This restructuring, known as the “Southern University Transformation Plan”, will help the university “to sustain itself as the institution battles budget deficits and faces declining enrollment figures” brought on by both a 20 percent cut in state appropriations and a declining student enrollment resulting from a forced end to the school’s open admissions process, according to Ovations, the official magazine of the Southern University System.
In a series of statewide town hall meetings to discuss the university’s future, Southern University System President Ronald Mason, Jr. talked of the two most crucial aspects of the school’s transformation plan: Reducing System expenses, and increasing revenue.
Key to reducing System expenses is eliminating any paper-based mechanism that could otherwise be implemented electronically. Currently, SUS is using a Cloud-based infrastructure that eliminates the need to purchase extra hardware, and cuts down on their software costs. Also on the technology end, Southern University is cementing its reputation as a “21st Century Model of Higher Learning” through eNtourage, a mobile app designed to work with Apple and Android OS that allows students to register for classes and pay fees, without having to physically be on campus.
To increase revenue – a problem created by declining student enrollment as a result of Louisiana forcing the system to abandon its open admissions policy – SUS created SUSLA Connect, a program that allows students who are unable to meet admissions requirements at the Baton Rouge or New Orleans campuses to be admitted through Southern University Shreveport (SUSLA).
The SUSLA Connect model has been so successful that LSU implemented a similar program, just one year later. LSU’s program was front-page news.
Southern University’s program, on the other hand, wasn’t.
Other plans to increase revenue include increasing alumni giving by 10 percent. One way the university plans to meet this goal is through the SUS’ 1880 Society, a group formed “to provide a minimum of $1 million in unrestricted support” to the University’s campuses. Part of the commitment includes an individual member making a donation of $1,000, in addition to recruiting one new member a year for five years, or recruiting a total of five new Society members over a five-year period.
To date, the 1880 Society has generated more than $100,000 in what President Mason calls “stick-and-move” money.
Also in an effort to increase revenue, and brand itself as “The Nation’s Only Online HBCU”, Southern University currently offers three online degrees: a B.S. in Criminal Justice, a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies, and an Executive Master of Public Administration.
These degrees are geared toward the non-traditional student who wishes to further or complete his education or advance his career goals, yet cannot afford to take time away from work to attend brick-and-mortar-based classes.
Mason said the University expects an enrollment of 500 online students by year’s end.
Of the transformation plan, President Mason told Ovations, “…This strategy points us in the right direction as we navigate our financial and political challenges this year and next.”
On the web: www.subr.edu