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Hurricane-Ravaged Southern University of New Orleans Cuts 19 Academic Programs:

The board of supervisors of the Southern University system has completed plans for the rebirth of the university campus in New Orleans that was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Most of the buildings on the campus were flooded in as much as 11 feet of water and damage estimates are as high as $350 million. Classes are scheduled to resume next month in trailers supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Association.

Prior to the hurricane, Southern University of New Orleans, a predominantly black institution, was largely a commuter college. Many of its enrollees were nontraditional students such as working adults who took classes at night to work toward their degree. Now that the population of New Orleans has been significantly reduced, enrollments are expected to be one third to one half of what they were before the hurricane. As a result, major cuts in programs will be instituted for the 2006-07 academic year. Many of the traditional academic programs such as English, physics, and mathematics will be eliminated. All told, 19 academic departments will be dropped.

The new Southern University will concentrate its academic efforts on community development, job training, business, and urban affairs. One board member who voted against the proposal told the Baton Rouge Advocate that he feared that the changes would make Southern University "a glorified junior college."

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