Southern U at New Orleans Chancellor Has Vision Of A 'Universal University'

Ann McClure's picture
Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Southern University at New Orleans weathered two challenges in the past year that could have doomed the historically black university. It survived an attempt by Gov. Bobby Jindal to merge it with the University of New Orleans, a proposal that touched off a furor before dying in the Legislature. It also managed to persuade inspectors to renew its accreditation for 10 years, despite the slow pace of repairs after Hurricane Katrina.

But SUNO is by no means out of the woods.

Despite securing almost $121 million in federal disaster aid, four of its 13 buildings are still unusable, and nearly 30 percent of the spring-semester classes are being held in temporary quarters. Meanwhile, its 2-year-old dormitory complex, which cost $44 million to build, has a vacancy rate of more than 70 percent after officials vastly overestimated the number of students who would want to live on campus.

Then there is the matter of its single-digit graduation rate, one of the lowest in the nation.

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