Photo by: Hollyn Millet

The 2015-2016 yearbook and yearbooks from previous years in the Student Publications office.

University plans to discontinue yearbook funding

February 23, 2017

The Nicholls administration is planning to discontinue funding of the university yearbook, La Pirogue, pending a decision by the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors. The board meets today in Baton Rouge.

The University submitted the request for consideration by the board on January 30. In the request, University President Bruce Murphy proposes discontinuing the $10 per student yearbook fee and replacing it with two new HB 152 fees. These fees, at $5 each, will fund the Student Success and QEP Programs.

According to an executive summary from the finance committee of the Board of Supervisors, the university is proposing a $5 Student Success Program fee to “support the educational needs of students to ensure greater personal academic success and improve retention and graduation rates. The second proposed fee is for the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) that will be used to fund necessary costs relating to the program and support activities broadly encompassed within the scope of the Quality Enhancement Plan, which focuses on student advising and mentoring.”

In a statement to The Nicholls Worth, Lynn Gillette, Nicholls provost and vice president for academic affairs said: “Since the university’s founding in 1948, La Pirogue has preserved campus history and traditions while generating Nicholls nostalgia for alumni and other Colonels at heart. Technological changes, publishing trends and financial challenges have led Nicholls, along with many of our fellow universities, to re-evaluate the viability of a printed yearbook.”

The La Pirogue staff will produce the 2016-2017 yearbook, which will be published and distributed this fall, Gillette said.

In his memo to the board, Murphy said “student interest has changed and the demand for printed yearbooks has declined to less than 500 books annually, about five percent of the student and faculty headcount.”

However, Hollyn Millet, La Pirogue yearbook editor, said those numbers are not accurate. Millet said staff distributed more than 900 yearbooks this year, reaching nearly 20 percent of the student body. Staff distributed more than 800 yearbooks the previous year. Millet also said that only students are allowed to pick up a yearbook. Since faculty and staff do not pay the student fee, they are not entitled to a book.

Millet also mentioned that the yearbook staff has been considering other business models that would allow interested students to still purchase a yearbook without the university collecting the current fee.

“We are looking to transition to a new business model that would allow students to purchase a yearbook directly from a yearbook company. This model could even possibly create revenue for us in the future,” Millet said.

Austin Wendt, SGA Vice President, said that SGA was involved in an administrative committee that met this past summer to discuss departments and organizations that received student fees. La Pirogue was discussed. Wendt said he offered constructive criticism and feedback about La Pirogue, but he stressed that he never stated that the student body no longer wanted the yearbook. Wendt said this was the only discussion the SGA was involved in regarding the yearbook.

Wendt said he recently asked administration about the status of the yearbook, but was told that the decision was left up to Murphy.

“I will say that the La Pirogue is a tradition that has been on this university’s campus ever since its earliest days. It would be unfortunate if it was to be cut off in such a hasty manner,” Wendt said. “That’s something that we should take into account. This is a long-standing tradition. Even though the administration has had a long time to discuss this, students have not been brought on into the discussion since this summer.”

The decision regarding the yearbook fee is currently in the hands of the Board of Supervisors. However, Wendt says that this, among other conversations about decisions that affect students, need to be discussed.

“In the future, we would like to have more dialogue with regards to things that affect students,” Wendt said. “No matter how small the group is or how big, if students feel as if their voice has been shut out or if they’ve been left out of the conversation, it is my duty to represent them and stand up for what students feel is important. It seems like students have not had a clear voice. I hope that working together, not only with La Pirogue and SGA but with the administration as well, that we can formulate a constructive dialogue on how to go forward.”

Please follow for more as this story develops.

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