BATON ROUGE, La. -- Southern University alumni and students, along with members of the state Legislature's black caucus, say a merger of Southern's New Orleans campus with the University of New Orleans would reduce educational opportunities for African-American students.

That was among the testimony Tuesday before the state Board of Regents, which has hired a consultant to study the possible merger, at the request of Gov. Bobby Jindal.

UNO leaders and students didn't speak in opposition to a merger, but asked for it to be carefully studied before suggestions are made.

The consultant -- Dennis Jones, president of the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems -- says he's not ready to make recommendations but is ready to say that the status quo isn't serving students well.

Recommendations from Jones' consulting firm are due to the Regents by March 1.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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