Loyola University President Touts $11.5M Savings Plan

Rev. Kevin Wm. Wildes, S.J., Ph.D.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Faced with trying to win the support of disgruntled faculty members, Loyola University New Orleans President the Rev. Kevin Wildes has announced that he is planning to slice the university's spending by $11.5 million over the next five years.

         Wildes estimates Loyola would actually need to cut $25 million from its budget over the same period, but he hopes to fill that gap with tuition money and by lifting enrollment, The New Orleans Advocate’s Jessica Williams reports.

         "My plan is to grow, rather than to cut our way out of this," Wildes wrote in the plan released to faculty last week.

         Loyola's faculty has largely backed the new budget proposal, having been consulted about the details before they were announced. But their feelings are mixed about whether Wildes should be the man to carry it out, with some pushing for a "no-confidence" vote. Wildes has been the school's president since 2004.

         On Nov. 19, the University Senate decided to postpone a vote on Wildes' leadership until January.

         Wildes' budget plan calls for eliminating 11 programs, which should save the university $550,000 annually. On the chopping block are grant programs for faculty research and training, some night academic programs and faculty stipends.

         Connie Rodriguez, who chairs the classical studies department, has criticized Wildes for being "totally hands-off with faculty."

         For Rodriguez and others who advocated denouncing their boss, it boils down to trust. There is a $13.5 million budget gap that must be closed by 2021, and they aren't sure they trust Wildes to effectively close it, absent more morale-lowering cuts.

         "To be really quite honest with you, absolutely no one knows if this (plan) is going to work," Rodriguez said.

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