SU chancellor responds to withdrawal of furloughs
BATON ROUGE- Following a News 2 report on some Southern University faculty members rethinking their signatures on furlough agreements, Chancellor James Llorens issued the following statement:
"The Southern University -Baton Rouge campus faculty agreed to participate in a voluntary furlough plan to help the SUBR campus with its 2011-2012 budget. To that end, an agreement was drafted to allow the faculty to participate in a faculty furlough on a strictly volunteer basis. The faculty voluntarily signed the agreement for approximately two weeks. The agreement stated that once the faculty member signed the agreement, the agreement is final and irrevocable. The University has relied on the faculty voluntary participation in the furlough by reducing the number of anticipated layoffs to balance the budget. Therefore, the University expects the faculty to stand by their commitment."
Some faculty members say they believed the furlough agreements would only go into effect if 90 percent of faculty signed them. Instead, 60 percent of tenured faculty signed, and the Southern University's Board agreed to make more cuts to budget around that number.
Senate Faculty President Dr. Sudhir Trivedi held a meeting Thursday to answer faculty's questions.
Trivedi has not delivered the furlough agreement letters to Llorens because he wants written guarantee first that Llorens will not furlough faculty and ask to declare a financial crisis later. He also wants to ensure more advance notice for faculty if programs and jobs are cut.
But Trivedi did ensure no one who wants to withdraw their agreement would be ignored.
"I'm not gonna send any contract to Llorens if you tell me not to! Take my word for it!" Trivedi shouted above murmurs in the meeting Thursday. His comment was met with applause.
Trivedi isn't sure what happens next. He anticipates there could be a stalemate between the faculty and administration, but won't look for any more signatures until his guarantees are met.