Monday, June 16, 2014

The long slow implosion of UNO

This may be the least talked about post-Katrina New Orleans story. At least it isn't talked about enough in relation to how terrible it is.
Over the past five years, UNO’s state funding has dropped by almost half, from $56 million in 2008 to $32 million for the current fiscal year. Over the past decade, enrollment also has fallen by almost half, from 17,360 students registered in 2003 to just 9,323 last year.

Fos resisted setting a “dollar target” on how much he hopes can be saved by the review, saying the group’s job is to make recommendations based on the merits of the various programs.

“I don’t want money to drive the discussion,” he said.

In an email to faculty and staff Friday, Hansen and Jenkins described the plan as one they hope will make UNO “broadly recognized as one of the pre-eminent urban research institutions in the nation.”
"Pre-eminent urban research institution" is  kind of vague. But not too many years ago this was a well respected and affordable state university serving New Orleans's middle class commuter students.  It matters that this institution is collapsing.


Clay said...

I pay class by class. It's now a little over $1,000 per 3-credit hour class.

Let's say you wanted to "bootstrap" your way through UNO for a civil engineering degree, as many people have done.

A BSCE is ~120 hours. That's $40k + books (+ whatever you need to live) in order to get your degree... And that's just UNO.

We don't care about building people up anymore. We care about throwing people away.

Nolaresident said...

It's not something that's applicable to me so I was really surprised when I read an article about that enrollment drop.

elsbet said...

Enrollment is down about 2000 under the current administration; someone will be thrown under the bus for that, but it won't be the top admins, who ought to be judged by that alone. Instead, the college of liberal arts (which has really healthy enrollment, from undergrad through grad levels), will likely take the brunt of the "right-sizing" currently underway. Meanwhile, there are at least 11 vice presidents that I know of, many more assistant VPs, all of whom have received raises in the past two years. None of the faculty have had raises since 2007. Most of the VPs came along with the current president from prior institutions (Tyler, Tx; Hattiesburg, MS; Florida) where they've done the same routine: explode admin costs, drop enrollment, slash and burn academic ranks. Then they move on. What makes it so much worse for UNO is the ongoing budget cuts by the state.

Problems are UNO are rarely in the classroom. It's heartbreaking to see this happen.

jeffrey said...

This is from a recent Tom Frank column you may have seen.

The possibility that higher tuition prices were going to pay for rapidly
multiplying and yet educationally unnecessary administrators was not
really raised in earnest until a memorable page-one series published in
1996 by the Philadelphia Inquirer. This interpretation had the virtue of
being accurate: Unlike tenured faculty, university administrations
actually have grown by 369 percent since the mid-1970s. (As I have noted before.)
But blaming administrators proved difficult for journalists, perhaps
because administrators were the very people journalists had been going
to for explanations in their tuition-outrage stories. Could their
sources actually be the culprits? No way. And so, less than a year after
the Inquirer’s series appeared, USA Today ran its own big tuition-shock
tale in which the blame was pinned on all the familiar blame-objects:
Professors, student demands, technology, gummint regulation. A 1997
cover story in Time magazine—“How Colleges Are Gouging U,” the
illustration shouted—barely mentioned administrators at all.

elsbet said...

Yes, thanks for that - and it's spot on. Public u's budgets are open to the public. Ours is in the library. FOI requests have to be honored as well. But all the press does is call and get a quote from (can you guess?) a VP of Marketing and Communications.

Feral Rhetor said...

Having worked at UNO for ten years now, which started with the crisis of Katrina and hasn't stopped in terms of instability, downsizing, restructuring, forced retirements, firings, program cuts, corporatizing, etc. I continually don't understand the actions of upper admin whether it was Ryan or now Fos. For example, insanity of FYE. The president hadn't even been there a year before he invested a lot of money and staff into what he saw as a surefire way to attract and retain students. Yet, from informal discussions with first year students, I hear it is a waste of time and disruptive to their studies (enforced attendance at events for example was most frowned upon). While there's no doubt, a commuter school like UNO , academics is ultimately why students attend UNO--locale and bang for your buck. We are amazing instructors across the board, considering how little we get paid and how scant the resources are. A critique of FYE programs has been its a diversion from academics and in this case it is doing more harm than good.