- Public colleges and universities in the South are among the fastest-shrinking institutions in the country, thanks to dramatic cuts in state appropriations, a lack of industrial development in several states, and high rates of poverty among communities throughout the south.
- Several of the states with the greatest cuts to higher education are in the South — with Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky leading the pack.
- The steep cuts are, in many cases, compounded by an enrollment crisis, as the high rates of poverty facing many students in these states means a high reliance on financial aid and scholarships, which may not be available in the midst of cuts.
Schools throughout the south are suffering from industrial and political shrapnel tearing apart their budgets, diversity and rigor. Louisiana State University President F. King Alexander has already advocated for increased intervention from the federal government to make up for the gaps in finance and political clout for state institutions, but there is little evidence to suggest that state required spending on healthcare and pension, in addition to rising poverty in these states, will allow for any relief from federal resources.
College leaders in the region are best suited with a workforce-oriented strategy, which builds upon existing opportunities in manufacturing and service provision in key areas like healthcare, secondary education and social services. These are the areas in which the state plays a major role in providing jobs, and the industries most likely to grow and attract regionally-based students in the coming years.