For those of you who weren’t aware of the LSU Research and Development – Transition Advisory Sub-Committee, or its Thursday-morning, four-hour long meeting at the AgCenter, I would like to give you a recap.
After an hour-long conversation with the University of Michigan’s President, Dr. James Duderstadt, multiple presentations and other guest speakers, and extensive dialogue, the committee walked away with five main points of action:
- Recruit more and take better care of graduate students and junior faculty.
- Expand the liberal arts program.
- Concentrate resources on university strengths.
- Wrestle tuition control away from the State.
- Centralize resources, management and marketing of all LSU systems.
Approaching the restructuring of LSU from an efficiency standpoint in light of a rapidly shrinking state and, to an extent, federal budget is crucial to the sustainability of LSU in the future.
If you are not familiar with the term “LSU Systems,” it means all campuses and organizations immediately associated with Louisiana State University, like LSU-Shreveport, the LSU Agcenter, and formerly UNO.
The primary goal of the transition, or reinvention, is to remove overlapping administrative positions, like having both an LSU Systems President and the LSU A&M Chancellor, and consolidate resources. The recommendations being compiled by the Transitional Advisory Committee and its sub-committees will be used the restructuring of administrative positions, as well as in designing the long-term goals of the University.
First and foremost, LSU should focus on becoming a research-intensive institution by doubling its graduate enrollment, expanding grad student salaries, benefits and career opportunities, and by aggressively recruiting and keeping talented junior faculty. This is the single most important factor in making LSU a national asset in higher education. Currently, only one-sixth of enrolled students are graduate students – the national average is closer to one-third. If LSU is to become a leader in advanced research of any kind, it needs to double graduate enrollment.
Dr. Duderstadt emphasized LSU’s unique opportunity to concentrate resources and excel in environmental sciences, particularly in energy resource development, its strong agricultural reputation, and its opportunity for medical research development.
LSU’s satellite campuses, like LSU-Lafayette, should serve the flagship campus, focusing on undergraduate education and letting LSU handle all the big research projects and most advanced degree programs. Branding LSU as Louisiana’s College (much like Syracuse’s “New York’s College Team” campaign) will attract more quality students from the area.
LSU also has a weak liberal arts program, which is shocking considering the vast amount of history and culture that so clearly defines the local culture. Part of the long-term goals of LSU should be building a strong and diverse liberal arts core.
The 16 members, myself included, who met to discuss approaches to improving LSU’s research prowess, will be tasked with compiling a more complete list of these objectives in the coming months. You can submit your thoughts to the committee via the LSU 2015 website: http://www.lsu.edu/LSU2015/.