Today, all across the Gret Stet, Louisianians raptly pore over the morning paper and the Internet sports sites to read all about the LSU Tigers' top recruiting class in football.
That's the top story on The Advocate's website down in Baton Rouge because, especially in these dark days for print journalism, newspapers want readers. And the editors have a good idea what Louisiana readers (the few . . . the proud . . .) want to read.
MEANWHILE, down and over . . . in the column of itty bitty headlines . . . we find this: "LSU cuts sketched." Sketched? Let's try something pithier and closer to the point.
Maybe something like "LSU's doomsday budget plan."
Here's what that story says about the cuts being "sketched" at the Ol' War Skule while everybody is paying attention to the football team:
The LSU System on Wednesday contended nearly 2,000 employees would be laid off if worst-case scenario budget cuts discussed by the governor’s office come to fruition.A LOSS of 2,000 jobs if the worst comes to pass. Devastating consequences for academic programs and students trying to graduate on time . . . or just pay their tuition bills.
State Commissioner of Higher Education Sally Clausen also announced Wednesday that college officials plan to meet next week with leaders of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration to flesh out issues concerning budget cuts for the upcoming 2009-2010 fiscal year.
LSU System President John Lombardi said in a phone interview Wednesday that the worst-case scenario — chopping 30 percent of LSU’s budget — would decimate many campuses and shut down many academic programs.
The LSU system includes the main Baton Rouge campus, four other academic campuses, a law school, an agricultural center, two medical schools and the state’s public hospitals.
Patient care at LSU hospitals also would suffer, Lombardi said.
“What you end up with is a lot of lost people,” Lombardi said. “When you lose people, you lose everything. That’s what universities are all about.”
Lombardi said it was important to attach a strongly worded letter along with the numbers concerning the 18-to-30-percent range of cuts for which the Jindal administration asked campuses to prepare.
“When you’re looking at spreadsheets, your mind kind of glazes over,” Lombardi said. “We wanted to say, ‘This is really what you’re looking at.’”
Lombardi is referring to the loss of about 650 faculty and 1,250 support employees on LSU campuses statewide, according to the report. This would change LSU’s mission and wipe out its national competitiveness, he said.
Just on the main Baton Rouge campus, the cuts would amount to closing one entire academic college, he said. The results would include fewer academic majors, larger class sizes, more expensive tuition and greater lengths of time to graduate, the report states.
“While some may imagine that the budget reduction processes in other states protects LSU against dramatic relative decline in effectiveness, they are quite wrong,” Lombardi states in the report.
States such as Missouri, Maryland and Oregon are not planning any higher education cuts despite large state budget shortfalls, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.
And look -- other states with equally bad budget problems that aren't cutting higher education. Where do you think, in the future, a shrinking number of jobs is going to end up going?
To Louisiana, a poor, ignorant state busy devastating higher ed? Think again.
What that "insignificant" story in The Advocate ultimately means, Louisiana, is that more and more of you had better be making plans to visit your kids and grandkids in Texas . . . or Georgia . . . or North Carolina . . . or Missouri . . . or Nebraska.
Pretty much anywhere but the Gret Stet, which, come to think of it, ain't so gret a-tall.
Enjoy your football.