Dear Tribune Editorial Staff:
I strongly agree with your recent editorial (“SUNO is in Trouble…and it Needs a Fighter”). Because I earned two degrees from SUNO (e.g.: a BS 1969 in Accounting and an MSW 1996) and worked as a career counselor from 1982 until 2019, I believe I know a few things about SUNO. I trust that I have experience and knowledge regarding the crucial role and significant social contributions that SUNO continuously provides to the greater New Orleans community.
As a strong believer in SUNO, I know that the university has been an irrefutable contributor to our community for many years. However, SUNO has always been involved in controversy and the subject of debate regarding its mission/value. In fact, in the 1960s, members of the black community questioned why they could not enroll at LSUNO. They obviously felt that anyone could see that LSUNO was on the “right” side of the railroad track and that LSUNO’s campus was much bigger (e.g., more buildings, land, and students) than SUNO. In addition, LSUNO sat “right on” the beautiful Lake Pontchartrain! The New Orleans black community argued that that they did not understand why they couldn’t just go to LSUNO! However, in the 1960s, Louisiana’s white politicians had no intensions of integrating LSUNO. So, SUNO was developed to educate New Orleans’ blacks.
By the 1970/80s many (if not most) blacks began to value SUNO’s contributions to the community. SUNO’s faculty/staff members had nice positions as professors and/or staff members and its students qualified and were obtaining an array of competitive positions upon graduating from SUNO! Personally, I have witnessed that economic/social successes my fellow classmates and my former students experienced because of the educational/personal experiences they enjoyed at SUNO. Over the years, many SUNO graduates have become successful teachers, counselors, lawyers, educators, medical doctors, and other valued and contributing professionals in positions throughout the nation and abroad.
However, in the 1970’s the “bottom fell out” of the energy market and Louisiana politicians needed to cut the State of Louisiana’s budget. As a function thereof, they proposed closing SUNO! The black students/community strongly objected to the state’s attempt to close SUNO! Many of the state’s legislators proposed closing SUNO, but its students fought any attempts the politicians made to close SUNO! Sadly, this attempt to close SUNO has been proposed repeatedly by many politicians.
That said, I read your article with great interest and intensity. In my view, your remarks and statements were “right on” and I truly believe that you made a very accurate argument for the continued need for SUNO.
Joe W. Marion, MSW
Former Director of Career Counseling (SUNO)