September 22, 2015
The colleges and universities of New Orleans have served as far more than the end point of the educational track for many thousands of students. They have also been significant employers, research centers and development entities.
As part of the Future of New Orleans series, leaders of the city's campuses of higher learning were asked to forecast what lies ahead for their institutions and the people who depend on them for training, jobs and community investment.
Walter Kimbrough, Dillard University president
Hurricane Katrina, its aftermath and the recovery defined the last decade for Dillard University. This event not only tested our resolve and will to survive, it tested our faith. Today we are stronger because of faith.
Going forward, we will have greater urgency in our mission, greater creativity with our educational pursuits and greater commitment to engaging the community. Our signature programs in physics and film will have national attention. Our centers for environmental justice and African-American material culture will be leaders in these fields.
We will also be one of the top producers of blacks entering and completing law school, reviving our Straight College legacy. And we will further solidify our role as the people's university, a place where people of all backgrounds can meet for inspiration, education and information.
Historically, Dillard is a magnet for students rich in potential and talent but lacking resources. But in a city where 44 percent of black households earn less than $21,000, our main challenge is redefining philanthropy as an investment for deserving students in need. Soon, someone will validate this idea of philanthropy with a transformational seven-figure gift.
In this I have faith, and it is strong.
Peter Fos, University of New Orleans president
As it has for nearly 60 years, the University of New Orleans will continue to be an essential public asset to the city and region for decades to come. The challenges that the city's only public research university will face are the ones it is already navigating: dwindling state support and increased admissions requirements, which prevent many local students from being academically qualified to enroll at UNO.
In spite of those obstacles, the potential for growth remains significant. While continuing to serve the students of the New Orleans area, the university will rebuild its enrollment by recruiting more high quality students from outside of Louisiana and the United States.
To these students, UNO offers an alluring combination of high quality academics, unique program offerings and affordable tuition in a city that is unsurpassed in its cultural vibrancy. In order to accommodate the new students, the university will hire more faculty and staff, build additional residence halls and add on-campus amenities to further enhance student life on the Lakefront.
UNO will also boost its research portfolio to new levels, producing groundbreaking discoveries and creative scholarship that will enhance the quality of life for people around the region and the globe.
Victor Ukpolo, Southern University at New Orleans chancellor
Southern University at New Orleans is strategically positioned to become a premiere metropolitan historically black university by continuing to offer relevant undergraduate and graduate programs for a diverse student population.
In the future, a specific focus for SUNO will be the continued support of African-American male students' pursuit of higher education, particularly through the Honore Center for Undergraduate Student Achievement, now in its fourth year.
Shrinking budgets represent a major issue confronting all public higher education institutions in Louisiana. SUNO, therefore, constantly develops and enacts appropriate strategies to ensure that this institution remains economically viable. Fundraising success continues to remain a challenge. Nonetheless, we are implementing strategies to overcome this ongoing challenge.
Our growth potential centers on increased efforts in working with our primary feeder high schools to vastly improve students' overall academic performances and scores on tests, such as the ACT. Additional growth will come by successfully attracting potential students from our region's expanding Latino population.
Michael Fitts, Tulane University president
Like institutions throughout higher education, Tulane University faces disruptive conditions in the years ahead. Costs, revenue sources, rapidly evolving technology and new competition all pose challenges. In this environment, it is paramount for us to clearly define what makes our education and research distinctive. Fortunately, Tulane has fundamental strengths to draw from and a vision of where to go.
Our strong selection of schools and disciplines, manageable size and creative culture rooted in New Orleans position us to become an epicenter for interdisciplinary teaching and discovery. Innovation and new ideas come from linking different areas of knowledge. The most dynamic learning and powerful research happen when people collaborate across fields and work with others from different backgrounds.
At Tulane, we can be a leader at this, growing a national and international reputation for producing nimble thinkers and problem solvers. With this approach we also can elevate our strengths in key areas of research: energy, the environment, water, health and bio-innovation, among others.
Universities aren't the only places feeling the effects of a changing world. We'll need leaders in the 21st century to be creative, think across categories and understand different perspectives. At Tulane, we have a compelling opportunity to be one of top launching places for those leaders.
Dr. Larry Hollier, LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans chancellor
As a public university and in view of the recent budget cuts to higher education, one of the major challenges we face is adequate funding from the state for our six schools. A parallel challenge is the reduction in National Institutes of Health funding for research. Although sequestration was temporarily suspended, it will return in 2016 through 2021 and reduce the federal budget by 8.2 percent any time it is triggered by the Budget Control Act deficit reduction provisions.
The opening of the new University Medical Center underpins the potential for growth and improvement of LSU Health Sciences by allowing us to expand our specialized programs in complex disease management. We are and will continue to increase our patient care activities and commensurate educational opportunities in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette.
We also plan to develop the LSU Health New Orleans Center for Personalized Medicine and the LSU Health New Orleans Center for Genomic Research. Both will advance our activities in cancer research and treatment, as well as in medical education and graduate medical education and training in managing this and other devastating diseases.
C. Reynold Verret, Xavier University president
Education is indeed the foundation on which robust societies are built -- those that nourish the human body and spirit -- even more so today, as economies and societies require mental abilities that are cultivated in our colleges and universities. Yet to serve the region, nation and beyond, higher education must respond to key challenges. Paramount among these is affordability.
Roughly 60 percent of the students at Xavier are eligible for Pell grants, allocated to students with the greatest need. A large number of students at Xavier and elsewhere are also the first in their families to attend college. In spite of recent progress, many students do not receive the pre-collegiate education that they require and deserve. Academic and economic support for these students is essential if we are to meet the need for educated citizens who will develop our economies, educate the young and protect the nation.
Xavier has provided transformational education to generations of students.
We have new opportunities to expand undergraduate and graduate programmatic offerings to meet the needs of today's students, including adult learners. Better fundraising must address economic challenges that our students face. And we must tell our story, communicate our success and our purpose.
Joan Davis, Delgado Community College chancellor
Most students no longer come to college to find themselves. They come to college to ultimately find meaningful and gainful employment. Delgado Community College is challenged every day with providing a balanced, well-rounded college experience while at the same time efficiently preparing students for the workforce. The Louisiana Community and Technical College System's Board of Supervisors is leading the way in finding the balance needed.
The system's adoption of "Our Louisiana 2020" encourages an alignment of academics with the needs of business and industry. It allows students to obtain "stackable credentials," which in turn allows them to immediately enter the workforce with the opportunity to return to college for additional credentials and eventually a degree. The pathway to a student's final educational and career outcome is not always a direct one, and we must recognize that this journey can occur in stages, too.
David "Buck" Landry, Our Lady of Holy Cross College president
Our Lady of Holy Cross College is entering a period of unprecedented growth in undergraduate and graduate education. Our undergraduates have grown by 10 percent and graduate school by 35 percent in just the past year. And we also have more than 80 students who are pursuing Ph.Ds. in either counseling or education. Our programs in nursing and allied health at the bachelor's level are at an all-time high, and our business offerings and continuing education are expanding.
With this growth at OLHCC, we see nothing but a bright future ahead due to our strategic forward thinking and planning and our non-dependence on the state of Louisiana for funding. This allows us to make strategic investments in those areas where our students will be employable.
My vision for the next three to five years is continued grow that brings our enrollment from the current 1,200 student to 1,500 students.
Rev. Kevin Wildes, Loyola University president
At Loyola University New Orleans, our educational mission and identity as a Jesuit university are crucial to decision-making about our future. I have no doubt about the value and strength of a Loyola education and the Jesuit tradition in which we live.
At our core is an emphasis on outstanding academic offerings, high moral values, strong ethics and critical thinking, elements of a Jesuit education that have endured ― and been a point of pride ― for centuries.
Our strategic plan, Transforming Loyola 2020, was developed through our shared governance processes, and it is a living document designed to guide us through the changing landscape of higher education. The plan calls for us to focus on areas of leverage and strength, so that change can become opportunity and a meaningful point of difference.
Loyola is dedicated to cultivating a learning-centered community that is dedicated to providing a high-quality, experiential and values-based education; devoted to students' discovery of their career and a life of service; infused by the cultures and traditions of New Orleans; and rooted in the Jesuit and Catholic mission of the University. These four strategies will guide Loyola into the next decade.