Friday, November 18, 2005

Katrina hits Louisiana universities hard.

The first rough sketch of higher education's plan to deal with $138 million in lost tuition and funding cuts includes funneling more students into community colleges but lacks details on looming layoffs.

About 2,100 university faculty and staff positions may be eliminated, according to each system's preliminary estimates. But where the jobs will be cut and what types of workers will be let go is still undetermined.
The effects of these cuts will last for years, maybe for decades. Louisiana will lose some of its most experienced teachers, as well as its promising young teachers. What young faculty member will want to commit his or her career to a state that barely funds higher education even in good times? Now that the bad times have come, and look to stay around for five or ten years, young faculty will be searching for positions elsewhere and older faculty will retire. It's simply in their best interest to do so. Those losses will set back Louiana's higher education system for decades. Any hope that it will become competitive with others in the south will be gone for good, as other systems increase salaries for teachers, and we struggle to barely stay even. Louisiana universities will be gutted, like the houses in the Ninth Ward, victims of nature and of long-standing neglect. The state will suffer as its life blood, its young people, trickles away to other states with more opportunity for education.

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