Posted on December 8, 2016 by Rick Koubek, Executive Vice President and Provost; Professor of Industrial Engineering
In my conversations around campus these past few weeks, someone inevitably utters the phrase, “Good riddance to 2016.” Roiled by an unfortunate series of events, both manmade and natural, 2016 certainly has been memorable…often, for the wrong reasons.
Over the summer, the fabric of our city was tested after the death of Alton Sterling and three law enforcement officers, followed by weeks of protests both locally and nationally. Soon after, Baton Rouge was once again ground zero in one of the state’s worst flooding events ever recorded. Both events capped months of conversations about budget cuts to higher education and the announcement of first ever funding cuts to the TOPS program.
I, too, am ready to usher in the New Year. Not only to put this year’s tragic events behind us, but to also realize the promises 2017 holds in store for LSU.
Over the past 16 months the campus community rallied together to define a renewed identity, vision and focus for LSU. More than 2,100 people completed the online survey, 150 faculty and staff participated in focus groups, 92 administrators, faculty, staff and students participated in strategic planning summits and I personally visited with 57 community organizers, business owners, alumni and government leaders to gather their input on the university’s new strategic plan.
This input evolved into five thematic priorities and four supporting pillars. Now, nine different groups of faculty, staff and students are working on our behalf to map strategic objectives for each of the nine areas, with the goal of launching LSU’s new strategic plan July 1, 2017. Along the way, there will be further opportunity for faculty and staff to provide input via town hall meetings and online forums. I also invite you to attend any subcommittee meetings that might be of particular interest to you.
In concert, the university is nearing completion of a new facilities master plan that will provide a roadmap for revitalizing the physical footprint of our campus. And, over the past year, the LSU Foundation has been preparing for the launch of a major capital campaign to raise funds that will support our strategic goals. Finally, in 2017, with the help of world-class talent, we will aggressively promote our academic identity nationally.
LSU has many immediate and real needs ranging from facility repairs and graduate student stipends, to a goal of achieving nationally competitive salaries. Cutting a budget here or raising a fee there may bring short-term relief. But, 2017 could be the year we all look back upon as that point in time where we broke from the status quo. The year we rallied around our institutional focus areas in a new way. The year we accelerated revitalization of our campus. The year people and industry began investing in LSU like never before, when the national reputation and stature of our institution began growing exponentially, and the quality of life for our faculty, staff and students took a strong inflection upward.
As we conclude 2016, let us reflect upon the good work of the LSU family and rejoice in our personal and collective accomplishments. Best wishes for a joyous holiday season and here’s to a very promising New Year.