Board Of Regents Holds 6th Annual Trusteeship Conference

BATON ROUGE – Higher education system leaders gathered Monday, February 22, 2016, for the 6th Annual Board of Regents’ Trusteeship Conference held at Pennington. 

         This one- day conference focused on current trends and strategies in higher education that will help navigate fundamental changes. The agenda consisted of presentations and panel discussions featuring the system presidents and staff, legislators, and national experts who conveyed the importance of Louisiana’s role in keeping pace with the evolving trends in higher education.

         Opening remarks were made by Regents Chair, Richard Lipsey, who provided an overview of the budget as it stands currently:

 

         “As all of you are well aware, we are presently treading in VERY rough waters now as it relates to Louisiana’s fiscal affairs. More specifically, our higher education institutions are bracing for cuts ranging from $232M as the worst case scenario and $71M as a best case scenario for the current year, including $28M allocated for TOPS. On either end of the spectrum- these cuts will greatly impact higher education, which is already severely weakened from the repetitive cuts over the last 8 years.

         “In addition to the budget challenges, many of our schools are plagued with simply trying to keep the doors open due to an array of problems with their facilities.  Collectively, Louisiana colleges and universities have unprecedented deferred maintenance needs, which are approaching $2B dollars!  So not only are our institutions trying to keep students in the classrooms – they are also having to maintain the classrooms in order to teach the students – and the funding for this simply isn’t there- and hasn’t been for years!”

 

         Additional discussions ranged from higher education governance, to better access, quality and outcomes.

         Several Legislators also served as panelists for an afternoon discussion on higher education’s budgetary challenges. Council for a Better Louisiana President, Barry Erwin, served as moderator, and asked the panelists about the realization of a long-term solution, which provides stability for higher education’s budget. “When will it become clear that we have a long term solution so that institutions can really plan?” asked Erwin.

         Speaker of the House, Taylor Barras responded, “I believe that we will all have a clearer picture at the end of this session when we have measured the appetite of revenue vs. cuts.” 

         He also added that budgetary reform efforts will be ongoing conversations and a true attempt to offer stability to Louisiana’s budget.

          Senator Eric LaFleur added that major tax changes will be difficult to push through in three weeks, but they have to look at credits and rebates and make policy recommendations that are most impactful for the state.

 

 

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