State Treasurer John Kennedy urged the LSU Faculty Senate on Monday to testify in front of the legislature on House Bill 142, which would cut consulting contracts. The Faculty Senate also heard five new resolutions, including revisions to the University’s internship policies and establishing an academic honor code, in addition to hearing a presentation on energy efficiency.
Kennedy cited a history of cuts to higher education from 2008 to today and a growth in government contracts as reasons to support HB142, which would seek to cut spending on consulting contracts by 10 percent. He said the bill has made it through the House of Representatives twice before dying in the Senate finance committee.
The state has around 17,000 consultants, according to Kennedy, some of which would not be hard to cut.
“I’ve seen things funded that would embarrass the people of Louisiana,” Kennedy said.
Faculty testimony is sorely needed at the Capitol, Kennedy said. The legislature has heard from plenty of administrators about the state of higher education, but not enough from those practicing it.
“Nobody in the legislature wants to hurt higher education,” he said.
Senators inquired about the best days to visit the Capitol and the arguments that opponents of the bill may bring up, so they may better address them in their testimony.
The other presenter, Brian Salvatore, associate professor at LSU Shreveport, talked about a plan to make the University more energy efficient, citing the role such a large institution can have in mitigating and adapting to global climate change. He said the University could save hundreds of thousands of dollars in reduced energy costs through up-front renovations like the installation of solar panels on University buildings.
The University has adapted some of its energy infrastructure to be more energy efficient, Salvatore said, citing the University’s power plant, which makes use of the steam generated from energy production to heat the buildings. He said one of the new residence halls currently under construction also shows commitment to energy efficiency, but other proposed buildings, like the renovation of Patrick F. Taylor Hall, do not.
Salvatore used Arizona State University as a peer example, which gets a third of all of its energy from solar power. He suggested establishing a tax on sales of refined petroleum and natural gas to create a statewide renewable energy endowment.
The Faculty Senate unanimously passed a resolution taking a stand against HB244, which would allow college campuses to lease space to nonprofit corporations that wish to auction or sell firearms. Senators raised concerns over the demand for such leases, wondering whether the Red Cross was looking to fundraise via gun auction.
Proposed changes to the University’s internship policy were discussed, following concerns senators had at the March meeting about issues ranging from how the policy would relate to graduate students, study abroad and the definitions of various terms. The resolution to revise the policies and procedures will receive its second reading at the May meeting.
Elliott Thompson, director of academic affairs for Student Government, presented a resolution to establish an academic honor code at the University. The code would eventually be integrated into the LSU Code of Student Conduct and would “provide a philosophy of academic integrity the entire LSU community can agree on.”