A season for special sessions
In a typical year, the week following Spring Commencement is pretty light with most faculty and students being away from campus. I usually go into a little bit of a withdrawal missing all of our students being around campus, but it is a good opportunity to have a little time to reflect and plan for the next year.
This is not a typical year. Our legislature has continued to meet in special sessions to resolve the financial challenges faced by the State of Louisiana. Higher education has been threatened with a cut in state funding that, although smaller cuts than we have had over the past decade, could create significant challenges for us as we try to serve our growing student body. Our request has been to keep higher ed funding stable for next year. And just as important, we have requested that funding for the TOPS program not be reduced. That scholarship program has been promised to current and prospective students, and to reduce that funding at this point would be unfair and would fall hardest on our first-generation students and rural students who often have few alternatives for financing. I am also very concerned about the impacts on recruitment and the threats we face from out-of-state schools who are aggressively recruiting Louisiana’s top students. The legislative session wraps up on Monday and there are meetings all week-end that will hopefully produce a positive outcome for higher education. I remain optimistic.
I have spent quite a bit of time in Baton Rouge over the past couple of weeks. ULS President Jim Henderson and my fellow ULS presidents have been around the Capitol providing information about the importance of higher education. While there, I have had the opportunity to visit with a lot of colleagues from across the state and attend a few special events.
In the few days that I have been on campus, I have spent time budget planning and meeting with my administrative team. I have also been keeping up with many of the construction projects around campus.
Here are a few of my favorite pics for the week.