Southern University to cut employees and degree programs

Southern University is proposing shuttering its School of Architecture, laying off about 50 employees and closing or merging other smaller academic degree programs.

Southern Chancellor Kofi Lomotey discussed some of the proposals during and after a Press Club of Baton Rouge meeting Monday.

The Southern University Board of Supervisors is not scheduled to vote on the planned changes until Friday in New Orleans.

Lomotey is proposing closing or merging 16 of Southern’s 88 academic degree programs.

Architecture would be the only program with a large enrollment of more than 80 students.

Closing the School of Architecture would take a year to go into effect because tenured faculty require 12-month layoff notifications.
Lomotey described the “painful” decisions as responses to state budget cuts to higher education.

He said it is time to stop using “across-the-board cuts” when “no one starves but everyone goes hungry.”

“If we have fewer programs, we’ll have stronger programs,” Lomotey said, arguing the only way to save architecture is to find additional funding for multiple years.

School of Architecture Dean Lonnie Wilkinson said the plan is a mistake that would not save much money and only further alienate Southern from northern Baton Rouge by eliminating the school’s community outreach program.

Southern has faced about $14 million in state budget cuts — more than 20 percent of its state funds — in the past 19 months.
Another $2.66 million in cuts begin this fall.

Southern proposes:
• Merging the bachelor’s degree programs in special education, elementary education and middle-school education.
• Consolidating the master’s degrees in elementary education and secondary education.
• Switching from degree programs into concentrations in its education programs in French, Spanish, English, biology, chemistry, physics and math.
• Ending its bachelor’s degree program in agricultural economics, instead making it a concentration under the soil science degree program.
• Merging its master’s degree program in environmental science into its master’s of science in chemistry program.

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