Today, Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law SB 266 by Sen. Conrad Appel -- a Governor's Package bill -- which will transfer the University of New Orleans from the Louisiana State University System to the University of Louisiana System and strengthen the postsecondary education system in the New Orleans region by instructing the public institutions to work collaboratively.
Governor Jindal said, "This legislation will move UNO to the UL System to help the school flourish while improving the education system in New Orleans, which leads to better outcomes for students. As an urban research university, UNO will fit in with ULL and Louisiana Tech -- other research universities that have benefited from the level playing field of the UL System and its regional four-year university focus.
"By signing this legislation today, we are standing up for our New Orleans students and taking a major step forward to improving the education system here, which will help graduate more students on time while also producing more high-trained workers to support the growing area of Greater New Orleans as a whole."
Senator Appel said, "The New Orleans region was once a world class economic powerhouse. In order for it to regain its competitive position in the worldwide economy it must have an exceptional public postsecondary education system. Only through education can a vibrant economy offer the promise of attracting and holding young families and of breaking the cycle of poverty that binds so many of our fellow citizens. This legislation is the start of a new phase in the life of the University of New Orleans and the postsecondary education system for the New Orleans region."
President of the University of Louisiana System Randy Moffett said, "This legislation is the start of a new era of postsecondary education in the New Orleans region. Not only are we looking forward to having the University of New Orleans in the University of Louisiana System, but also to exploring the untapped potential of collaboration with the Southern and the Community and Technical College System."
UNO Acting Chancellor Joe King said, "We are pleased with the outcome of this process, and we are eager to enter a new phase in the history of the University of New Orleans. We look forward to working with the University of Louisiana System, and we are confident that this move will enable us to better serve our student population and the New Orleans region as a whole. We anticipate that, as a member of the UL System, we will have a high degree of coordination with our peer research institutions, and we are excited about the results that those partnerships will yield. The UL System has reached out to us to let us know they too are ready to work together."
Governor Jindal emphasized that the legislation accomplishes two goals. First, the transfer of UNO will create a new era for the university, supporting its growth and therefore incentivizing greater student graduation rates and overall performance.
Second, this legislation will also help grow the New Orleans region as a whole by improving coordination between UNO, SUNO, and Delgado Community College. The Governor noted that while a large percentage of UNO and SUNO classrooms are not being used, Delgado is bursting at the seams.
According to Board of Regents space utilization audits, classroom space on the UNO and SUNO campuses are in use less than 50 percent of the time, while Delgado Community College struggles with overcrowding. Governor Jindal noted said these statistics show that all three schools have assets they can use to benefit each other with closer collaboration to achieve greater efficiencies and better outcomes for students.
The Governor said that the transfer and new collaboration will help improve student outcomes. Currently, the graduation rates at all of the universities in New Orleans are too low today -- UNO's six year graduation rate is 21 percent and SUNO's six-year graduation rate is 8 percent.