UNO: A Gateway to the World

The new International Center at the University of New Orleans is a hub for international students, visiting scholars and international programs.

When I became president of the University of New Orleans in 2012, I learned of a long-standing dream of an International Center on campus. Over time, that dream became my dream — and I am proud to say that this spring we celebrated the grand opening of our new International Center.

International students represent more than 90 countries and account for eight percent of our student body. Our international students, faculty and researchers bring new ideas, new ways of thinking and cultural elements to classrooms and campus life. My goal is to help the University of New Orleans become a truly international institution that attracts the very best students and researchers from around the world.

The new International Center is the hub for international activity at the University. There, you can find international student and scholar services, our Intensive English Language Program, international admissions and recruitment, and our study abroad and exchange programs that span the globe. An academic wing houses our international programs and visiting scholars. In addition, we have a beautiful student lounge for students to gather, do homework, hold events and get access to news from around the world. These students are our future. They inspire us daily. And this is where we will leave a global imprint on future generations of students.

Through this new International Center, we are helping all of our students to be ambassadors of our respective cultures. We are bringing the world to UNO and bringing UNO to the world. As I like to say: Where else can a student from Algiers, La. live and study alongside a student from Algiers, Africa?

Please come visit the new International Center at the University of New Orleans. We’ll be happy to show you around.

Peter Fos

Update on the State Budget

Higher education leaders from around Louisiana are working together to help mitigate anticipated budget cuts.
Higher education leaders from around Louisiana are working together to help mitigate anticipated budget cuts.
All of us in the UNO community and the UL System have had our eyes trained on the state legislature and anticipated cuts to funding for higher education. Today, I sent the following message to students, faculty and staff, whom I have promised to keep informed at every stage throughout this process:

The legislative session, which begins next week, will determine our level of state funding for the next fiscal year. Earlier this week, state higher education leaders appeared before the Louisiana House Appropriations Committee. During that presentation, the fiscal staff released budget projections for the upcoming fiscal year, including the proposed reductions for each institution in the state. The projections for each campus lay out two different scenarios: the first is a proposed budget cut if all of the contingent money materializes (which lawmakers may or may not approve); the second scenario is a proposed cut if none of the contingent funding is available.

If lawmakers pass all of Gov. Jindal’s budget proposals, UNO would sustain a $7.5 million cut, or 26 percent, to its state funding. If there is no contingent money to help fill the deficit, UNO’s cut would be $23.6 million, or 82% of its state funding. At the risk of stating the obvious, both of these proposed figures are enormous and challenging.

The governor’s executive budget is a starting point for negotiations over the next two months. Many lawmakers, especially those in our local delegation, have expressed an appreciation for the value of public higher education, and are committed to seeking every possible means of restoring our funding.

In the meantime, we are preparing to deal with the various levels of potential cuts. On the academic side, the deans will draft plans for their individual colleges, with valuable input from the analysis produced by the Faculty Governance Committee. On the non-academic side, the vice president of business affairs will engage in a similar process with guidance from the University Budget Committee. Regardless of the outcome, I know that we all are eager for answers in the process. Unfortunately we will not have much more clarity until the end of May or the beginning of June when the legislative session wraps up.

So what can you do? Stay informed and get involved. If you are interested in learning more about how you can support the University during this important time by joining the Privateer Advocacy Network, please click here. It’s a joint effort of the UNO Alumni Association and the UNO Foundation. I would also encourage you to sign up for the University of Louisiana System’s weekly budget briefings, held on Fridays. You can do that or review past presentations by visiting this website.

I pledge to you that I will provide additional updates as I get them and I will continue to fight for the University of New Orleans and higher education in our state.

Peter Fos

Update on the State Budget

I realize that everyone is anxious to learn more about the budget situation for the upcoming fiscal year. So am I. We have a little more clarity on Gov. Jindal’s executive budget that he proposed late last month. As I communicated to you previously, the recommended budget contains significant cuts to higher education in order to make up the state’s $1.6 billion deficit.

The governor’s budget stated that the cut to public higher education would be $141 million, and he would like to see lawmakers adopt additional measures to further reduce that cut. That figure does not include a $70 million tuition swap. A tuition swap means institutions are allowed to raise tuition but the anticipated extra revenue is taken out of the institution’s state funding; essentially we can’t keep the extra money generated from tuition increases. The governor’s $141 million figure also assumes that his proposal to scale back a tax credit will generate another $372 million for colleges and universities. It is not certain if lawmakers will adopt this approach and the money will materialize. In fact if this contingency funding doesn’t work out, the cut to higher education will be more than $600 million, when you consider increased mandated costs.

I mention all of this to say there remains substantial uncertainty about next year’s budget. I continue to meet with state legislators, members of the business community, higher education leaders and alumni to convey the message that higher education can’t be cut anymore. We have already suffered enough. Any further reductions in our state budget will greatly harm all college students in Louisiana as well as the economic prospects of our state.

We should have a bit more guidance on the level of our cut after the Board of Regents holds its March 25 meeting. I will provide you with an update when we know more. If you’d like to sign up for the University of Louisiana System’s weekly budget briefings, or review past presentations, click here.

Thank you for all of your contributions to the University of New Orleans.

President Peter J. Fos

Governor’s Executive Budget

As you know, today La. Gov. Bobby Jindal released his executive budget for the 2015-2016 year, which includes cuts to higher education in Louisiana. I sent the following correspondence to University of New Orleans faculty and staff.

Gov. Jindal today unveiled his executive budget for the upcoming fiscal year (FY 15-16). As we expected, it contains cuts to higher education in order to help offset a budget deficit of approximately $1.6 billion. Although the figure is quite a bit less than anticipated, we remain concerned about reduced higher education funding and the toll it continues to take on the University. The executive budget calls for a $141.3 million cut to higher education — every public 2-year and 4-year institution in the state will be similarly affected. The governor also proposed additional means to help make up the higher education shortfall. We are hopeful that state lawmakers will pursue every avenue possible to protect higher education and further close the budget gap.

The governor’s recommendations will serve as a starting point for negotiations during the upcoming legislative session, which begins April 13 and will conclude on June 11. Only then will we know the exact amount of our budget. And with the new fiscal year starting on July 1, we will need to take swift action to meet the deadline of submitting a balanced budget. Faculty, staff and students will have input in the process, and we will communicate with you regularly.

In the meantime, there is a lot of work to be done. University administrators are working closely with the University of Louisiana System, state higher education officials, business leaders, alumni and lawmakers to try to identify solutions that will mitigate the cuts to higher education. The state’s higher education leaders have submitted a letter to Gov. Jindal asking that he support a number of measures to support and protect higher education.

To read the letter, click here.

We are also working diligently to increase public awareness of our plight. Our message can be summed up in a simple question: do you support more education for Louisiana or less? The prosperity of our state and our quality of life is inextricably linked to a healthy system of public colleges and universities. Cuts to institutions prevent educational access and achievement and derail economic growth.

In addition to those efforts, we are creating budget scenarios and devising plans for how we might deal with the various outcomes of the budgeting process. The University Budget Committee will continue its work of analyzing recent spending and making recommendations to me about how to adjust the budget in the upcoming fiscal year. As a reminder, the committee meets regularly on Wednesdays from 9:30-11 a.m. in Library 407. The first 10 minutes of every meeting is reserved for comments or questions from visitors. You can also submit comments and questions to ubc@uno.edu.

I will conclude with one valuable piece of information. If you are interested in learning more about how you can support the University during this important time by joining the Privateer Advocacy Network, which you can click here. It’s a joint effort of the UNO Alumni Association and the UNO Foundation. I pledge to you that I will continue to fight for the University of New Orleans and public higher education in Louisiana. I will provide more updates when I get them. Thank you for all you do for the University.