Volume 1, Issue 2 June 29, 2018
A Weekly Look at News and Notes from the Louisiana Board of Regents
A letter from your Board Chair

At our June meeting, we approved a recommendation by staff to allow the Executive Committee to review and approve the funding allocation for higher education. This action was necessary because the 3rd Extraordinary Session had not concluded its work when we met on June 20th. As you know, the legislature allocated stable funding for higher education and provided an enhancement for TOPS to fully fund the program ($3.3M); increased funding for Go Grants for the first time in a decade by $2M to bring total funding to $28.4M; provided $3.2M to the Southern University System for accreditation needs; and provided $1.5M to Grambling for STEM-related upgrades.

Commissioner Reed and staff developed three distribution proposals for the Executive Committee's review. She discussed these funding proposals with the system presidents, and they were all very complimentary of our transparency and the work associated with producing a recommendation in such short notice.

The Executive Committee met yesterday to review the three staff proposals. The proposals are in keeping with the outcomes-based methodology that we adopted in 2016. The details of the proposals are as follows:

  • Option A: Advancing Outcomes
  • Methodology: 63% Base, 17% Cost, 20% Outcomes

  • Option B: Advancing Cost and Outcomes
  • Methodology: 63% Base, 18.5% Cost, 18.5% Outcomes

  • Option C: Current Year Methodology
  • Methodology: 65% Base, 17.5% Cost, 17.5% Outcomes

During the Executive Committee meeting, President Jim Henderson of the UL System shared thoughts about the funding formula and mandated costs. Our staff committed to visiting each campus that lost funding in the formula and will provide a report to the full board at the August meeting. Also, Regent Seale shared information concerning our SREB rankings using the options above and the fact that our standing among regional peers remains quite dismal. Regents Chabert, Lipsey and Temple also expressed thoughts about our path forward and how to address funding issues to assist those institutions that currently do not benefit from our formula model.

It is our board's desire to advance the outcomes portion of the formula to recognize the institutions that are performing well with the metrics outlined in the formula and incentivizes those that don't fare well to increase participation. Therefore, after presentations from the commissioner and staff, the Executive Committee approved senior staff's recommendation of Option A for Fiscal Year 18-19.

At our September meeting, the finance committee and board will have an opportunity during the budget hearings to review and approve how the systems will allocate and utilize the funds that the Executive Committee approved yesterday. I believe that the approved distribution is the best path forward and is in keeping with our constitutional responsibility. I look forward to continued discussions with the systems regarding the model and ways to improve outcomes in the future. 

Thank you.

Robert W. Levy, Chair, Louisiana Board of Regents

Students Credited With Helping Save TOPS From Funding Cut
June 26, 2018

Higher education is celebrating the passage of the budget and tax plan that saves universities and TOPS from further budget cuts. Without the passage of the 4.45% sales tax bill, TOPS was on the block for a 30% cut and higher education was looking at tens of millions of dollars in cuts. Higher Education Commissioner Dr. Kim Hunter Reed credits the students who let their voices to be heard.

“The students did a phenomenal job of sharing their TOPS stories. The SGA leaders rallied, LSU and Southern students worked their phone banks.

Tuition-free college? Louisiana teachers will be eligible under revived state programs
June 24, 2018
The state is re-launching two programs that will allow teachers to enroll in college classes tuition free.

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Louisiana Board of Regents signed off on the plans last week.

Jeanne Burns, associate commissioner for teacher and leadership initiatives, said in flusher times, the state was spending millions of dollars per year for teachers to earn advanced degrees, add to their certifications or help address shortage areas.

"We have received feedback from the campuses and they are very supportive of restarting this," Burns told the two boards.

How the legislature reached compromise
June 25, 2018

The special session is over and lawmakers' work is finished. After 17 weeks and four sessions, lawmakers found a compromise to solve the fiscal cliff.

One lawmaker said the repeated failure of the previous votes had humbled House members, and Rep. Paula Davis, R-Baton Rouge, said the 4.45 percent sales tax compromise she authored was "the sweet spot."

"I don't want to be known as somebody in favor of taxes," said Sen. Jack Donahue, R-Mandeville. "But I'll be damned if I'm going to cut $100 million from higher education in the State of Louisiana when I know that's what we need to make this state what it can be."

Higher education and TOPS funding continues; UL Lafayette reacts
June 25, 2018
Both UL Lafayette and it student are feeling a weight lifted off their shoulders after finding out that higher education and the TOPS program will continue to be funded.
"I'm so happy that our state legislators have found it important and a priority of our state to make sure that they did fund TOPS for our students," says Dr. De Wayne Bowie, Vice President of Enrollment Management at the university.

Louisiana budget protects TOPS: Watch high school seniors react
June 24, 2018

Louisiana students were able to breathe a sigh of relief Sunday night (June 24) with news that state legislators signed off on a budget including funding for the TOPS college scholarship program. 

For the students of  Girls State of Louisiana , that sigh of relief was rather louder. 

In a  tweet   posted by University of Louisiana System President Dr. Jim Henderson, a group of the high school seniors comprising the leadership program were seen hollering and applauding when, Henderson wrote, they were informed by Northwestern State University President Dr. Chris Maggio that the scholarship program was protected in the latest state budget. 

Universities relieved by budget that will continue to fund agencies, TOPS
June 25, 2018
Students and university faculty rejoiced at the news that TOPS would be funded after Sunday's state budget approval.

"The progress that we have made this week indicates what I have known all along. There's far more that unites us than divides us," Gov. John Bel Edwards said.

Edwards praised lawmakers for finally coming together on a primary tax bill and a budget bill three days ahead of schedule during their third special session.

"We are going to move forward in a way that should inspire confidence in people who want to invest in Louisiana so that they can know that we're going to have educated, trained, skilled people here that can be their employees," Edwards said.

First-Generation College Students More Engaged Than Peers
Popular perceptions of first-generation college students as being unsure about college and academically unprepared to succeed may not be true.

New research from Campus Labs , a higher education data collection and software company, examined the non-cognitive skills of first-generation students and compared them to their multi-generational peers, finding that first-generation students are more engaged and committed to their education.

Ohio higher ed leaders form regional compact
Nine public colleges and universities in northeast Ohio have teamed up to create a consortium agreement to improve efficiency and effectiveness, strengthen educational offerings, provide collaborative pathways to degrees and support the region’s workforce.

“A sense of urgency drives this collaborative effort to help the residents of Northeast Ohio gain the education and skills needed for well-paying, meaningful jobs,” Tri-C President Alex Johnson said in a press release. “As these stalwart institutions find new ways to work together, we become better positioned to improve student outcomes and expand opportunity for our region.”