Nicholls’ financial chief resigns

Elaine Burke
February 24, 2016
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March 2, 2016

With budget cuts from the state looming, Nicholls State University will have to find a new person to handle its money.

The university announced last week that chief financial officer Ronnie Rodriguez is resigning. Rodriguez said he will be taking over as CFO for the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. His last day in Thibodaux will be April 1, and his new job begins April 4.

The move comes as Nicholls faces financial uncertainty in relation to the state currently addressing its $1 billion budget deficit for this fiscal year. Last week, the state announced it would cover only 80 percent of the remaining TOPS payments for this school year, with universities having to absorb the rest of the costs. According to the Nicholls Office of Marketing and Communication, that will amount to another $1 million budget cut for this year.

University President Dr. Bruce Murphy said Nicholls could close for two weeks during the spring semester in a worst-case scenario.

Rodriguez acknowledged the timing of his resignation is not ideal, but that the opportunity in New Orleans was too good for him to pass up.

“With the budget challenges facing Nicholls, I know this is horrible timing for my departure. However, my new position will allow for additional financial growth for me and my family,” he said.

Murphy commended Rodriguez, who started at Nicholls in 2014, for his work during the university’s challenging times.

“I’m grateful for all the work Ronnie has done to reform the Nicholls budgeting process by bringing together a great group of employees from across campus to review the budget and create more transparency,” Murphy said.

Rodriguez said his time at Nicholls has been challenging, from a financial and a human perspective, due to the continued decline in state money.

“It’s tough. We’ve seen layoffs and good people have to be laid off and furloughed. It’s tough for a business and private industry, and it’s just as tough in state government,” Rodriguez said. “Ul-

timately, we want to make sure the public understands that this is an investment in Louisiana and our children, and we’re trying to make the most appropriate decisions with what we’re having to work with.”

Nicholls will announce an interim CFO in the coming weeks and start the process of hiring a full-time replacement. According to Rodriguez, the university must wait on the outcome of the state’s special session to see exactly how much money it will have before making the tough calls. However, he had no doubt about the Nicholls financial team’s ability to address the problems coming on.

“I feel confident in the staff that are here. They really, really have been successful to work with what they have, and stay focused,” the outgoing CFO said. “We have a lot of requirements as a state institution that we have to meet several times a year. We’re held to different compliance requirements, state audits and other legislative audits. These folks are great, and I have no doubt that they won’t skip a beat.”

Nicholls Chief Financial Officer Ronnie Rodriguez resigned last week. He leaves in April to work as CFO at the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans.