Today, Governor Bobby Jindal held a press conference on the Board of Regents' recently released SUNO-UNO merger study where he emphasized that the study says the status quo is not acceptable. The Governor announced he will use Alternative B as a starting point from the study to draft legislation to consolidate SUNO and UNO. For the press conference, the Governor was joined by Speaker of the House Jim Tucker and State Senator Conrad Appel.
Governor Jindal said, "The Board of Regents released their study on the postsecondary educational needs of New Orleans today and I want to share part of the study with you that pretty much says all you need to know: "The institutions as currently operating are not meeting the needs of the students in the region. Further there is no evidence that the institutions, within their current governance and leadership, will improve their performance. The status quo is unacceptable; change is required.'
"I commend the Board of Regents for acknowledging that the status quo is not acceptable. We must improve the postsecondary options for students in New Orleans. As Regents so aptly points out, "change is required.'
"I have taken a look at the two options for making this change, and I believe Alternative B is the better starting point as we work out details with higher education officials and stakeholders heading into the legislative session.
"Both options contemplate some kind of merger, but Alternative A creates another management board while essentially leaving the three institutions as they are today. Adding bureaucracy is no way to reform the status quo.
"Alternative B, however, consolidates New Orleans' urban research university, UNO, and metropolitan university, SUNO, into one new school -- the University of Greater New Orleans. It also establishes this new university within the University of Louisiana system. The University of Greater New Orleans and Delgado would share in a "university college' -- a central access point for applicants that would place them in the right education environment for their academic needs. The metropolitan university concept is not new to Louisiana. Indeed, Tulane has a similar model.'"
Speaker Tucker said, "This study says it loud and clear -- to provide the education students in New Orleans deserve, the status quo is not an option. This report is a good place to start from and I look forward to working closely with the Governor and the Legislature to restructure New Orleans' postsecondary educational options along the lines of the study's Alternative B."
Senator Appel said, "The economic outlook for the New Orleans area is bleak without a fundamental rethinking of the structure of postsecondary education in the region. We plan to move forward with a bold new higher education system for New Orleans this legislative session."