Sometimes the placement of headlines says more than just the headlines themselves. Take, for example, last Saturday’s Times-Picayune. Across the top of the front page was a story proclaiming:
- LSU GETS MAJOR GIFT FOR HONOR STUDENTS
- N.O. Businessman Donates $12 Million to Alma Mater
Below that was a far less upbeat headline:
- BOARD SLASHES SEVEN DEGREES FROM UNO
- President’s Recommendation Unanimously Approved
As positive as the LSU story, by reporter Quincy Hodges, was there were some concerns expressed. This particular donation was by philanthropist Roger Ogden. The article quoted LSU officials saying that private donations have to be the future because so much state funding is drying up.
Meanwhile at UNO the funding is already in drought conditions. As reported by Jed Lipinski, university officials have said that the school has lost 6,000 students since Katrina. Also, changing academic requirements have driven more students toward two-year colleges.
Other than a visit from Superman what the university needs is the benevolence of some super wealthy alumnus though that world is sparsely populated partially because the university did not open until 1959. By that time LSU was already one of the South’s great pubic universities. (Twenty-five years earlier Huey Long had even taken LSU fans and students by train to Nashville to watch the football team play Vanderbilt.) The traditions, and the money sources, run much deeper at LSU.
Logically, the state’s major university should have been built in New Orleans, as should have its state capitol. At one time the city hosted both though they were eventually relocated to Baton Rouge. Why Baton Rouge was chosen no doubt had much to do with regional politics and geography, but it is also in the American tradition to separate its capitols; just as at the national level the seat of government (Washington) and the seat of business and culture (New York) are different places.
(Some states put their state capitol and main university in the same town even though it is not their major city; such as in Austin, Tallahassee and Baton Rouge.)
New Orleans has long been blessed by having major private universities, most notably Tulane, Loyola, Xavier and Dillard, but the state system ignored the city for too long. The city woud be much poorer had it not been for UNO, Besides having educated thousands of people, there would be no downtown World War II museum had it not been for UNO. There would be far less of a professional workforce.
Finally, I cannot resist noting that the two articles quoted above, both of which had good reporting, were from my Saturday home delivered Times-Picayune. We are told that the Saturday T-P has returned through football season and that it will once again go away in January, leaving us to depend on The Advocate or cyberspace. The Advocate, which has maintained its commitment to daily home delivery, also reported the stories. The Ogden donation was highlighted with a sky box on the front page and the UNO cuts reported across the bottom of the front page. Both stories got front- page coverage in both papers. For the next month or so we can appreciate the fact that big news frequently breaks on Saturdays too.
BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s new book, “Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival” (Pelican Publishing Company, 2013), has been released. It is now available at local bookstores and at book web sites.
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