Year in Review: NELA Higher Education Struggles

We take a look back at the struggles of NELA colleges this year.

MONROE/GRAMBLING -- State budget cuts were not kind to universities in 2013.
In fact, the leaders of some North Louisiana colleges were calling this current climate an emergency.

"Grambling is now operating in a financial emergency,"said Grambling State University President, Dr. Frank Pogue, back in August.

"We're looking at about $1.9 million below where we were budgeted last year," ULM President, Dr. Nick Bruno, said in August.

ULM reported losing a total of $24 million from the state since 2009 while GSU reported losing more than half of their state operating support.

"Imagine what that feels like, that 57% of what you relied on gone away," GSU Director of Media Relations, Will Sutton, said in October.

With those cuts, both universities were forced to make hard choices going into the fall.

"We have to look at options as it relates to 'OK, do we outsource some things? Are we going to have to lay off?'" Bruno said.

"If it means laying people off, we'll have to do it. If it means closing programs, we have done it and we will continue to do it," said Pogue.

Bruno said if nothing changed, he would put a new $1.5 million reduction plan into action, which could lead to layoffs.

Nothing changed and in October, 25 positions were cut from the Home of the Warhawks.

"To watch people every day, who are working as hard as they can, that are giving everything they've got, and yet all of what's transpiring's out of our hands," said Bruno.

ULM's colleges were also consolidated into just three new colleges:  Arts Education and Sciences, Health and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Business and Social Sciences, all to take effect January 2014.

That brings us to today and maybe some good news.

In October, Governor Bobby Jindal reported a $163 million state surplus from last year.

Auditors still have to confirm that, but Bruno said he's hopeful, saying:

"It is encouraging to hear that higher education may be considered in the allocation of the additional revenues collected by the state."

Only time will tell if that's what happens.
ArkLaMiss college leaders said all they can do is hope.

"Whatever it takes to keep Grambling going for at least another 112 years, we will do it," Pogue said.

"If a solution is not found, then not only the region but the state will suffer from what I would call a significant loss in intellectual capital," Bruno said.

"The bottom line is: We need money," said Sutton.

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