higher education

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.

Northwestern State University in Natchitoches released an active shooter training video Tuesday. The 15-minute video, produced entirely in house, took a year and a half to complete, according to NSU officer Jon Caliste who headed up the project.

“We saw a rise in active shooter events around the country and we said to ourselves, we need to have something that we can train our people on. It was born from that,” Caliste said.

It’s getting easier for students to transfer from Delgado Community College to Loyola University.

The New Orleans Advocate reports the two schools signed a deal that allows students who complete prescribed courses in any of 10 programs at Delgado to transfer their credits to one of 28 programs at Loyola.

Eligible Delgado programs include accounting, business administration, criminal justice, fine arts, humanities, mass communication, social science, biological sciences and physical sciences.

Louisiana’s new commissioner of higher education has been on the job for less than a week, but Joe Rallo is out of Baton Rouge and traveling around north Louisiana meeting with college presidents and business groups for what he calls a “listening and learning tour.”