By: Patrap , 5:43 PM GMT on April 22, 2012
LSU Flagship, Medical & Nursing Schools Threatened by Budget Cuts
Posted on May 15, 2012 in News
BATON ROUGE—LSU System President William L. Jenkins on Tuesday said pending state budget cuts of $97.6 million to the LSU System, in a worst-case scenario, could cause some LSU campuses to immediately seek financial exigency, force closure of the LSU Medical School in Shreveport as well as the LSU Nursing School in New Orleans while seriously threatening the status of LSU A&M as Louisiana’s Flagship University.
In addition, Jenkins said, the university system could be forced to immediately impose major personnel and program cutbacks, such as ending the LSU Health Science Center’s Rural Scholars Track program that trains physicians for areas with poor access to health care.
An estimated 645 LSU System employees could be laid off statewide and an additional 676 could be furloughed for indefinite periods. Thousands of students also could see their degree programs ended. A closure of LSU’s Shreveport medical school and the LSU Nursing School alone could affect more than 975 nursing students in New Orleans and 462 medical students in Shreveport.
At the LSU Health Care Services Division, which is facing a $24.5 million reduction in state funding for its 10 hospitals and 500 physician clinics, LSU System Vice President for Health Care and Medical Education, says inpatient hospital and emergency beds will be taken out of service; operating suites shut down; mental health emergency rooms closed; in-patient psychiatric services ended and multiple specialty clinics shut down statewide. The reductions will mean a projected loss of $80.6 million in federal matching funds.
Including net changes to alternative means of financing like statutory dedications, interagency transfers, and self-generated revenues such as tuition and fees, the overall impact of pending reductions for the LSU System would be almost $103 million.
“While we hope none of these cuts become a reality,” Jenkins said, “the truth is that if the Legislature doesn’t reconsider these reductions, we could be forced to quickly impose a series of appalling cuts to our institutions, without the kind of careful planning and deliberation that takes into account the long-range consequences of such radical actions.”
Flagship Campus Chancellor Mike Martin put it more directly in a memo to Jenkins about the impact of possibly losing an additional $43 million in state money for his campus, writing, “Declaring financial exigency is a last resort of a genuine crisis. Still, under the Board of Supervisors definition of exigency, the campus may have qualified for a declaration already. It’s imperative we step back from this impending disaster.”
In a follow up message to Jenkins, Martin added, “Once exigency is implemented, several colleges will have to be closed and LSU will be forever different. This is a generational decision; it would take decades to repair the damage done to our students, faculty, and reputation. LSU would immediately experience a decline in enrollment and retention and graduation rates will decrease within a few years.”
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