Dr. Peter Fos, Pres. of UNO, speaks to ChamberNov 9th, 2012 | By Terri Sercovich | Category: Top Story
St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce Executive Board Members posed with Dr. Peter Fos, UNO President,
center. They are Vice Chair Jerry Calcagno, CEO Stephen Reuther, Administration Director Fred J. Sigur Jr., and Finance Director Joey DiFatta.
Peter Fos graduated from the University of New Orleans in 1972. Today he is the first president of the university and a proud UNO alumnus. He spoke to the St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce at their November meeting, about UNO post Katrina, BP and Louisiana Grad Act, and how it works as a partner to community colleges like Nunez.
Fos opened the meeting with a quick survey, and found that everyone in the audience either attended
UNO at some point or knows someone who did. That’s not surprising considering that on the day
before Katrina, UNO had 17,824 students. After the school reopened, the student count was 6,500.
There was even a dip in enrollment after the BP oil spill in 2010. With many students having jobs in New
Orleans’ tourism industry, when hotel stays and restaurant sales decreased, so did class sizes. Today, Fos reports there are 10,200 UNO students.
And those students are diverse, a stat Fos is very proud of. Even though 79 percent of students are from the Greater New Orleans area, there are students from all 50 states and 100 countries. When will a kid from Chalmette be able to be lab partners with a kid from Nepal, Fos asked. Diversity at UNO was
present on day one, September 12, 1958. When the school open it was the first university to be fully integrated.
On the financial front, Fos estimates UNO’s economic impact at $1 billion annually. The university
has 1,100 employees. Its budget is at $101 million per year, but that is in a state of fluctuation. The Louisiana Grad Act has set higher standards for admissions. High school students must score a 23 on
the ACT test and have no need for remedial classes.
This is where community colleges come into play. Students who are in need of those remedial classes or
scored less than 23 can attend a school like Nunez, and after 25 hours and no need for remedial English
or Math, can transfer to the four-year university.
Fos says he now routinely offers Delgado classrooms on the UNO campus to teach those classes in hopes that students become familiar with the university and transfer when the time is right. It is important for higher education to stick together.
Cuts in the state’s appropriations have been detrimental for schools. In 2008, Fos reports the
state appropriated 54 percent of UNO’s budget. In 2012, it went down to 34 percent.
“We’re going to do the best we can with the money the state gives us and do our best to grow,” said Fos.