BATON ROUGE, La. – Today the Board of Regents approved more than $14 million in competitive grants and endowment matching funds through the constitutionally dedicated Board of Regents Support Fund.
These moneys, earned from the Kevin P. Reilly, Sr. Louisiana Education Quality Trust Fund, will support over 200 projects at 31 campuses in every corner of the state. A unique asset in the nation, the Support Fund offers ten funding opportunities providing significant enhancements to Louisiana institutions across all four areas permitted in the Constitution:
- endowment of chairs for eminent scholars;
- recruitment of superior graduate students;
- targeted research and development; and
- enhancement of the quality of academic, agricultural and research departments and units.
Since 1987 the Regents has distributed funds through annual competitions, focusing on project quality and impact related to campus and statewide priorities. Through fiscal year 2021-22, postsecondary institutions have received more than $950 million to support their academic missions. For FY 2022-23, the total Support Fund budget is $20 million.
The Support Fund has been a major support for higher education since its inception. More than 3,000 endowments, supporting highly productive faculty and students in priority disciplines have been matched to date, making the Fund the state’s largest donor to colleges and universities. In addition, thousands of research and enhancement grants have been funded, helping faculty to become competitive and nationally recognized in high-impact areas like 21st-century manufacturing and materials, biomedical sciences, and cyber, while ensuring that campuses keep pace with cutting-edge research and education technology advances.
“For 35 years, the Support Fund has played an important role in ensuring that our higher education institutions have the resources they need to provide high-quality education and research opportunities to students and to advance the state’s economy and workforce development,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Kim Hunter Reed.
The Board also received a presentation on the 2022 Annual Report from the Louisiana Health Works Commission focused on addressing workforce shortages.
The Louisiana Health Works Commission (HWC) is a legislatively created workgroup housed at the Board of Regents that serves as a collaborative working group charged with coordinating resources relative to healthcare workforce development within various state departments and key organizations.
The 2022 Health Works Commission Report finds increasing demand for and admission of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN), Registered Nurses (RN), and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN).
According to 2021 data provided in the HWC report, there were:
- A 40% increase in the number of APRN graduates in 2021 when compared to the previous reporting year (2019-20).
- A 9% increase in the number of students enrolled in Louisiana’s APRN programs during the 2021 reporting year.
- A 24% increase in the number of qualified applicants admitted to RN programs over the last five years.
Additionally, there are over 5,414 open nurse positions in April 2023, according to data from the Louisiana Workforce Commission.
“Although we have seen an increase in the number of students enrolling, the demand isn’t being met at the pace required,” said Regents Chair Collis Temple III. “We need more nurses to ensure that patients receive the care they deserve and to prevent burnout and exhaustion among healthcare professionals. The nursing shortage is not a problem unique to Louisiana, it’s a challenge across the nation.”
“Despite the advances of each of the healthcare-related groups, more efforts to recruit students into nursing and other allied health programs at all levels must be made in order to meet the high level of demand for healthcare services in Louisiana,” said Reed. “This report further amplifies the importance of statewide collaboration among education and healthcare providers to deliver the workforce needed to improve Louisiana’s overall health outcomes. Success requires innovation and a team approach.
In response, the Commission is deploying the legislatively appropriated Health Care Employment Reinvestment Opportunity (H.E.R.O.) Fund in support of creative solutions designed to meet regional healthcare workforce needs. The next step for the Health Works Commission is to announce winning applicants to establish Regional Healthcare Innovation Partnerships, cutting-edge innovative collaborations between higher education institutions and healthcare providers throughout Louisiana to increase the number of healthcare graduates in each identified regional labor market. Selected applicants will be announced following the May 2023 Health Works Commission meeting.
Melissa Maranto, Communications Director
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