Faculty hirings affected by budget

Due to budget cuts over the years, the university has had to be cautious when filling vacancies in staff.

“Loss of state operating dollars in past years has strained Southeastern’s budget across the board,” said Erin Cowser, Executive Director of Public and Governmental Affairs. “Every department and facet of the university has endured reductions in resources. We have worked diligently to be good stewards of all resources available.  One of the things we’ve done is to be cautious in filling vacancies that occur through retirements and resignations.  For faculty vacancies, any request to fill a vacant position has to be justified based on student enrollment and compliance with accreditation standards.”

Cowser feels that though the university has lost faculty, it has maintained valuable faculty members.

“All departments and programs are affected by the challenges presented by the budget cuts endured over the last several years,” said Cowser. “All programs have faced challenges in terms of retaining existing faculty and recruiting new faculty. We are very fortunate to have retained some of our most qualified and experienced faculty. Likewise, we are fortunate to have been able to recruit some well-qualified new faculty.  Those programs where the supply and demand inequity is greatest are most challenged in terms of recruitment and retention. For example, computer science is an academic program that has experienced growing demand for qualified faculty. As a result, faculty in that discipline are difficult to recruit and retain.”

This year, however, the legislative session ended without any cuts to higher education funding.




“Higher education in Louisiana has been able to let out a collective sigh of relief this year,” said Cowser. “This is one of the first years in many that we are not having to try to address reductions in state support.  We are concerned, however, that any reprieve may be temporary given the ‘fiscal cliff’ next year.”

Cowser believes things are starting to move in the right direction for higher education but there is still uncertainty.

“Our funding has been stabilized but at such a level that Louisiana institutions remain funded at one of the lowest levels in the entire country,” said Cowser. “Although budget stability is essential, and we are extremely grateful to the governor and many legislators for achieving that outcome in this recent legislative session, one of the first obstacles we’ll encounter going forward is the fiscal cliff that looms in the 2017-18 fiscal year when temporary sales tax measures expire leaving a gaping $1.2 billion hole in the budget.”

Cowser remains hopeful for the future of higher education.

“Even a temporary break in the seemingly endless budget cut monotony is welcome,” said Cowser. “Our University of Louisiana System President Jim Henderson summed up our current position well. ‘While we still trail our competitors in terms of resources per student, the stability in state funding and the fulfillment of the TOPS promise position our universities to deliver an even greater return on investment,’ he said. ‘Through this work, we laid a foundation upon which a stronger Louisiana will be built.’”