Movement and Controversy Over Louisiana Merger Idea

January 24, 2011

The Louisiana Board of Regents is moving ahead with a study of a possible merger of Southern Louisiana at New Orleans and the University of New Orleans, by hiring an outside consultant to prepare an analysis of the idea by March 1, in time for legislative consideration, The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, called for consideration of the merger, citing the low graduation rates and shrinking enrollments of the two institutions. But the plan is controversial, in part because Southern is a historically black institution -- and many advocates for black students in Louisiana believe that the institution has never been treated equitably and deserves to be built up. Louisiana's Legislative Black Caucus has denounced the merger idea as a plan for the "systematic demise" of the state's historically black colleges. Also last week, the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, a national group of historically black colleges, issued a statement criticizing the proposal. The statement noted that a legislative commission recently considered and rejected the merger idea, finding that the institutions have different and important missions. "Now is not the time to destroy, but rather to strengthen the Southern University System," says the NAFEO statement.

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