By Robert Mann
Forgive me if I sound like the rooster who thought the sun rose because he crowed. But I wonder if Saturday’s unusual joint statement by the LSU Board of Supervisors had anything at all to do with my Friday NOLA.com column, which called on the next governor to demand its members’ resignations for their failure to defend the university from Gov. Bobby Jindal’s devastating budget cuts?
The LSU Board rarely issues joint statements on a Saturday, so I’m guessing its members were more than a little irked by my column and, also, got a little heat from true LSU supporters who wonder why they are so afraid to rebuke Jindal and his budget policies, which threaten the very existence of the university.
Perhaps some of their friends and colleagues started asking, What’s up? Why are you so fearful of Jindal? Isn’t the future of LSU worth more than your football tickets and scholarships?
Whatever the case, board Chair Ann Duplessis issued the following statement on behalf of her colleagues, which, strangely, is not on the LSU Board’s website (as of 3:30 p.m. Saturday).
The entire LSU Board of Supervisors stands solidly with President King Alexander, students, the entire higher education community and concerned citizens in expressing our collective anxiety and concern relative to the potentially devastating cuts facing our colleges and universities starting July 1. On March 20, the LSU Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in support of stopping these crippling cuts and for the autonomy to operate our institutions to the benefit of our valued students and our state (www.lsusystem.edu). Prior to the board’s resolution, our members met with the Governor and his staff, and individually with legislators and business leaders, in advocating for restoration of funding and in support of solutions that will ensure a stable, growing source of funding for higher education and remove the funding uncertainty and volatility experienced over the past several years. Our efforts will continue until we get a satisfactory resolution, as anything less is simply unacceptable for the state’s flagship university.
We recognize that the national recession and changes in the state’s revenue forecast required everyone to tighten their belts and adopt efficiencies and cost-saving practices. LSU is leaner and more nimble as a result, while still out-performing our peers on many measures. Indeed, we have undergone more changes in the past two years than ever before, adopting recommendations made by a panel of experts with input from the LSU staff and faculty. However, our efforts are only effective when coupled with a stable, reliable source of state support. Without such, our performance will suffer and the value of an LSU degree will only deteriorate.
All 16 members of the Board of Supervisors representing the entire state of Louisiana are united in our call for restoration of funding and we will continue to use our collective experience and ability to access key policy makers to advance LSU’s position. Individually, members of the LSU Board of Supervisors are not interested in seeking the media spotlight, but rather we are investing our time and energy in seeking solutions that will make a difference for LSU and its students. President Alexander as our chosen leader is empowered to publicly advocate our collective position and he has the full faith and support of our board as he represents all of LSU in efforts to reverse these projected cuts.
Anxiety and concern??
Gents and lady, I hate to tell you this, but anxiety and concern are emotions you should have expressed six years ago, when state appropriations made up about 60 percent of the school’s budget. Today, it’s 13 percent. If Jindal’s additional budget cuts take effect, that number will plummet to 2 percent and the university will cease to exist.
Anxiety and concern is what I feel as I’m teaching my teenager daughter to drive.
The proper responses to what Jindal and the legislature are doing to LSU is fury, outrage and disgust.
As for your endorsement of Alexander, I’m certain he is profoundly gratified by your bold, courageous expression of support for his position and for your “anxiety and concern.”
If this is what passes for leadership — or dissent — in the Jindal administration, God help us all. The situation is more dire than I imagined.