Northwestern State University President Dr. Jim Henderson said Friday that a possible reduction in state funding for the remainder of the fiscal year could force NSU to enact a hiring freeze, make adjustments in funding athletics and initiate employee furloughs.
The state faces a $750 million shortfall in funding for the current fiscal year that ends July 1, and colleges and universities have been asked to explore options and submit plans to curtail state spending by $121 million for that period.
Northwestern would face a $3.4 million cut under that proposal, which Henderson said would force the university to freeze hiring immediately, shift $1.6 million in state funding for athletics to auxiliary accounts and plan furloughs of three to five days for faculty and staff members.
The NSU president said, “A reduction of this magnitude would be difficult at any time following seven years of reductions in state general funds. Adjusting to a cut of that magnitude with essentially two-thirds of the fiscal year behind us would be an extraordinary task.”
Henderson emphasized that the university’s priorities for funding if there are reductions in state allocations “will be for instruction and direct student services.”
He added that furloughs “are the least tolerable part of the plan. We will do everything possible to avoid that scenario.”
In informing faculty and staff members of the university’s plans and options for addressing a possible state funding reduction of $3.4 million, Henderson emphasized that the governor, legislative leaders and others have expressed strong support for increased investments in higher education.
He said he had never seen as much agreement among Louisiana leaders that “expanded financial support for higher education is critical in this time of unprecedented economic opportunity.”