Legislature plans for UNO to join ULS System

The legislation to merge Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO) with the University of New Orleans (UNO) has been voted down. The bill, written by House Speaker Jim Tucker, failed in the Louisiana House of Representatives on May 18.

However, Tucker rewrote the bill to propose that UNO be moved out of the Louisiana State University System and into the University of Louisiana System (ULS), which includes Southeastern. SUNO will remain in the Southern University system. This bill passed unanimously in the Senate on June 9.

“Should the Legislature act to make the University of New Orleans part of the University of Louisiana System, we will work with our colleagues in the LSU System to make the transition as smooth as possible,” said ULS President Randy Moffett. “As Louisiana’s largest higher education system composed of institutions with similar missions, one of the strengths of the UL System is the collaborative work amongst its eight universities. I would expect UNO and all of our campuses to continue those efforts.”

Though this change will have a significant impact on the UL System, it is still unclear how it will affect Southeastern individually.

“I do not see any significant impact on Southeastern from the potential movement of UNO, or for that matter, a combined UNO/SUNO, into the UL System,” ,” said President John L. Crain. “Accordingly, Southeastern does not have an official position on either of the proposals.”

In January 2011 Governor Bobby Jindal introduced the controversial request for the Board of Regents to begin looking into merging Southern University at New Orleans with the University of New Orleans.

Immediately after the proposal became public, opposition was shouted from the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, members of SUNO staff, and alumni and students. Many people called it an attack on the historically black college. It even sparked a lawsuit by Southern students against Jindal and the Board of Regents, claiming that the board’s lack of diversity is unconstitutional. Groups that once voiced their opposition are now in approval of the changes made to the bill.

“We now stand in support to move UNO into the University of Louisiana System. As agreed, we will work with the Speaker and Governor Jindal to create more cooperative endeavors between SUNO, UNO, and Delgado and will continue talks to ensure that this occurs,” stated a May 18 press release from the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus (LLBC).

The purpose of the original bill was to boost the performance of the two schools, which were performing less successfully than desired. SUNO’s graduation rate over the past six years has been five percent. Since SUNO’s discontinuing of open admission in 2010, higher admission standards are sure to jeopardize future enrollment and, by extension, graduation rates.

In the same six-year period, UNO has had a graduation rate of 21 percent. The two campuses were to share administration, services and facilities. They would also work closely with Delgado Community College, which has been grappling to find space to accommodate its growing enrollment.