Search
| ,
| RSS | |

SECTIONS:

 

Arts · Politics · Crime
· Sports · Food ·
· Opinion · NOLA ·
Lagniappe

 
THE

Defender Picks

 

Swimming With the Sharks

Marigny Musings: Jindal looks at Consolidating SUNO & UNO



    No one will ever confuse me as being a card carrying supporter of our current governor, Bobby jindal. Just a search through the archives of NolaDefender will unearth such prior Musings’gems such as Jindal as “Where’s Waldo” and sarcastic spins on Jindal’s idea to balance Louisiana’s billion dollar plus budget shortfall by selling state buildings. But, in an effort to heed President Obama’s gracious appeal to al of us to treat each other in a kinder manner, I was pleasantly surprised (actually, shocked), at the governor’s most recent proposal regarding the state of higher education in Louisiana.

 

     For once, stretching his massive political clout in this state, and wading into waters that would make even the blood thirstiest shark unnerved, Jindal has proposed that Southern University of New Orleans and the University of New Orleans be merged, and further that the consolidated school be moved to governance under the University of Louisiana system, as opposed to the Board of Regents’ system that presently governs each (the LSU system for the former and the Southern system for the latter). How daring is this proposal? Consider that SUNO’s student body is predominantly minority and that UNO’s political allies are still fuming over Jindal’s perceived heavy handedness in sacking the school’s former chancellor and placing the school under an interim chancellor, who also happens to be the president of the Board of Regents for the LSU system (whose focus is primarily placed upon the needs of the state’s flagship school LSU in Baton Rouge). In essence, in one fell swoop, Jindal has managed to enrage not only minorities who want to save a long cherished cultural institution, but also local political leaders who are counted amongst the alumni of UNO.

 

     Setting aside the emotions that are understandably flamed when alumni fear the demise of their school, Jindal’s proposal bears merit. Both schools have experienced massive post-Katrina drop-offs in their respective student bodies, and their graduation rates are alarmingly low. With every institution of higher education in this state facing yet another round of funding woes by virtue of state budget cuts, the principle of the economy of scale will be well served by combining these two universities, in order to eliminate otherwise needless duplicated services, and also to provide the consolidated entity with budgetary capital worthy of a university.

 

     Notwithstanding the praise that is to be afforded to Jindal for this proposal, it still falls short of curing the root problems that plague Louisiana’s higher education system. For a state of our population size, the presence of sixteen public institutions of higher education is an extravagance that is well beyond our meager means.  There are far too many regional schools in this state, and schools whose historical status of providing educational opportunities for minorities, despite the fact that they are located in areas with a majority minority population. Furthermore, austere economic times in Louisiana axiomatically result in the budget axe striking the neck of these schools, given the vagaries of our state’s constitution and the protected status it affords to the budgets of all state services, except for higher education and public health.  For a popular sitting governor who may well be re-elected to a second term without any opposition (at this relatively late date, no challengers from either party have emerged, and none seem likely given the $12 million plus election warchest that Jindal has amassed), it still is puzzling why Jindal has not gone further with this proposal, and sought the consolidation of other state schools.  While consolidations on a more massive scale would undoubtedly engender increased pockets of local opposition, there is little doubt that the needs of the state, and the student bodies of many of these schools, would best be served by leveraging available state funds into a reduced number of schools. Through such efforts, the emerging campuses will be in a better financial position to recruit larger student bodies and actually attain a respectable graduation rate.

 

     Come on Bobby. You took the small step and put your toe in the water. Now its time to dive in the rest of the way. The sharks are circling, but now is the time for you to actually exhibit the leadership that you wrote about in your self penned tome.

 

Paul McRamble is Op-Ed columnist. The opinions expressed in Marigny Musings are strictly his own, and do not reflect views of the NOLA Defender.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here and we will link to it for you. (please include http://).
eg. http://www.kirkdesigns.co.uk
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
French Market
view counter
view counter
view counter
Advertise With Us Here
view counter
view counter
Follow Us on Facebook
view counter
Erin Rose
view counter
view counter
view counter


Contributors

Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Alexis Manrodt, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde

Photographers


Art Director

Michael Weber, B.A.

Editor


Listings Editor

Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

Alexis Manrodt


B. E. Mintz


Stephen Babcock

Published Daily