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August 7, 2012

Dr. Nick J. BrunoA message to ULM faculty and staff from ULM President Nick J. Bruno

Dear Colleagues,

ULM serves an important role, not just in northeastern Louisiana, but throughout the state.  We are navigating financial challenges together while maintaining the role, scope, and mission of our university.  Additionally, we are surpassing many of our GRAD Act targets for improved performance and accountability.

We are focused on meeting the workforce demands of our region by graduating well-educated nurses, accountants, pharmacists, teachers, social workers, and a wide variety of other professionals in record numbers. This focus has been and will continue to be at the forefront of our minds as we make difficult decisions.

Despite facing these unprecedented financial challenges, our university remains dynamic and financially strong as evidenced by Moody’s Investors Service’s affirmation of ULM’s credit outlook as “stable.”

Through your efforts and those of the university’s administration, we will continue our success with this year's total operating budget of $73,548,495, an amount $4,813,852, or 6.14 percent less than our budget on 6/30/12. 

In total, our operating budget has decreased $7,330,515 or 9.1 percent from July 1, 2011, which includes mid-year, end-of-year, and group benefits funding reductions. Much of these reductions were realized through the elimination of 53 positions, including some in restricted funds, since July 1, 2011.

Nevertheless, ULM is committed to offering the classes needed by students who are making academic progress toward degree completion. While no majors have been eliminated, we have had to modify our academic structure to meet the demands of the budget.

First, we have taken steps to terminate eight low-enrolled minors after this academic year. Only four students have completed these minors in the last two years, so demand does not warrant continuation of the programs.

Second, Academic Affairs faculty and staff have diligently worked during the past several months to streamline the administration. Administrative department head positions were reduced from 18 to seven and the position of associate vice president for academic affairs was eliminated.

In addition, the position of executive assistant to the president has been vacated and will not be refilled. These decisions were made with involvement of ULM faculty and were based on a two-year review of academic programs that included input from the faculty and the Faculty Senate. The resulting structure is academically sound and minimizes the impact on ULM students, faculty, and staff.

Third, all tenured members of the faculty have been retained. Two tenure-track faculty members will no longer be employed after this academic year. Six non-tenure track faculty and four staff members employed last year will not have renewed appointments this year.

Forty-one additional positions—25 in Academic Affairs and 16 elsewhere—vacated through retirements or resignations over the last year will not be filled. Personnel notifications will be made next week.

Graphic Services, which has been operating as an auxiliary service on ULM’s campus for more than 32 years, closed last week. As the university’s printing and mailing needs have changed over the last few years, a review of current printing and mailing services found it was more cost-effective to consolidate those services than to continue operating Graphic Services as an auxiliary.

Graphic design work and consultation will continue through the Office of Public Information. In an effort to improve efficiency, ULM’s Copy Center was merged with Campus Mail Services as a single operating unit under auxiliary enterprises. ULM Campus Mail Services will continue to handle all departmental mailing needs.

Since the 2008-09 academic year, ULM’s total budget has been reduced by $14.6 million or 16.6 percent.

This has resulted in the elimination of 209 positions, 34.5 percent of which were faculty and 65.5 percent of which were non-faculty. As a point of reference, that workforce is comparable in size to the number of people employed locally by Angus Chemical.

During that time frame, state support to ULM has decreased from around $57.1 million to around $31.7 million, representing a 44.4 percent decrease. Yet during that time, 5,778 students have graduated from ULM and have begun careers that are fulfilling to them and meaningful to society. 

I know you have questions about available funds to higher education and the allocation of existing funds.  During the past two months, we have been analyzing the state’s funding formula and its method of allocating funds.  We have informed appropriate officials across the state of our findings and will continue to do so until we reach a resolution.

Thank you for all that you have accomplished during the past several months.  I look forward to working with you, not only in maintaining our achievements, but also in surpassing them.

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President