higher education

“You have to remember what you may be losing in the higher education system as you go into deeper cuts,” warns Public Affairs Research Council president Robert Travis Scott.

Scott addressed the Baton Rouge Press Club Monday, focusing on PAR’s new report, “Innovation in Louisiana”, which analyzes state support for university research programs. Those programs bring in grant money up front, and licensing revenue from patents for years afterwards. Scott notes that continued state budget cuts to higher education are impacting the amounts and numbers of research grants Louisiana’s universities are able to access.

Legislators Urged To Support Higher Ed

Mar 30, 2015

Legislators, city officials, and business leaders spoke to University of Louisiana at Monroe students, faculty, and community members about proposed cuts to the state's public colleges and universities.  The forum was hosted by the ULM Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, and Student Government Association.

The sciences are tough enough. For students of color, studying science, technology, engineering or math can be particularly daunting.

At LSU over the last decade and then some, Isiah Warner has been leading efforts to help those students make it from high school all the way through graduate school. And it seems to be working.

The graduation rate for African American undergrads who’ve gotten scholarships and mentorship through a program called La-STEM is 86 percent — by comparison, it was just 60 percent for the LSU campus overall among last spring’s cohort.

Warner is now Vice Chancellor of Strategic Initiatives and Boyd Professor of analytical and environmental chemistry.

As an African American growing up in Bunkie, his enthusiasm for science was unusual — to say the least.

Imagine this: it’s a cool autumn Saturday night, and there’s no football in Tiger Stadium. In fact, there’s no LSU football at all, because the state’s flagship university is closed for the year. LSU System President F. King Alexander says the possibility is real.

“This budget reduction is so large, we’d have to furlough everybody for an entire year,” Alexander told the Baton Rouge Press Club Monday.

The Louisiana Community and Technical College System awarded former Governor Mike Foster the Inaugural Murphy J. “Mike” Foster Award for Extraordinary Contributions to Community and Technical Colleges in Louisiana last week at the annual conference for Louisiana’s community and technical colleges. Named in his honor, Governor Foster was presented with the award for his leadership and vision in creating the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.

At first, it seemed as though everyone was breathing a sigh of relief, as the 2016 executive budget proposal unveiled last week did not slash higher education as deeply as expected.

“The true reduction to higher education is $211.3 million,” Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols told the Joint Budget Committee last Friday.

But Nichols went on to admit that number is built on “ifs” and “maybes” that include capping the business inventory tax credit, as well as asking college students to pay what the administration is calling an “excellence fee”.

Laine Kaplan-Levenson / WWNO

Governor Jindal announced his proposal Friday afternoon to close a $1.6 billion shortfall for the budget year that begins July 1, 2015. The University of New Orleans was originally expecting a $17 million budget cut. 

Proposed cuts at UNO are now supposed to be around $10 million, less than expected. Still, nobody’s happy about it.

A Health Blog / Flickr

University of New Orleans computer science professor Stephen Ware is the recipient of a two-year $138,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to create artificial intelligence systems that integrate computer reasoning with the human art of storytelling.

WWNO’s Tech & Innovation Reporter Janaya Williams recently spoke with Ware about his Narrative Intelligence Lab at UNO, and the challenge of teaching computers how to “think” more like human beings.

“It’s horrible. It’s as bad as we’ve seen, for sure.”

Barry Erwin, president of the Council for a Better Louisiana, says the budget cuts looming ahead for Louisiana’s public colleges and universities are nothing short of brutal.

“We’re talking about three, four, five hundred million—they’re saying—in one year? That is an insurmountable obstacle for these schools.”

Erwin attended Monday’s meeting between governing board members for all of the state’s higher education systems, and some influential lawmakers. With the governor’s budget proposal due to be unveiled Friday, all are asking the same question: How bad will it be?


“Who will starve, and who will get some breadcrumbs?”

That’s the question Southeastern Louisiana University professor Dayne Sherman — and many others — are asking, as Louisiana colleges and universities have been told to expect up to $400-million in cuts for the next fiscal year. That amounts to 40 percent of their current state funding.


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