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President Bruce Murphy address the Nicholls faculty and staff about the August flood relief at the State of the University address January 11.

Murphy discusses Board of Regents Response to Act 619

January 19, 2017

Nicholls State University President Bruce Murphy discussed the importance of providing feedback about the Louisiana Board of Regents Staff Response to Act 619 of the 2016 regular session of the Louisiana Legislature at the State of the University address.

“There are some things in there that may have an impact on [Nicholls],” Murphy said. “Things like combining and cutting universities and restricting research in certain institutions.”

The biannual State of the University address took place on Wednesday, Jan. 11 in Peltier Auditorium. Other matters discussed included the 2016-2017 budget, the finalization of the university reaccreditation process, the flood relief fund organized by Nicholls, the increase in athletic games attendance and the recap of grants and awards received by university bodies.     

Murphy stressed the possible impacts of the Act 619 to higher education and encouraged faculty members to collaborate with their opinions to the Board of Regents.

“Why should you care?” Murphy said. “Look at some of the topics: Governance and Structure, Finance and Facilities, Faculty, Innovation and Academic Programs, College and Career Preparation, College Access and Success and Workforce and Career Readiness. All of the stuff we care about is going to be included in [the document].”

The response document preliminary draft is available at the board’s website and the deadline for public comments is February 6. The Board of Regents will then meet with legislators on February 22 to present their recommendations for approval.

The Act 619, authored by Sen. Sharon Hewitt, a Republican member of the Louisiana State Senate for District 1, requires a comprehensive analysis of the State’s postsecondary education system. The system allows the Board of Regents and postsecondary education leaders to prioritize resources according to evaluate and streamline academic offerings, stimulate innovative research and respond to local workforce needs.

The Board of Regents draft presented on January 9 is a document with recommendations addressing Act 619 concerns for postsecondary education budgeting, quality, cost-benefit and efficiency among others. The board’s intention is to ensure an efficient, integrated and cost efficient operating system.

According to the draft, “The comprehensive analysis of Louisiana’s public postsecondary education and recommendations for improvement envisioned in Act 619 complement the Regents’ constitutional authority to develop and periodically revise a Master Plan for Postsecondary Education. As postsecondary education constantly evolves, shaped by social, economic, political and demographic forces, the Board of Regents regularly re-examines its Master Plan.”

One of the main recommendations of the board is for the State to cut its TOPS program in face of the fiscal reality. The proposed alternatives includes to focus the program awards to need-based scholarships, changing it to a flat grant, increasing students’ workload to 30 credit-hours per year and/or sell naming rights for TOPS to increase private funding.  
Additional staff proposals include to allow higher education governing bodies autonomy to set fees and “limited tuition increases,” to unify services among neighboring campuses even if they have different governing boards, to limit research investments, to apply a local taxation to community and technical colleges, to create a funding floor for postsecondary education appropriations, to tighten admission of students who need remedial coursework, to offer academic credit for military and work experience and to create a certificate for students who leave college as juniors among many others.   

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