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Professor Emerita Laura Lindsay retires from LSU after 35 years

"And this is only the beginning," wrote Laura Lindsay in her June 2005 director's address for the LSU Museum of Art's premier newsletter, "Art Talk." Beginnings may be an odd approach to take when talking about Lindsay, as she will be retiring in June from LSU after nearly 35 years of service to the University. However, overcoming obstacles, embracing challenges and providing visionary leadership to create new beginnings for university admissions, an art museum and a newly aligned college perfectly explains how Lindsay helped shape LSU into the proud institution it is today.

Laura LindsaySpeakers Bureau brochure – December 1984

Jim Zietz/University Relations

Lindsay, professor emerita in the Manship School of Mass Communication, is an LSU alumna with a bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. from the university, and literally wrote the textbook on effective managerial communications. She currently serves as the founding dean of the College of Human Sciences & Education

"Dr. Lindsay's contributions to LSU as an administrator, teacher and scholar and dedicated service to her community, state and higher education in the South, have enriched the lives of countless persons," said Carolyn Hargrave, vice president for Academic Affairs for the LSU System.

Hargrave describes Lindsay as courageous. "She takes a position that may not be popular, but she knows it is what's right and best for LSU," said Hargrave.

The pair met when Lindsay served as associate dean, and later dean, of Junior Division. Lindsay played a critical role in the implementation of LSU's first admission requirements, a "seismic change" for LSU. Not one to shrink away from a challenge, Lindsay pulled together LSU enrollment management and high school counselors from across the state to ensure high school students received advice and the assistance needed to meet new admission requirements at LSU. Hargrave credits Lindsay as one of the reasons for such a remarkable student body at LSU today. Lindsay later became associate vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, where, according to Hargrave, "her efforts resulted in a very significant increase in the quality of students attending LSU and to an increase in both student retention and graduation."

Laura LindsayJunior Division – April 1985

Jim Zietz/University Relations

When there is an important job to be accomplished, Lindsay is often the person enlisted. She has served as associate vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, vice provost and interim vice chancellor for Academic Affairs. She was also chair of the steering committee that developed and built the LSU Rural Life Museum's visitor's center, and as executive director for the LSU Museum of Art, oversaw the historic move from Memorial Tower to the Shaw Center for the Arts in downtown Baton Rouge.

Combined, the LSU Rural Life Museum and LSU Museum of Art see more than 75,000 visitors annually, and they serve an important function in the preservation of the largest collection of Louisiana vernacular architecture and more than 5,000 pieces of decorative and fine art, respectively. Perhaps even more important, in Lindsay's opinion, these museums educate people about Louisiana's rich history, enhance the quality of life for its citizens and continue to enlighten generation after generation.

As vice provost for Human Resources & Facilities Management, Jane Cassidy oversees faculty development, as well as the Office of International Programs, LSU Museum of Art, LSU Press and LSU Rural Life Museum. Cassidy said that while Lindsay is exceptionally knowledgeable about management, leadership and organizational communication, one of her greatest strengths is advocacy.

"Dr. Lindsay is a tireless advocate for LSU," Cassidy said.

Lindsay's passion for LSU and for the arts is evident in her words about the Shaw Center for the Arts.

Laura LindsayShaw Center construction, tour with Board of Supervisors – October 2004

Jim Zietz/University Relations

"The inspiration from the Mississippi River is everywhere. The translucent, shimmering reflections of the building's unique, channel-glass façade seem to move and flow like the river it mirrors. The panoramic window that stretches the length of the museum lobby and welcomes visitors to the LSU Museum of Art galleries offers a living, ever-changing backdrop to top-tier permanent collection, traveling and in-house exhibitions."

It was again Lindsay who the university called upon to edit "Treasures of LSU," a comprehensive book that highlights more than 100 iconic items, each accompanied by interpretive essays written by faculty and graduate and research assistants. The book, published by LSU Press, was part of the university's Sesquicentennial Celebration in 2010 and massive in scope. Lindsay led an editorial committee of current and retired faculty and staff, alumni, students and community members as they reviewed submissions for more than two years to make the book come to fruition.

Her advocacy is iterated once again in the book's introduction.

"The result of decades of collecting and preserving objects for study and teaching, the artworks, research collections, scientific and cultural artifacts and architectural highlights found in Treasures represent a small fraction of the thousands of objects that LSU faculty, staff and students encounter, study and preserve on a daily basis. They are our treasures; they play a large part in what research universities do and why they exist. They help us understand who we are and how we got here. They define our culture, uplift our spirits, and challenge our thinking."

Laura LindsayShaw Center Opening, with Mrs. Peggy Jenkins and Governor Kathleen Blanco – March 2005

Jim Zietz/University Relations

At the Manship School of Mass Communication, Lindsay taught courses to both undergraduate and graduate students, including media management, crisis communication management, organizational communication and public relations. She chaired thesis and dissertation committees. Having worked with her during this time, John M. Hamilton, founding dean of the Manship School and former executive vice chancellor and provost, knew who to call when he needed a dean for the emerging College of Human Sciences & Education.

According to Hamilton, Lindsay had a breadth of university experience and knew LSU deeply. She was good at process, detail work and pushing projects through to completion, and she was an exceptional and patient listener. As interim dean of the College of Education, Lindsay navigated the complicated course to realign six schools as the new College of Human Sciences & Education. These schools include the School of Education, the School of Human Resource Education & Workforce Development, the School of Kinesiology, the School of Library & Information Science, the School of Social Work and the University Lab School.

Lindsay embraced the challenge of helping create a new college by first listening to the constituencies that would make it up, then championing their efforts to LSU and peer institutions nationally and internationally. As she often says, few if any other colleges impact and shape human life more than the College of Human Sciences & Education. Lindsay is quick to tell anyone who will listen about the college's nine books written this year, about students winning coveted internships in China and study abroad programs in Chile, about programming that helps more than 6,400 children in Baton Rouge, and about 300 student teachers who tirelessly teach more than 25,900 students in 48 schools.

Laura LindsayShaw Center Opening, with Mrs. Sue Turner – March 2005

Jim Zietz/University Relations

"Dean Lindsay is the epitome of a leader – she is a visionary who unselfishly measures her success by the success achieved by those she leads," said CHSE Senior Director of Development Wayne Miller. "She is an enabler and a consensus builder. Very few leaders have the skills required to bring about a group of units together so effectively like she has done."

Through implementing a new standard of excellence for student enrollment at LSU; building a top tier museum in the heart of downtown Baton Rouge; and forming a dynamic, cutting-edge, new college at LSU, Lindsay has impacted countless individuals throughout her prolific career. Her strong leadership and thoughtful resolve can also be felt when visiting the Rural Life Museum; taking a course in human sciences and education; or exploring "treasures" of LSU, such as the Student Union, the Quad or murals in Allen Hall. Lindsay helped shape LSU for more than three decades, and her influence will be felt forever more. 

In his forward for "Treasures of LSU," Chancellor Emeritus Paul Murrill posed a question, "But what is there about LSU that has caused so many people over 150 years to bond their lives in one manner or another to the university?"

Lindsay remarked, "Many things brought and kept me here: the reputation of LSU, I lived in the state of Washington when I came here; opportunities created by the state which waive nonresident tuition for employees like my father who was transferred to New Orleans by the Boeing Company to work on Saturn V; circumstances such as money, marriage and children; the location in a state capitol near an international city like New Orleans; diverse cultures, lifestyles and food; and people who were friendly, welcoming and supportive of me."

"I have enjoyed many extraordinary experiences during my career at LSU that have always educated and challenged me, and I think that is what life is about – constantly learning, believing you can make a difference, and working with teams of people who want to discover and create, develop and grow, learn and give back to others," said Lindsay.
"With her talents, Dr. Lindsay could have gone anywhere, worked anywhere; but she chose LSU," said Cassidy.

No doubt, LSU, and anyone who calls it their alma mater, is better for that choice.