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2013 Faculty Convocation

The 2013-2014 academic year will be critical for Southern University as the school goes through an organizational change while simultaneously attempting to build enrollment and stave off financial challenges, Chancellor James L. Llorens said today.

Speaking at the annual Faculty Convocation, Llorens said the university benefitted from the work of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus and other legislators that resulted in millions of dollars in "one-time" funding for the SU System.

He told about 200 faculty members, gathered in the Ballroom of the Smith-Brown Memorial Union, that the funding helped to ease budget tensions but that there are still some changes that have to be made to balance the budget.

The academic reorganization on the Baton Rouge campus will be a major focus of his administration, the chancellor said. "We can't depend on the same old model...we can't wait for things to happen. If we do, we will be left behind" by other institutions.

He pressed the faculty to develop methods of increasing student success and to prepare students for the job market.

Llorens said he is encouraged by what appears to be a larger freshman class this fall, noting that more than 800 students were placed in housing or registered over the weekend, easily surpassing the 774 students in last fall's freshman class.

The concern now, he said, is that the University will be able to retain the current students who have financial and academic challenges. SUBR is trying to increase its need-based scholarship funds to help students with financial difficulties.

He pressed the faculty to recognize and seek help early in the semester for students who show signs of falling behind.

The chancellor said that the development of more online classes is something "that we can't avoid...It is critical for us to be prepared to increase our online offerings."

Llorens, entering his third year as chancellor, said he is hopeful that academic reorganization will make Southern competitive and that he is sold on the faculty's enthusiasm to make it work.