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  La. Endowed Professorship Program Reinstated
 
Source: TheNewsStar.com, posted October 29, 2012. Written by Sarah Eddington.

The Board of Regents has reinstated its endowed professorship program and adopted a new set of recommendations designed to strengthen the program and address the current backlog of 346 unmatched professorships.

The board approved the program's reinstatement at its meeting last week. The program had been under a moratorium since July 2 because of a large backlog of unmatched applications, which come from 20 public and private campuses and means the state has to contribute about $13.9 million to partially match the amount of money already contributed through private donations.

The intention was to use that time to plan for the future direction of the program and discuss options for addressing the backlog, according to Commissioner of Higher Education Jim Purcell.

Now the board says it has developed a plan to help strengthen the program and move it forward.

"We are grateful to the donors who continue to support Louisiana's colleges and universities and are happy to continue this support fund program," Purcell said. "We think these recommendations will help, and we believe this will attract more donors to the professorship program."

The Endowed Professorships Program is a matching donor/state program that allows campuses to receive a $40,000 state match for a donor contribution of $60,000 or more to benefit faculty at public and private institutions across Louisiana.

Before the moratorium, the program guaranteed each four-year university matching funds for two endowed professorships annually, and each two-year college was guaranteed matching funds for one endowed professorship

The reinstated endowed professorships program follows the same allocation provisions as the previous program, but to help reduce the backlog, the board approved the following recommendations: with donor approval, allow campuses to arrange to spend income accumulating from donor funds to address current faculty and departmental needs for unmatched $60,000 donations; ask donors to consider endowing professorships and super professorships entirely through non-state funds by combining previously unmatched or new $60,000 donations; and allow campuses to receive additional matches beyond guaranteed slots if one or more campuses submit fewer than their guaranteed applications.

In addition, the board will annually honor campuses or donors that establish endowed chairs, endowed professorships and endowed undergraduate scholarships in recognition of their philanthropy to the state's colleges and universities.

Eric Pani, vice president of academic affairs at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, said he is pleased to hear the program has been reinstated.

ULM has five unmatched professorships awaiting funding in the backlog.

"We are happy that the moratorium on new endowed professorships has been lifted. The earnings from these endowments help attract and retain high-quality faculty, so I am pleased that the program is active again," he said. "I hope that the regents, the legislature and the governor will now find ways to fill the backlog of professorships waiting for completion by the state's matching funds." The funds to cover those matches come from interest from the Louisiana Education Quality Support Fund.

Additionally, the legislature would routinely help address anything in the backlog through the use of one-time appropriations in the budget, Purcell said.

That changed after 2008 as a result of the economic downturn, and ever since then, the backlog has been growing.

Since the Endowed Professorship Program launched in 1991, the board has matched 56 endowed professorships for ULM, 140 for Louisiana Tech University and 25 for Grambling State University.

Overall, the board has funded 2,380 professorships at 39 campuses since the program's inception.

"We appreciate the statewide interest and involvement expressed throughout these proceedings," said Chairman of the Board of Regents Robert Levy. "The board has been thoughtful in its discussions on this important issue and we appreciate the enormous donor support for our campuses."
 
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