Facing imminent budget cuts of up to 30 percent, state higher education officials are having some serious discussions about the future of the state’s university system. Talks about the current budget situation spilled over into a conversation on possibly consolidating state colleges at a Senate Finance Committee meeting yesterday. The Advocate reports that when lawmakers pressed State Commissioner of Higher Education Sally Clausen for specific examples of consolidation, she cited LSU-Alexandria being turned from a community college to a four-year university in 2001. Clausen plans to begin laying out a new master plan for the state’s universities at Monday’s Louisiana Board of Regents meeting. “It envisions change - a lot of change,” Clausen said.

Two Acadiana lawmakers are noted as advocates for consolidation. The Advocate article notes that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Mike Michot concurred with Clausen that turning LSU-A into a university was a mistake. The article also quotes State Sen. Nick Gautreaux. “The reasons these systems were created was for power – political power,” Gautreaux said. “People in this state are tired of the rhetoric from everybody.”

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