MANDEVILLE, La. -- Today's Louisiana college experience has been described as the good, the bad and the ugly because of the state's financial crisis and the cuts to higher education as a result.
Leaders of the state's third largest university, and one of the top ten fastest growing community colleges in the country, told a St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce crowd Thursday morning that it's a balancing act.
"It's just like it is in business, if you don't constantly re-invent what you do to meet the needs of your customers and your constituents, you're not going to be successful and you're not going to survive and thrive," said Southeastern Louisiana University President Dr. John Crain.
That survival has been more than challenging for longtime Southeastern Professor James Kirylo. Despite making it a priority to personally fight for higher education in Louisiana, he'll be starting classes this Fall as a professor at the University of South Carolina.
"Clearly, the last, going almost on a decade, there is a very low morale with faculty across the state because of a lack of commitment and so it's had an impact," he said.
Kirylo is releasing a book, "Teaching With Purpose," which he says includes the importance of a teacher's personal stability.
"One of the assumptions from the book is that we teach from the inside out, so we must know who we are, what our motives are, and processes that impact our thinking and our action," he said.
Now, with TOPS offerings only covering the Fall semester, in full, this year, parents are nervous for their families.
"It's a big, big issue for us," said parent Kim Walker, "It will affect how we are saving and making adjustments in our own budget at home."
But it's not all bad news for higher education. Southeastern Louisiana University and Northshore Technical Community College say that partnerships, like the one they share, actually allows them to offer more opportunities despite the state's shortfalls.
"We will continue to grow and a lot of the offset that we provide to survive is due to innovative partnerships with our chambers, economic development, our business and industry partners," said NTCC President Dr. William Wainwright.
While the budget battle continues, those leaders say the fight is far from over.
Kirylo will be signing his book, "Teaching With Purpose" at the Mandeville Barnes & Nobles on Saturday, July 30 from Noon-3 p.m., and at the Metairie Barnes & Nobles on Thursday, August 4th from 5 p.m.-8 p.m.