and the Upcoming Budget

A message to ULM faculty and staff from ULM President Nick J. Bruno

Dear Colleagues,

Please find below the news release which summarizes Governor Bobby Jindal's comments today regarding his plan for the upcoming budget.

This is being provided to keep you informed. I will continue to do so. As it becomes more clear, you will be provided the effects proposed legislation may have on ULM if successful.

Thank you.

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President

 

 

State of Louisiana FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Office of the Governor February 21, 2011
GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL Press Office: Melissa Sellers, Kyle Plotkin
Contact: 225-342-8006, (c) 225-328-3755

Governor Jindal Announces Budget Flexibility Legislation to Help Protect Higher Education and Health Care

BATON ROUGE – Today, Governor Bobby Jindal announced three bills the administration will pursue in the legislative session to provide greater flexibility in the state's budget process and help protect critical services including higher education and health care during budget reductions.

Governor Jindal said, "As we confront the budget challenges in the next fiscal year, we must transform state government to become more efficient and sustainable while protecting critical services for our people like education and health care. These budget flexibility bills are an important way to free up funds that are currently locked away, while the areas of higher education and health care are left vulnerable to reductions in tough budget years."

"A total of $4.75 billion is locked away in dedicated funds in the current fiscal year. These three bills will put more options on the table so we can access this funding to help protect critical services. As we have said before when we fought for similar legislation, we must be able to put all state spending on the table, especially as we work to make reductions and improve efficiencies across state government."

The Governor stressed that the ability to access all budget items is essential to a sound budget process that makes the best use of taxpayer money.

Chairman of Blueprint Louisiana Bill Fenstermaker said, "For the last four years, Blueprint Louisiana has advocated for systemic reforms to make the state a better place to live and work. We recognize the state's budget challenges are considerable, but they also present an opportunity for additional governmental reform. We applaud Governor Bobby Jindal's budget flexibility package, which aligns with Blueprint's recommendation to unlock protected dollars and free up funding for statewide priorities, such as health care and higher education. We look forward to working with the Legislature and the Governor to get this set of bills passed into law."

Regents Chairman Bob Levy said, "I support any effort that would result in a lessening of the disproportionate burden borne by post-secondary education when there is a severe budget deficit."

President of the LSU System John V. Lombardi said, "Given the challenging budget circumstances we face in Louisiana, we all need to make the necessary adjustments to enable education, health care, and other vital services to continue for our citizens. The LSU System continues to support initiatives that will give legislators flexibility to make strategic adjustments throughout the state budget to spread and minimize the impact of revenue reductions on all of the state's public services."

President of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System Dr. Joe May said, "There are areas of our budget that we could tap into in times of revenue declines; however, we're limited by a five percent reduction cap, meaning we lack options in balancing the state budget. We need to open up the process and give the Legislature more options for how they can properly balance the budget while avoiding cuts to higher education. I think the Governor's budget package does just that."

UL System President Randy Moffett said, "The University of Louisiana System supports the efforts of Governor Jindal to review all dedicated funding with an eye towards the more appropriate distribution of funding and flexibility as government priorities and functions change. Currently, the hands of our legislators and administration are tied during economic downturns, forcing significant cuts to higher education and health care. If Louisiana is to prosper, we must invest in the education and well-being of its citizens."

Iowa pharmacist and Chairman of the Louisiana Independent Pharmacies Association Ricky Guidry said, "Balancing a budget becomes more challenging for our state and nation; just as it does for small businesses and families. Our elected leaders should not have to isolate education and health care as the two most at-risk budget categories while they try to meet the constraints of the resources we have. We support budget flexibility in the appropriations and management process."

Sen. Mike Walsworth said, "For too long, our areas of higher education and health care have taken the brunt of cuts every time our state saw a decrease in revenue. To sacrifice the education and health of our children is unacceptable, and that's why legislators need more flexibility in reviewing the budget and making more strategic reductions so we can continue delivering the sort of services our citizens rely on."

Louisiana Hospital Association President and CEO John Matessino said, "The LHA supports the Governor's strategy on budget flexibility. We cannot continue to force healthcare and higher education to bear the brunt of the budget shortfall. Making smaller reductions in a number of programs, rather than large cuts in one or two, is not only smart, it's fiscally prudent. If we want Louisiana to prosper, we must change the way in which the state's budget is addressed."

Three Budget Reform Initiatives to Improve Budget Flexibility:

1.) Increase the annual five percent cap of cutting dedicated funds to 10 percent during a deficit. This initiative will help mitigate budget reductions that may be made to health care and higher education as a result of a deficit. (Sponsored by Sen. Gerald Long)

Traditionally, general fund expenditures in health care and higher education in Louisiana are the most vulnerable in budget challenges. Nearly 95 percent of higher education's state general fund monies are unprotected. This initiative will help direct funding to health care and higher education to ensure that funds are available so critical services are protected.

In the 2009 legislative session, the Governor signed ACT 479 by Sen. Chaisson which eliminated the two-year limit on dedicated fund reductions to find savings in dedicated funds in back-to-back years during multiple year budget shortfalls. Prior to passage, 5 percent of budget adjustments had to be spread over a two year period.

This new law would allow another option for the administration and Legislature to use when developing a budget savings plan. Current law, in accordance with the state constitution, allows reductions to be considered to statutory dedications of up to five percent during a deficit. Previously, the Governor proposed a similar plan that would increase the annual cap from five to 10 percent that would affect constitutionally mandated funds. This year's legislation will focus on those funds that are not protected by the Constitution and will also exclude those dedications based on fees paid by businesses for specific regulatory services.

The author of the bill, Senator Gerald Long, said, "For us to best do our jobs, we need to have the freedom to review the budget and make adjustments accordingly, and right now we just don't have enough access to certain parts of it to make the best decisions for our citizens. The Governor's budget package will provide the budgeting process with more transparency, give us more of an opportunity to openly discuss how we're using our dollars and empower us to vote on how those dollars should be used. In tough economic times, we need more flexibility to make a more efficient and effective government, and I think this package of bills will get the job done."

2.) Access interest (non-principal funds) generated by statutory dedications during a deficit, and mitigate any budget reductions that may be made to health care and higher education as a result of a deficit. (Sponsored by Sen. Gerald Long)

This new statute would allow interest earned on specific statutory dedications to be used to ensure that critical services are not disproportionately affected during a deficit. Interest that is earned on funds is often carried over year after year to increase fund balances. It often does nothing but earn more money. Rather than cutting critical services while allowing interest to accumulate in a fund, this legislation will allow access to this funding to help mitigate reductions to the most vulnerable budget areas – health care and higher education. Approximately $153.9 million in interest was accrued in FY10 for all statutory and special funds and 180 funds earned interest in FY10, ranging from $3 to $30.5 million per fund.

The proposed law would allow the interest of funds to be reallocated during a deficit. The bill will focus only on the interest of funds that are not protected by the Constitution and will not include those dedications based on fees paid by businesses for specific regulatory services.

3.) Require the sunset of all dedicated funds, with few exceptions. (Sponsored by Sen. Mike Michot)

Last year, Governor Jindal signed into law Act 492, which requires that an annual report be submitted for all entities and activities supported by appropriations from each fund. Additionally, 25 percent of funds must be reviewed every two years by the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget. While the enactment of this law ensures that the Legislature exercises greater scrutiny over dedicated funds, there is no mechanism in this statute for removing special protections for funds that are no longer necessary or that no longer serve their intended purpose.

This legislation will routinely remove special protections for dedicated funds, except as provided by the Constitution of Louisiana and those that are exempted in present law. Unless the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget recommends the continuation of a fund, and the Legislature enacts a law to continue or modify a fund, that fund should sunset for regular review.

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January 28, 2011
Welcome back and Top Ten Initiatives

A message to ULM faculty and staff from ULM President Nick J. Bruno

Dear Colleagues,

I wanted to welcome you back to campus and wish you all a very enjoyable and productive semester. Over the last twelve weeks as your new president, I have met with many members of our campus and surrounding communities.

This has allowed me to become reacquainted with the various constituents who contribute to the success of this university. In addition, I have met and spoken to many individuals throughout the state, including the leaders of higher education institutions in North Louisiana. I have assured them that the University of Louisiana at Monroe is prepared to collaborate with them to build upon our joint ability to educate the citizens of North Louisiana and work towards improving their standard of living and building a better prepared workforce.

While there is uncertainty as to the upcoming fiscal year's budget, I remain positive that this university will be a stronger institution by addressing our challenges in a strategic manner. Every decision that will be made in the coming months and years will be driven by one overriding question, "What is best for ULM?" The tradition is strong and my many discussions have reaffirmed what I knew about the students, faculty, staff, alumni and community; they are all proud of their affiliation with this university.

I have also heard one recurring theme from our various constituents, "What can I do?" To that I respond, "Hold your head up, not down; look forward, not back." We are moving forward, we will overcome the challenges we will face, and we will continue to be a great university. This will be accomplished by our continued collaboration, collective thoughts, and efforts.

During the search process I committed to being open and accessible and to work with "all who love this institution." I remain committed to that and urge all of you to be open and accessible to your colleagues, our external constituents, and most importantly our students who have chosen ULM. We must reconfirm daily that they made the right choice. Our courtesy and respect toward each other and to them must not waiver. I also pledged that the flow of communication will be open and direct.

Following are the Top Ten Initiatives that will guide and direct our actions over the remainder of this year:

1. I have asked Dr. Richters and Lisa Miller to prepare and submit to me a new recruitment plan. I have also requested for input from every academic college regarding recruitment and how the faculty, staff, and students can contribute to our recruitment efforts. Within that charge, I have asked that the plan include how we will address recruiting students from other regions of our state, primarily South Louisiana; out of state, primarily Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas; and how we will increase our international student population. This plan will identify and recruit academically prepared students who can succeed and meet our achievement expectations.

2. The provost, vice presidents and academic deans have been asked to consider a process for strategic reductions so that we might act on any reduction we are called upon to make. I am not a proponent of "across the board" reductions so an alternative process is necessary. This too will be an open process.

3. A new facilities plan is being developed to provide more identity for each of our colleges and identify those facilities that are in need of renovations. The first building on our priority list will be Sandel Hall. It is a critical facility in our intermediate and long term student recruitment and retention goals. Others are being identified in order to best guide our planning process.

4. Mr. Bobby Staub is also developing a facilities master plan for our athletic facilities. Since these facilities must be renovated with non-state dollars, a funding plan is also being developed.

5. Dr. Wayne Brumfield continues to address the student development component of our university. The engagement of our students in various activities will assist us in improving our retention, and grow our graduation rates. I have met with the student leadership, and they are eager to participate.

6. I have asked the Faculty Senate to proceed with a faculty survey so I might gain insights into those areas where my attention should be directed. In addition, I have asked that not only the results of that survey be provided, but also suggestions for improvement.

7. I have been in discussions with several individuals related to solutions which would expedite and simplify the grant writing and administration process. Once the feasibility of this concept is confirmed, I will invite faculty and staff to provide feedback and assist in facilitating change.

8. Mr. Keith Brown and Mr. Tommy Walpole have been charged with developing a plan to increase our alumni membership over the next several years. It is critical that we increase the participation of our alumni in promoting our university. We must provide opportunities for our alums to "re-connect" to their alma mater.

9. University Relations and Marketing will now report directly to me. I will be forming a committee composed of internal and external members to develop a plan which will be utilized to develop expanded name recognition for our university in areas where recruitment will be targeted. This will then be followed by a marketing plan for the university which will provide greater awareness of our outstanding and unique academic programs.

10. We are beginning the process of examining internal structures to make sure that appropriate policies and procedures are in place throughout all phases of our university operations.

Thank you again for your dedication and commitment to ULM. I will continue to keep you informed of our progress and remain open to any suggestions you may have. I know we can, and I am sure we will.

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


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