They Said the P Word – Privatize

Today, Louisiana higher education leaders converged in Baton Rouge to discuss the looming budget cuts which may top $400 million dollars this year.

I will write more about this tomorrow, but once again, this was predicted. CenLamar predicted structural deficits when Stelly was repealed, and I predicted the impact when GRAD Act was passed in 2010.

While closures and mergers have been floated for a while (SUNO/UNO and LSUS/LaTech have been proposed in previous years), and of course were discussed again today, today was the first I heard the P word.

Privatization.

I said the P word five years ago and was told I was nuts. Three years ago. Nuts. A year ago at my current institution. Nuts. Will never happen.

Me in 2010:

[GRAD Act] conceals a potentially huge civil rights travesty.  Its “success” will be based upon largely resegregating higher education in Louisiana…  And of course it will likely save hundreds of millions of dollars per high school graduating class a year.  At least.  Assuming that all the students currently going to college in Louisiana continue to (or can) pursue some sort of postsecondary education once this thing is fully implemented.  And assuming all the 4-year institutions currently open in our state survive without closing, merging, turning into 2-year institutions, or what I would imagine might be in Jindal’s most perfect universe, privatizing.

And Regents members Bill Fenstermaker and Roy Martin today:

Leaders have floated some ideas — largely schemes to increase fees and bring in more money to offset the cuts.

There has been little talk of major overhauls or the merging of some campuses, though state Board of Regents member Bill Fenstermaker, of Lafayette, and Chairman Roy Martin, of Alexandria, have expressed some interest in studying whether the state could offer colleges an opportunity to go private, with the state handing over campus properties in return for cutting ties.

“I would think we ought to look at this, at least,” Fenstermaker said. “I know this is radical, and it changes maybe some of the model, but it also could free up a lot of money for the other institutions.”

(emphasis added)

Hmm, I wonder who would privatize.

Mr. Fenstermaker from Lafayette, and Mr. Martin from Alexandria, will it be University of Louisiana at Lafayette? LSU Alexandria? I don’t see either happening because at least as far as enrollment is concerned, they’re doing ok. LSUA is certainly helped by the white, middle class demographics of their region, meaning students there are more likely to qualify for four year schools.

Or are we talking about the HBCUs?

What about affordable options for students WHO CURRENTLY CAN’T GET ADMISSION AT OUR FOUR YEAR INSTITUTIONS? And aren’t going to the two year schools because THEY WANT FOUR YEAR DEGREES?

Sure, we could privatize SUNO or SUBR or Grambling (assuming those might be on the table since they are struggling to maintain enrollment), and maybe they would be better off.

But would black and brown Louisiana students be better off?

Maybe then they could be admitted. But would they be able to afford to go to these institutions?

********************************

As an aside, the original title quoted LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander saying, “it’s going to be tough to manage morale.” Interestingly, it has been revised to the blander, “Louisiana higher education leaders discuss budget cuts,” and Alexander’s quote has been edited out of the body of the article as well.

Maybe higher ed leaders shouldn’t manage morale. Maybe you should let more people like me loose. Faculty and staff might be more difficult to “manage” but all of higher education needs to scream, NO MORE to Bobby Jindal and what he has done to us. Not just campus leaders or board members or politicians behind closed doors. The closed door approach has gotten us, well, here.

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