The faculty and staff at Bossier Parish Community College have been told to stay focused on their daily mission despite rumored talks of a multi-million dollar budget cut to higher education in the coming school year.
Dr. Monty Sullivan, President of the Louisiana’s Community and Technical College System, met with the group to discuss the upcoming legislative session and the state’s budget woes. Governor Bobby Jindal’s administration has said that Louisiana’s colleges and universities could sustain a cut anywhere from $200 million to $300 million during the 2015-2016 school year since legislators are faced with an estimated $1.4 billion budget deficit.
Sullivan said the exact amount will cut $384 million to higher education. In perspective, the total State spending for higher education (LSU System, Southern University System, UL System, and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System) was about $1.467 billion in the current fiscal year, which means the rumored budget cuts could be anywhere from 13.63% to 20.45% of the higher education funding from the State of Louisiana this year.
The state’s executive budget will be released in February. Sullivan insisted that BPCC stay focused on its mission and not get discouraged.
“This is not an institution where people are panicking,” he said. “You go to work and know the job that has to be done. Maintain that focus and we will work through this budget.”
Sullivan praised BPCC’s faculty for the job its doing. Recently, the college was ranked in the top 15 fastest growing community colleges in the nation with enrollments 5,000-9,999 by Community College Week.
The rankings, published annually, are based on growth between Fall 2012 and Fall 2013. The college achieved an all-time record enrollment of 8,695 this past fall (2014), an indication the college’s rapid growth is not slowing down.
“This campus has done extraordinary work in the past few years,” Sullivan said. “You have found ways to deliver the product better and in ways that will better reach the students.”
He also praised BPCC’s response to supplying students in workforce demand areas. BPCC has not only created programs that are aligned with the needs of employers and employment opportunities in the regional economy, but have done so while being the lowest funded college in the state, according to the Board of Regents funding formula for higher education.
“There is success from producing market demand graduates,” Sullivan said. “Regardless if we like the [budget’s] direction, you have a story to tell and you knocked it out of the park.”
While at the community college, Sullivan provided a verbal update on the timeline to finding BPCC’s new chancellor.
A soft closing on applications will be Feb. 8 and interviews of the semi-finalists will be held Feb. 24-25 in Baton Rouge.
“I can tell you that this institution is drawing a lot of national attention,” Sullivan said. “I spent most of my holiday speaking to people wanting to know was going on at Bossier Parish Community College. People are looking at the local economy and seeing what has been created through partnerships with Benteler [Steel/Tube] and CSC [Computer Science Corporation]. Aren’t you excited that people view your institution in that way? That’s good stuff.”
Once finalists are chosen, they will be brought to the BPCC campus March 17-18. Sullivan said this will be the time that the students, faculty, staff and community get to meet the candidates through public forums and give feedback on who they feel is best for the job.
“It’s not about who is qualified. It’s about fit and who is the right fit for this community and this college,” Sullivan said. “We want you to tell us what you think because this is your next leader.”