Another New Orleans University Cuts Back

Facing $9 million deficit and lagging enrollments, Loyola to eliminate 17 tenure track jobs and 16 degree programs.
April 11, 2006

To balance a projected $9 million dollar budget deficit left in Hurricane Katrina’s wake, Loyola University in New Orleans plans to cut 17 tenured and tenure track faculty members, and 16 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

University administrators announced the plan Monday and, after a 10-day period for advice and comment from the Loyola community, expect to send a final version to the Board of Trustees for approval on May 19.

While Tulane University required students to return to the campus for the spring semester, Loyola gave students the option and hoped students would return of their own accord. About 90 percent of undergraduates did return for the spring, but the preliminary enrollment numbers for next fall look weak.

With an operating budget of $125 million, and a $300 million endowment, the trustees are concerned about the $9 million deficit they project for the 2006-7 academic year.

All of the faculty members who will be cut back under the plan will get their salary next year without having to work, so they have time to find other positions. “Simply put, we cannot financially afford the current framework of our organization,” said the Rev. Kevin Wildes, president of Loyola.  “We must recognize market demand and conditions which necessitate a restructuring that ensures a positive impact on our students and the community, as well as our financial health.”

The plan has two main parts: the cutback of particular courses of study starting in the fall, and the restructuring of other programs to “eliminate redundancies,” according to a statement from the university.

Aside from eliminating overlap, Loyola officials said they tried to target programs that have low student demand. Several journalism programs will be condensed, while the combined law/M.A. in communications program will be eliminated altogether. The bachelor’s program in computer science will be dropped, as will the undergraduate and graduate programs in elementary education.

Other programs, including physics, Russian and music theory, will be suspended and reevaluated in two years under the plan. Kristine David-Lelong, a spokeswoman for the university, said that 141 students will have their main programs of study affected by the program cuts and suspensions. She added that faculty members will try to work with them to make sure that upperclassmen graduate, and that underclassmen can still take classes in their areas of interest.

A complete list of affected programs can be found here.

City College, a part of Loyola that serves nontraditional students, would be eliminated under the plan, and the new College of Behavioral and Social Sciences would be created. The entire university would be reconfigured under five colleges: the College of Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences; the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences; the Joseph A. Butt, S.J., College of Business; the College of Music and Fine Art; and the College of Law.

Father Wildes said that Loyola has been reviewing its programs for two years, so some of the ideas for restructuring were already well researched before Katrina.

In an informational statement released Monday, the university said that its “area continues to make national headlines regularly that do not present the most ideal perspective of the future or even what is actually happening,” but that there is no indication Loyola’s academic reputation has been tarnished.

The final question in an FAQ attached to the statement asks whether the university can tap the endowment rather than cut programs. “The board, again carrying out its fiduciary responsibility, has prudently determined that the endowment is our future,” the statement reads.


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