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President Nick J. Bruno

2012 Dear Colleagues E-mails

December 17, 2012
Notification of mid-year budget cuts

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

Dear Colleagues,

On Friday, Dec. 14, I was notified by the University of Louisiana System staff that a mid-year budget reduction was declared.

ULM's budget will be reduced by $768,902 of the total $7,171,253 allocated to the UL system.

I was disappointed that the reductions were once again allocated on a pro-rata basis totalling approximately 2.6% of our State funds.

While this amount is significantly below last year's mid-year reduction, our operations will no doubt be impacted.

I have asked the vice presidents to begin to review their respective areas to identify how we might minimize the effect of this latest reduction.

Unfortunately, the cummulative effect of the recurring reductions as a result of the State's continuing economic downturn will result in further stress to ULM.

I will certainly keep you informed of our actions.

Thank you.

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

November 1, 2012
Update on the relocation of the Museum of Natural History

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

Dear Colleagues,

ULM’s Museum of Natural History is an important resource, and we value it greatly. ULM has supported the museum by providing more than 25,000 square feet of space, utilities, maintenance and security.  In addition, ULM's administration, faculty, staff, and many volunteers have contributed significantly to the museum’s success. 

In March 2012, university leaders worked with the museum to design renovations for the first two floors of Hanna Hall. This new location would have provided approximately 40,000 square feet of space, a significant increase compared to the museum’s current allocation of 25,000 square feet in Sandel Hall.  

The June 2012 fire in George T. Walker Hall significantly affected our plans for relocating the museum. This fire effectively closed Walker Hall for two years and required the university to relocate all departments from Walker Hall to Hanna, Strauss, Stubbs, Sugar, Brown, and the Library.

During the renovation of Walker Hall, the second floor of Hanna is being used for academic administration; the first floor of Hanna is slated to be used as the temporary home of the bookstore and faculty offices.  The urgency in finding a new location for the museum is even more critical as Sandel Hall will soon undergo a major, multi-million dollar renovation that will support improved student recruitment and retention.

During the past several weeks, the administration met several times with the Museum of Natural History Advisory Committee, along with other community and faculty supporters of the museum. A number of scenarios were discussed, including moving the entire museum off campus.

Dr. Tom Sasek, associate professor of biology and Director of the ULM Museum of Natural History, communicated that the museum advisory committee would prefer the public display and research collections to remain on campus; he indicated that a display space of at least 2,500 square feet would suffice.

Ensuing discussions between the museum advisory committee and the ULM administration resulted in an agreement to move the research collections to the first floor of Brown Stadium (formerly occupied by Graphic Services), where the collections will be housed in a temperature controlled environment and will continue to be available to research scientists.

Dr. Sasek then proposed to create a public display area on the first floor of Hanna Hall. ULM’s administration reviewed this proposal and decided to allocate approximately 3,400 square feet, all of which will be accessible to ULM students, local grade school students, and community members.

The museum’s move to Brown and Hanna will occur over the coming months.

I want to express my appreciation to our university and community leaders who, in the spirit of collegiality, have worked with us to create a resolution for the museum we all treasure. I know we all look forward to the museum’s permanent home in Hanna Hall.

Thank you.

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

October 30, 2012
Memorial Services for Ms. Kitty DeGree

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

Dear Colleagues,

As many of you know, ULM lost a dear friend last week. Kitty DeGree, a philanthropist and advocate of this university, devoted her time and resources to the betterment of our university.

Her ties to ULM are strong, and we are honored to host her memorial service on our campus. Please join me in honoring Kitty’s memory during a special program at 2 p.m., Friday, Nov. 2, in the Saint Francis Medical Center Auditorium, located in the Nursing building.

Over her lifetime, Kitty was the largest individual donor to ULM. Her generosity benefited both faculty and students through substantial gifts that have established scholarships, endowed professorships, and an endowed chair.

Please join us as we pay our final respects to a lady whose contributions will serve our students for many years to come. 

Thank you, and I hope your schedule allows to you attend. 

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

September 10, 2012
Congratulations on football upset over Arkansas

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

Dear Colleagues,

I am sure you share the pride held by both our university and our community—pride in ULM's football team and their win Saturday night against the University of Arkansas.

I have received congratulatory notes and calls from all over the state and country regarding this win. Their accomplishment has brought considerable attention to not only the team and players, but to our university. 

We could not have afforded to pay for the publicity this one win has brought to our university.

Head Football Coach Todd Berry and his staff have worked very hard to produce a winning team and to ensure the academic success of their players. I also applaud the leadership of Athletic Director Bobby Staub.

Berry's philosophy is shared by all of our coaches. They understand the importance of their students’ academic careers.

On Thursday, there are two events where you can show your support for our student-athletes. At noon at the Garden Inn in West Monroe, the second Quarterback luncheon of the season will be held.  The cost is only $10. 

The other is a ceremony honoring our Sunbelt Conference baseball team.  This will be held at 3 p.m. in the SUB Ballroom.

At that time, the baseball team members will be presented with their conference championship rings.  If your schedules permit, please consider attending one or both. 

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

August 7, 2012
Budget Update, Campus Reorganization

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

Dear Colleagues,

ULM serves an important role, not just in northeastern Louisiana, but throughout the state.  We are navigating financial challenges together while maintaining the role, scope, and mission of our university.  Additionally, we are surpassing many of our GRAD Act targets for improved performance and accountability.

We are focused on meeting the workforce demands of our region by graduating well-educated nurses, accountants, pharmacists, teachers, social workers, and a wide variety of other professionals in record numbers. This focus has been and will continue to be at the forefront of our minds as we make difficult decisions.

Despite facing these unprecedented financial challenges, our university remains dynamic and financially strong as evidenced by Moody’s Investors Service’s affirmation of ULM’s credit outlook as “stable.”

Through your efforts and those of the university’s administration, we will continue our success with this year's total operating budget of $73,548,495, an amount $4,813,852, or 6.14 percent less than our budget on 6/30/12. 

In total, our operating budget has decreased $7,330,515 or 9.1 percent from July 1, 2011, which includes mid-year, end-of-year, and group benefits funding reductions. Much of these reductions were realized through the elimination of 53 positions, including some in restricted funds, since July 1, 2011.

Nevertheless, ULM is committed to offering the classes needed by students who are making academic progress toward degree completion. While no majors have been eliminated, we have had to modify our academic structure to meet the demands of the budget.

First, we have taken steps to terminate eight low-enrolled minors after this academic year. Only four students have completed these minors in the last two years, so demand does not warrant continuation of the programs.

Second, Academic Affairs faculty and staff have diligently worked during the past several months to streamline the administration. Administrative department head positions were reduced from 18 to seven and the position of associate vice president for academic affairs was eliminated.

In addition, the position of executive assistant to the president has been vacated and will not be refilled. These decisions were made with involvement of ULM faculty and were based on a two-year review of academic programs that included input from the faculty and the Faculty Senate. The resulting structure is academically sound and minimizes the impact on ULM students, faculty, and staff.

Third, all tenured members of the faculty have been retained. Two tenure-track faculty members will no longer be employed after this academic year. Six non-tenure track faculty and four staff members employed last year will not have renewed appointments this year.

Forty-one additional positions—25 in Academic Affairs and 16 elsewhere—vacated through retirements or resignations over the last year will not be filled. Personnel notifications will be made next week.

Graphic Services, which has been operating as an auxiliary service on ULM’s campus for more than 32 years, closed last week. As the university’s printing and mailing needs have changed over the last few years, a review of current printing and mailing services found it was more cost-effective to consolidate those services than to continue operating Graphic Services as an auxiliary.

Graphic design work and consultation will continue through the Office of Public Information. In an effort to improve efficiency, ULM’s Copy Center was merged with Campus Mail Services as a single operating unit under auxiliary enterprises. ULM Campus Mail Services will continue to handle all departmental mailing needs.

Since the 2008-09 academic year, ULM’s total budget has been reduced by $14.6 million or 16.6 percent.

This has resulted in the elimination of 209 positions, 34.5 percent of which were faculty and 65.5 percent of which were non-faculty. As a point of reference, that workforce is comparable in size to the number of people employed locally by Angus Chemical.

During that time frame, state support to ULM has decreased from around $57.1 million to around $31.7 million, representing a 44.4 percent decrease. Yet during that time, 5,778 students have graduated from ULM and have begun careers that are fulfilling to them and meaningful to society. 

I know you have questions about available funds to higher education and the allocation of existing funds.  During the past two months, we have been analyzing the state’s funding formula and its method of allocating funds.  We have informed appropriate officials across the state of our findings and will continue to do so until we reach a resolution.

Thank you for all that you have accomplished during the past several months.  I look forward to working with you, not only in maintaining our achievements, but also in surpassing them.

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

July 20, 2012
Budget Update

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

Dear Colleagues,

It has been a while since I communicated with you regarding budget matters.  Dr. Pani provided faculty some insights in his biweekly blog as to the progress of ULM’s budget development.

I have met with the deans on several occasions as well as the vice presidents to discuss our strategy and develop the plan for FY2012-13.

You may have read the News-Star article where Senator Thompson and Representative Chaney have met to express their concerns regarding adequate funding for ULM and other universities who offer high cost programs, such as our fine arts, sciences, health sciences and pharmacy.  I appreciate their effort in understanding this issue and in raising awareness of the problem.

Over the last several weeks, Dr. Pani, Dr. Richters and I have conducted a thorough analysis of our funding as well as how the Board of Regents’ funding formula impacts our budget.

This analysis has brought considerable clarity regarding how Louisiana’s higher education funding formula operates.

The Board of Regents is mandated by the Louisiana Constitution to have a formula which equitably distributes funds to colleges and universities.  This is a difficult task as a result of the variation in role, scope and mission among higher education’s institutions.

I have had discussions with BOR staff including the commissioner, the UL System president and staff, fellow presidents and legislative leaders to present our findings.  I have found all have listened, and I am confident an equitable solution will be found, even in this time of declining revenues. 

Our immediate task, however, is to meet the challenges this current budget poses.  Unfortunately, after multiple reductions over recent years, each additional decrease becomes harder to address.

The deans and vice presidents are working very hard to minimize the impact on our employees, but unfortunately some positions may be lost in order for us to achieve a balanced budget.

Despite all of these challenges, your teaching, research, service to students and community, job performance and dedication to this great university remains exceptional, and I want you to know that I both appreciate and admire your professionalism. 

The financial news has not been positive for quite some time; however, I am optimistic better times are ahead.  I will continue to work tirelessly to promote ULM, seek opportunities for ULM to grow, and diligently support your work.

As I did last year, during University Week, I will present the budget report as well as a state of the university address.

You will receive specific information about this meeting in the near future, and I encourage you to attend the meeting if you can so that you are informed about this important topic.

Thank you for all you do for ULM.  

ULM First!

 

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

July 2, 2012
Memo to campus about new Chief Business Officer

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

Dear Colleagues,

This is to inform you that I have offered the position of Chief Business Officer to Dr. William T. Graves, Ph.D., CPA, and he has accepted.

Dr. Graves currently serves as the Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration for Louisiana Delta Community College.

Prior to that, he served as Comptroller/Director of Accounting at Texas A&M-Commerce.

He also served as a Senior Financial Analyst for the University of Mississippi as well as Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Finance and Administration for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning System Office. 

Dr. Graves received his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Mississippi State University, an MBA from Mississippi College, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership from the University of Mississippi. 

Dr. Graves will join ULM full-time on July 23. 

Thank you. 

 

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

June 26, 2012
Memo to campus about new responsibilities for Dr. Richard Hood

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

Dear Colleagues,

Dr. Richard Hood, Executive Assistant to the President of ULM for the past 15 years, has rejoined the ULM College of Pharmacy, where he was previously Director of Continuing Education.

Dr. Hood will assume the position of Director of Alumni Relations and Development.  Due to continuing budget reductions, it is imperative the ULM and the College of Pharmacy maintain funding levels commensurate with that program’s needs.

To that end, Dr. Hood will assume his new position as of July 1 and assist Dean Blaylock and the ULM foundation in assuring that resources sufficient to keep the College of Pharmacy competitive with the best in the nation are maintained and available. 

I am sure you will agree that Dr. Hood’s personality, commitment to and knowledge of ULM will assure his success in this new role.

I know you will join me in thanking Dr. Hood for his service to the President’s office and the campus and wishing him well in this new endeavor. 

 

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

June 20, 2012
2012-13 Budget Update

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

Dear Colleagues,

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:

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. 

 

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

May 25, 2012
Legislative Update

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

Dear Colleagues,

Please find below the latest report from the UL System on legislative activities.  I have highlighted those of interest to us. 

SB303: The gun bill passed the House (77-22) and now returns to the Senate for concurrence in the House amendments.

SB20: Retiree rehire was signed by the Governor and became ACT 228.  The bill authorizes retirees  to be rehired as adjunct professors without suspending their benefits, as long as their earnings do not exceed 25% of their retirement benefits.

SB583- transfers property from DHH to GSU and LTU was signed by the Governor and became ACT 236.

We are awaiting final actions on the Governor’s retirement package.

The retirement bills SB47 (FAC), SB52 (employee contribution) and SB740 (COLAs) are all pending final passage on the House Floor. 

SB52 was amended in committee to revise amendments which had been adopted on the Senate Floor.  The bill now provides that the phased in increase will not become effective until the employee has received a 4% increase in base pay (as opposed to a 4% merit increase) and further that the increases will be suspended once the systems reach an actuarial funded level of 80%.

SB47 provides for the calculation of the final average compensation.  As it currently stands the bill phases in the increase of three years to five years one month at a time over a two year period beginning July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2015.  Members entering DROP during this period will be subject to 36 months plus the number of months from July 1, 2013 to their DROP entry date.  The bill continues to exempt hazardous duty plan members and K-12 employees.

SB740 provides COLAs for retirees.  The bill proposes two LASERS accounts for hazardous duty and rank and file employees.  COLAs may be granted to hazardous duty members if the investments earnings exceed 8%; but rank and file employees may only be granted COLAs once the system has reached an actuarial funded level of 80%.  The bill proposes two TRSL accounts for higher education members and K-12 members.  COLAs may be granted to K-12 members if the investments earnings exceed 8.25%; but higher education employees may only be granted COLAs once the system has reached an actuarial funded level of 80%.

HB61 (cash balance plan) is pending on the House  Floor for concurrence in the Senate amendments. 

SB749 (Age Eligbility) is still hanging on the Senate “Subject to Call” calendar.  Unless the provisions are amended onto another bill, the proposal appears dead for the session.

We are also awaiting final actions on the appropriation / capital outlay bills

Senate Finance will be meeting on Monday at 9am to discuss and report HB1. 

Senate Reveue and Fiscal Affairs will be meeting  Monday at 2pm to discuss HB2. 

HB3- the Bond Authorization bill- is still pending final passage in the House.

Also of interest, Rep Kleckly and Sen Donahue have both filed a resolution (HR169 and SR128) to authorize the withdrawal of $204.7 million from the Rainy Day Fund to address the revenue shortfall for FY11/12.  The resolutions have not yet been scheduled for debate.

Next week’s schedule:

The Senate will convene Monday, May 28 at 4pm.  
The House will convene Tuesday, May 29 at 1pm.  
Friday, June 1 is the last day for final passage of bills.  
Saturday, June 2 and Sunday, June 3 will be concurrence in amendments and conference  committee reports.
Monday, June 4 will be concurrence in conference committee reports.

 

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

May 16, 2012
Press Release regarding anticipated budget cuts of $12.3 million

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

Dear Colleagues,

Below is a press release from ULM's Office of Public Information.


University of Louisiana at Monroe Faces $12.3 Million Cut

If the budget bill (HB1) currently moving through the Louisiana Legislature is not amended, the University of Louisiana at Monroe is slated to lose $12.3 million in state appropriations. This will bring ULM's total state funding reductions since Fiscal Year 2008/09 to $30.4 million, or 53 percent. As the current budget proposal stands, total reductions in state general fund support for all of higher education since FY 2008/09 would reach $585 million.

ULM President Nick J. Bruno said, "These cuts continue to negatively impact higher education as well as the region we serve. While services to our students will be impacted, the loss of economic value to our region is very significant."

More than 70 percent of the State of Louisiana's operating budget is protected through constitutional or statutory dedications, federal mandates, and unavoidable obligations. Higher education does not enjoy any constitutional protection from cuts. Consequently, when the state faces significant shortfalls, higher education, along with healthcare, takes the brunt of the reductions.

"Higher education has been notified that of the $268 million shortfall in the budget for next year, $134 million will be taken from our allocations," said University of Louisiana System President Randy Moffett.

Over the past four years, reductions to higher education have been mitigated in part by one-time funding and raising tuition and fees. Even with modest increases in tuition over the last few years, it has not been enough to close the gap in funding. Since FY 2008/09, ULM's net total funding reduction would be $19.7 million (22 percent) given the current budget scenario.

Since 2008, ULM has taken several steps to address declining resources, such as reducing top administration, providing incentives for early retirement, furloughing employees, cutting programs, and eliminating almost 200 funded positions. This loss in workforce means staff members are assuming additional responsibilities, and similarly, faculty are voluntarily teaching extra classes without compensation.

The additional loss of $12.3 million may result in impacts to ULM services for the community.

Bruno said, "During the same period, the university has absorbed more than $6.7 million in additional expenses related to mandated costs. While these continued reductions are having an immediate and negative impact on our university and our region, the most significant damage is to our region's future intellectual capital."

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

May 13, 2012
Summary prepared by the UL System staff regarding legislation related to higher education

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

Dear Colleagues,

Following is a summary prepared by the UL System staff regarding legislation related to higher education.  The House of Representatives passed HB1, the budget bill, on Saturday, May 12.  Many amendments were added.

The bill will now be considered by the Senate.  It is certain more amendments will be added before we have a final bill.  It continues to be too early to know the full impact on our budget at this time.  I will continue to keep you informed as this process progresses. 

The respective retirement systems will have the most recent information specific to their programs. 

RETIREMENT

SB47 moves employees from a 3-year to a 5-year final average compensation calculation – the bill was amended to phase in the increase one month at a time over a two year period beginning July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2015.  Members entering DROP during this period will be subject to 36 months plus the number of months from July 1, 2013 to their DROP entry date.  Bill continues to exempt hazardous duty plan members and K-12 employees  The bill required 20 votes for final passage and failed (19-16).  Upon motion to reconsider, the bill passed 23-13.  The bill has passed the Senate and will be heard in House Retirement next Thursday 5/17.

SB52 increases employee contributions  – the bill was amended reduce the increase from the proposed 3% to 2% and to phase in the increase over a four year period by 0.5% each year beginning July 1, 2013 through July 1, 2016.  Bill continues to exempt judges, hazardous duty plan members, and K-12 employees.  The bill is still pending final passage on the Senate Floor- maybe considered on Tuesday.

SB749 increases the retirement eligibility age- the bill was amended to provide the following schedule for all employees (both LASERS AND TRSL) who retire with less than 30 years:
        Age 55 at least 15 but fewer than 20 years
        Age 57 at least 10 but fewer than 15 years
        Age 60 at least 5 but fewer than 10 years
        Age 65 if fewer than 5 years
The bill continues to provide exemptions for judges and hazardous duty plan members as well as the following:
        Members born on or before June 30, 1958
        Members with at least twenty years service credit on June 30, 2013
        Members who retire prior to June 30, 2013
The bill is still pending final passage on the Senate Floor- may be considered on Tuesday.

HB61 provides a cash balance plan for all new employees.  The plan would provide an annual credit of 12% to the member’s account (includes member contributions); provides for an interest credit of the actuarial rate of return less 1% but will not be debit for investment losses- the bill was amended to change the effective date from January 2013 to July 1, 2013; to provide for survivor and disability benefits; provides for the transfer between the cash balance and the defined benefit plan; requires the Division of Administration to conduct a feasibility study for enrollment in Social Security and a cost benefit analysis of providing an increased pay scale for employees required to be in the cash balance plan.  The bill has passed the House and will be heard in Senate Retirement Committee on Monday May 14.

BUDGET

As you are aware there was a serious impasse on the budget discussions beginning Thursday.  House rules adopted last year require a 2/3 vote (70 yeas) in order to consider the appropriation bill if it contains one-time money; the vote failed 51-50.  This afternoon, in order to continue discussions of HB1, the House adopted an amendment that provided for reductions of $350 million to the general operating budget to offset the use of $267 million in one-time funds currently budgeted.  At the time of this email, the House continues to debate the bill.

In addition the following bills are scheduled to be heard next week.

MONDAY 5/14
House Ways and Means
HB2 Capital Outlay Bill

TUESDAY 5/15 
House Education
HB1078 which will be amended to authorize an Education Sustainability Fee up to $25 per student credit hour for the next four academic years (July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2016)
SB290- adds LTU, UNO and Tulane to the LUMCON executive board

House Floor
HB 395/396 increases the authority of Board of Regents through control of policies and funding formula 
HB964- merger of LSU-S and LA Tech

 

 

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

May 11, 2012
Latest update regarding Teacher’s Retirement System

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

Dear Colleagues,

Please find below the latest information for those of you who belong to the Teacher’s Retirement System. 

 

TO: Employers

We’ve just posted on our website new scenarios for how benefit structure legislation would affect current post-secondary education members. Visit the "News and Information” section at www.trsl.org to read this important information.

A complete list of all bills affecting TRSL and its membership is available in our “Legislation” section. Look for more updates on retirement-related bills in the future!

 

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

April 26, 2012
Update on Marketing Committee Initiatives

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

Dear Colleagues,

Members of ULM’s Marketing Committee are in the process of developing a comprehensive, integrated marketing plan for the university to be executed beginning July 1, 2012. This committee is comprised of representatives from a cross-section of our campus including recruitment and admissions, academics, athletics and administration.

The committee has already signed off on the development of a virtual tour, provided feedback on a new homepage design for our upcoming move to a content management system, approved a new social media policy that is currently under review by the staff and faculty senates, and received media buying and creative recommendations from external agents. 

In the upcoming weeks, they will complete a strategic analysis and crafting new policies that will allow us to integrate our marketing messages and formalize our process for developing future promotional materials, both print and digital. As new policies and procedures are implemented, they will be clearly communicated to all.

This is a critical element of my continued goal to position ULM for growth and develop a greater name awareness in the future. To do this, we must standardize our brand and present a consistent image and message in all communications, while allowing for divisional/departmental inclusion.

The committee consists of Ms. Lauren Brownell, Director of Marketing and Committee Chair; Dr. Richard Hood, President's Office; Ms. Robin Taylor, Athletics; Mr. Adam Jonson, Athletics; Mr. Brook Sebren, Auxiliary Enterprises; Ms. Cynthia Rodriguez, College of Education and Human Development; Mr. Lindsey Wilkerson, Office of Public Information; Mr. Chris Mapp, Arts & Sciences; Ms. Christi Bailey, Graphic Services; Mr. Tommy Walpole, Alumni Relations; and Ms. Kelsea McCrary, Recruitment/Admissions.

Please submit any suggestions and/or observations you may have to Lauren Brownell, chair. 

Thank you. 

 

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

April 23, 2012
Legislative Update regarding Retirement Legislation

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

Dear Colleagues,

I received an email today regarding a Legislative Update on action taken by House and Senate during week of April 23.

For those of you who are members of the TRSL here is the latest information for you to follow possible changes in retirement. 

Employers:

We’ve just posted on our website a legislative update regarding action taken by the House and Senate this week. Visit the "News and Information” section at www.trsl.org to read this important information.

A complete list of all bills affecting TRSL and its membership is available in our “Legislation” section. Look for more updates on retirement-related bills in the future!

 

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

April 20, 2012
Additional Information about Retirement Legislation

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

Dear Colleagues,

I received this email today.  Thought I would forward so those of you in the Teachers’ Retirement System might have another resource to learn more about pending legislation. 

 

From: Teachers' Retirement System of Louisiana (TRSL)
Sent: Friday, April 20, 2012 1:45 PM
To: Nick Bruno
Subject: Important information about Senate Bill 749 (retirement age eligibility)

Employers:

We’ve posted important information on our website about Senate Bill 749 that would affect retirement age requirements for certain TRSL members. Visit the “News and Information” section of our website atwww.trsl.org.

A complete list of all bills affecting TRSL and its membership is available in our “Legislation” section. Look for more updates on retirement-related bills in the future!

 

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

April 19, 2012
Information about Retirement Legislation

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

Dear Colleagues,

Following is the text from an email which was prepared by the University of Louisiana staff regarding retirement legislation currently being considered.  This continues to be a complicated bill and there will certainly be more changes.  You should review this carefully and attempt to ascertain how you may be impacted if the bill is passed.

I will continue to provide information as I receive it.  I cannot predict when this may be finalized; however, it appears a final resolution may be reached before the session ends on June 4. 

To: _ULS-ULSNET
Subject: FW: retirement

Good Morning,
I know you all have questions regarding the retirement bill.  At this juncture I can only tell you that all three bills- age 67 eligibility, 3% contribution increase and 5 year FAC all passed out of Senate Retirement Committee last night.

SB51-  The Governor's office offered a substitute bill with a completely revised plan- Unfortunately, no one received a copy of the bill prior to committee, so their testimony was based only on a cursory review of the document.  I don't have a copy so I can't tell you precisely what it includes.  I can tell you only that it provides a phased in approach to the age 67 requirement based on years of service as follows:

  • 25 to 30 years can retire at 55
  • 20-25 years- age 58
  • 15-20 years-age 61
  • 10-15 years-age 64
  • less than 10 years- age 67

The bill removes the exemption for individuals born prior to July 1, 1957 as well as retirees prior to October 12, 2012.  I believe the effective date of the bill would be June 30, 2012.  There was some discussion about the lack of time for employees to analyze the impact of the legislation prior to making retirement decisions between now and June 30.

Further, the Governor's Office testified that the benefits which an individual has accrued to date would be "frozen" and that supplemental benefits would be accrued under the new plan, so for example: a 52 year old employee with 20 years, benefits would be frozen according to the current plan (2.5% x 19 years x 5 year FAC).  I believe that would be an actuarially reduced amount.  The supplemental benefit would require 9 more years employment in order to draw down full benefits (2.5% x 9 years x new 5 year FAC). Anything less than 9 years would result in an actuarially reduced amount(based on age 61).  There were quite a few questions from the members who requested a written analysis to demonstrate that the "existing" benefits would, in fact, not be subject to a reduction under this plan.

Attorneys from both LASERS and TRSL and the Legislative Auditor continued to raise issues of the constitutionality of the plan.  Both retirement systems' attorneys cited debate from the 1974 constitutional convention to substantiate their position.  There was some debate about how long litigation might take to work through the courts and the impact that would have on employees retirement plans in the interim.

SB52 increasing the contribution rate by 3% was amended to clarify the increased revenues will be directed to the UAL instead of the operating budget.

SB47- 5 year FAC no amendments, little discussion.

SB740- the bill as filed allowed COLAs for retired members only in the event the systems were funded at 100%.  The bill was amended in committee to reduce that amount to 80%.

 

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

April 5, 2012
Report of Facilities Master Plan

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

Dear Colleagues,

One of my major goals at our university is to improve the efficiency of our operations. As with every higher education institution in Louisiana, our financial resources are limited. This forces us to prepare and plan for an efficient, useful, and highly sustainable campus. Our employees and our students deserve nothing less.

I formed the Campus Facilities Master Planning Steering Committee, comprised of ULM faculty, staff, as well as a representative from the State Office of Facility Planning and Control.

Committee members include: Paul Karlowitz, Keith Parker, Chris Ringo (Staff Senate representative), Phil Shaw, Larry Ellerman, Camile Currier, Steve Betts, Justin Roy, Bruce Walker (Faculty Senate representative) and Jason Roubique.

We also hired a joint venture of two Louisiana-based firms—Ashe, Broussard, Weinzettle from Alexandria, and Eskew, Dumez, Ripple from New Orleans—to develop one unified campus facilities master plan for the university. We have approximately $350,000 in state capital outlay to fund the creation of this plan.

It is my hope that the proposal will increase efficiencies related to time, money and location. That plan will most likely include recommendations for the physical relocation of some departments to maximize accessibility to the university and external communities. The campus facilities master planning effort will also includes an analysis of vehicular and pedestrian traffic and recommendations to improve accessibility of campus facilities.

The proposal also will incorporate the prioritization of future infrastructure improvement projects and an analysis of existing infrastructures.

The master plan document, which should be completed by March 2013, will be created based on information gathered in three phases. In the first phase—acquisition and facilities assessment—the firm will gather information about the conditions of ULM’s facilities and how those facilities are utilized.

The firm will interview and seek input from department heads and personnel from each entity on campus.

In the second phase—analysis and preliminary plan components—the firm will work with the steering committee in examining where various departments should be housed, based on variables such as enrollment trends. The steering committee also will seek input from the community for the master planning process.

In the final phase—master plan, design standards, and cost development—the firm will present a draft of the master plan to the steering committee and will begin to assemble some budget estimates for the proposed moves and capital improvements.

I would also like to share with you some renovation plans already in existence—plans that are separate from the upcoming master plan. Sandel Hall, which will undergo renovation in early 2013, will be an example of a more efficient operation. The renovations to Sandel will accommodate several departments and offices that are integral to students beginning their academic careers at ULM. Sandel will be a “one-stop-shop” for students, and will have the offices of recruitment and admissions, financial aid, testing, bookstore, registrar and other student services. 

The Chemistry and Natural Sciences Building will receive a major HVAC upgrade beginning around July 1. Our popular Museum of Natural History will be relocated to the first two floors of a renovated Hanna Hall.

Several of our residence halls will also receive facelifts. In Madison Hall, we will resurface the parking lot and install bathroom locks and an emergency intercom system.

In Masur Hall, we will make door, staircase, and guard rail improvements, resurface the parking lot, and improve the landscaping.

My goal is that ULM has the most efficient, effective, and attractive facilities of any university in the state.

I hope all of you have an enjoyable spring break.

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

April 3, 2012
Link to Legislative Auditor's request for a legal opinion regarding recent retirement legislation

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

Dear Colleagues,

You may have recently read that the Legislative Auditor had requested a legal opinion regarding the recent retirement legislation.

Click on this link for a copy of the report.

An opinion such as this one, while providing a perspective based upon the writer’s research, only the court can rule as to the constitutionality of any legislation.

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

March 29, 2012
Executive Order of Expenditure Freeze from Governor Jindal's office

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

Dear Colleagues,

I want to provide you an update on fiscal matters as they apply to our university.  First, following is a link to the governor’s most recent Executive Order which freezes spending.  This is similar to the freeze instituted last year.

We will certainly comply with the order; however, we are allowed to continue to spend for critical areas such as our clinics, and operating services.  Dr. Pani has notified the deans and other academic heads of this action and we will begin to identify those allowable expenditures. 

Executive Order No. BJ 2012-3: "Executive Branch - Expenditure Freeze", has been issued.

Second, our current proposed budget for the year beginning July 1, 2012 indicates a reduction of approximately $2 million from our current funding will be experienced, with an additional increase in mandated costs of approximately $500 thousand.

Of course we will not know our exact budget until the legislative session ends in June, so these preliminary numbers could change.  This also assumes that our current student population remains constant.  Preliminary information from admissions is that both applications and admissions for fall 2012 are up.  As our enrollment grows, such reductions will be minimized. 

Dr. Pani has met with the deans regarding the budget, and I assure you plans will allow for input from all areas of our campus.  I am not a proponent of across the board reductions.  Therefore, reduction will be made consistent to the state’s funding formula will be utilized as much as possible. 

Unfortunately, I cannot provide you more information on another matter that is of interest to us all.  That is the retirement legislation.  There are many questions surrounding the proposed legislation that I am sure will be asked as these bills are heard.  However, all are in agreement that to preserve the integrity of our retirement systems, some changes will probably be considered.

As further developments in these areas take place, I will keep you apprised.  Thank you for your continued commitment to ULM. 

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

March 16, 2012
Announcement of Events Management Group and new Online Events Calendar

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

Dear Colleagues,

Since my arrival at ULM 15 months ago, I’ve attended—and enjoyed—a multitude of campus events, ranging from the arts to athletics. In recognizing the value of these events, I also saw an opportunity to maximize their effectiveness.

I realized these events possessed significant potential in showcasing the very best of our university. To assist our employees in securing the greatest possible attendance and the most appropriate facility for their events, I formed a small committee called the Events Management Group, or EMG. 

Many of our events with university-wide impact have conflicted with one another in the past, preventing our internal and external community from enjoying all that our institution has to offer. The EMG is charged with addressing that challenge. This committee will review the details of proposed ULM events, ensure that events do not conflict, and make certain each event has equal opportunity to achieve its potential. 

To address this challenge, the EMG will utilize software called Event Management System, or EMS. University events will be submitted online through this new system. Organizers of university events should submit their events only after communicating with the appropriate department chair or director.

Interim Computing Center Director Chance Eppinette will issue an email to our campus community later today, explaining this process in greater detail. I appreciate his diligence and that of Special Events Coordinator Priscilla Turner, Student Life Assistant Dean Nathan Hall and Media Relations Director Laura Woodard.  All of them have worked hard during the past year to ensure this new event planning policy is successful.

To learn more about the policy, I encourage you to visit:
www.ulm.edu/universityrelations/policy/events_planning.html

ULM events allow us an opportunity to strengthen ULM's reputation of excellence and ensure significant visibility within our greater community. Your cooperation will make all the difference in this new initiative and is appreciated.

Thank you in advance.

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

March 15, 2012
Announcement of updated ULM tobacco policy

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

Dear Colleagues,

Prior to my arrival at ULM, Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, and the Student Government Association—drafted a tobacco use policy pertaining to our campus. Upon review of their proposal, I suggested several revisions resulting in the final policy, which is included below.

The policy, effective April 2, reflects our collaboration. You may also view it here:
www.ulm.edu/tobaccouse.

I applaud the diligence of our campus leaders and their efforts in ensuring a healthy campus for our university community. I will be communicating with you again during the next several days concerning some additional news.

Tobacco Use Policy
The use of tobacco products is prohibited in all University buildings and leased spaces.  This prohibition applies to any area enclosed by the perimeter (outermost) walls of the building, including restrooms, storage areas, balconies, stairwells (enclosed and exterior), courtyards, and fenced in areas connected to a building as well as any other similar building features that are considered to be “a portion of a building," except where otherwise stated. This prohibition also includes exterior spaces.

Tobacco use is prohibited on the portion of the campus west of Bayou DeSiard (including the College of Pharmacy on Bienville). Any tobacco products west of Bayou DeSiard must be confined to personal vehicles.

East of Bayou DeSiard, tobacco use is permitted only within designated areas and in the Grove. Designated areas are defined as outdoor areas not less than 35 feet from any building entrance or window.

The use of tobacco products is prohibited in outdoor areas where seating is provided (stadium seating, benches etc.).

Specified areas for tobacco use are identified on a campus map and with appropriate signage. You can view the map at www.ulm.edu/tobaccouse/campus_east.html

Disposal of used tobacco products (butts, spittoon contents, dip wads, etc) in anything other than appropriate trash bins will be considered littering, counter to campus beautification efforts, and subject to appropriate fines.

The use of tobacco products is prohibited in all University vehicles. This prohibition applies to all licensed and unlicensed vehicles owned, leased, and rented by the University.

The sale, distribution, or advertisement of tobacco products is prohibited in University buildings and public areas.

Vice presidents, deans, directors, and department heads are responsible for ensuring that staff, students, visitors, and contractors are made aware of this policy, and that they comply with its requirements. Existing disciplinary policies may be used as appropriate. 

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


 

February 16, 2012
Update on various campus initiatives, enrollment, budget

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

Dear Colleagues,

I wanted to provide you information as to my actions since my presentation during University Week. I hope your semester is going well. Thank you for all your efforts on behalf of ULM and our students.


1. Vice President for Academic Affairs

A search committee has been formed, and Dr. Benny Blaylock is serving as chair.  The following individuals have agreed to serve on that committee: Dr. Anthony Walker, Pharmacy; Dr. Benny Blaylock, Pharmacy; Dr. Charles Holloway, Arts & Sciences; Chris Ringo, Staff Senate; Dr. Don Smith, Library; Dr. Keith Parker, Business Administration; Patti Calk, Health Sciences; Paula Griswold, Health Sciences; Rebecca Stephenson, Arts & Sciences; Shannon Banks, Pharmacy; Dr. Stanley Williamson, Business Administration; Dr. Thomas Junk, Faculty Senate; Dr. Wendel Ray, Education and Human Development; and Dr. Wilson Campbell, Education and Human Development.

The deadline for priority consideration has been set for March 1, with a goal to appoint the Vice President by July 1. Dr. Blaylock informed me yesterday that he has received 7 applications thus far. You will be kept informed of their progress.

2. Distance Education

Since arriving I have heard numerous comments relative to our distance learning process. These comments, as well as discussions with faculty and administrators, indicated that it would be beneficial for us to step back and review ULM's distance learning strategy.

I requested that Interim Vice President Pani halt all development of distance courses except for those which required that existing online degree programs already in development continue so as not to delay student progress. Dr. Ron Berry agreed to chair a committee to evaluate our current process/strategy and provide recommendations that will allow us to offer the very best distance learning program possible.

Serving on this committee are: Dr. Ron Berry, College of Business Administration; Dr. Harper Gaushell, Education and Human Development; Dr. Ralph Brown, Arts & Sciences; Dr. David Caldwell, Pharmacy; Mr. Andy Allen, Health Sciences; and Ms. Janis Weber, Business Administration.

3.  Marketing Committee

A critical need for our university is to develop and implement a marketing plan.  We must standardize our brand so that we are not always using three or four different visual representations of ULM.  Increasing our name recognition, first throughout our state, and then throughout portions of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Texas is also important.

I have established a marketing committee, which Laura Brownell will chair, and members include Dr. Richard Hood, President's Office; Ms. Robin Taylor, Athletics; Mr. Adam Jonson, Athletics; Mr. Brook Sebren, Auxiliary Enterprises; Ms. Cynthia Rodriguez, College of Education and Human Development; Mr. Lindsey Wilkerson, Office of Public Information; Mr. Chris Mapp, Arts & Sciences; Ms. Christi Bailey, Graphic Services; and Ms. Kelsea McCrary, Recruitment/Admissions.

4. ULM Athletics

This is another area that is frequently discussed by both our internal and external constituents. Mr. Bobby Staub and I have discussed the need to do a thorough self-study to determine what challenges and opportunities exist in order to formulate a strategy for success. The budget reductions over the last several years have impacted our athletic program, as it has other areas of our university.

Since this area is so important to our external constituents, as well as our public relations and recruitment efforts, we must explore how we can maximize our opportunities for success. A committee, primarily of external stakeholders will be formed shortly to begin that review.

5. The ULM Foundation

Our Foundation recently hired Mr. Larry Simpson as its new Executive Director. Mr. Simpson is meeting with alumni, business leaders, and our deans to formulate a strategy to increase support to our university so that we can advance our mission.

6. Enrollment

This spring's enrollment reflects the following compared to spring 2011 counts: total headcount down 1.6% or 128 students. Spring headcount is 7792.  Our graduate and professional student count is up by 56 students.  You should be aware that we adjusted our policy regarding fee payment. Prior to fall 2011, students who registered but had not paid their fees were not dropped from classes.

In fall 2011, students were dropped for non-payment. Unfortunately, this change in policy does not allow us to compare accurately student counts to the prior year. Despite that lack of consistent data, it appears our enrollment continues to stabilize and those targeted areas, such as graduate programs, are showing growth. This next fall will allow us to compare and evaluate the effectiveness of our recruitment and retention efforts more fairly.

7. Lastly, the Budget

As you have no doubt read or heard, the governor's budget provides that higher education would remain at this year's funding, after our mid-year reduction if a number of other bills were to be passed by the legislature. As you know, the legislative process will be long, and considerable debate will ensue throughout the term of the session. It is too early to predict the eventual outcome.

Therefore, our fiscal planning process will continue throughout the respective university divisions and will allow for input and feedback. We must plan for the worst and pray for the best. As I have repeatedly said, we must all work tirelessly to recruit and retain students. This is within our control and success in those areas will minimize the negative impact any state funding shortfall will have.

In closing, I met with our legislative delegation last week and shared the data I shared with you during University Week. I wanted them to see the impact and magnitude of reductions sustained by our university over the last three years.

They understand the impact these reductions have had not only on our university, but also on our region. I shared with them your numerous personal and organizational accomplishments that continue to occur despite these reductions.

Thank you again for your hard work and dedication to this great institution.  I know it is difficult to maintain a positive attitude with all of the day-to-day pressure our economic conditions place upon our university, and upon you personally.

Although I cannot predict what we will face over the next several months and maybe years, I can predict that this university will continue to strive and grow because of you.

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President


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