Jerry Baudin, LSU’s retiring vice chancellor of finance and administrative services, reflects on his 42-year career with the university.
Photos: Jim Zietz/LSU Communications & University Relations
End of an Era: LSU's Longtime Finance Chief Jerry Baudin Retires
As 2009 comes to a close, so does the exceptional career of one of the university's top officials. Jerry Baudin, vice chancellor of finance and administrative services, says goodbye to LSU after more than 42 years of service.
When James Firnberg hired him in the 1960s, Baudin was told that there was something to do at LSU every night. So, his first duty on his first day was to accompany Firnberg to the athletic department to pick out men's basketball season tickets. Baudin was not disappointed, as he did not miss a game during the legendary collegiate career of "Pistol" Pete Maravich, the NCAA's all-time points leader.
"On my first day on the job, June 1, 1967, Jim Firnberg came to me and said we were going to the athletic department to pick our basketball seats," said Baudin. "He said the university had hired this coach, and his son was coming with him to play basketball for LSU and this kid was going to be fantastic. I didn't know who he was talking about at the time, but it turned out to be Press and Pete Maravich. We went to the athletic department to select our seats in Parker Coliseum and we got the best seats in the house! We did not miss a home game while Pete played for LSU."
That was just the start to the wonderful career Baudin has had at the university. From his beginning in the Office of Institutional Research, which served both the LSU System Office and the main campus, through two graduate degrees, to his position as vice chancellor, Baudin has exemplified what it means to be a member of the LSU family.
Although he is retiring, Baudin will continue to serve the higher education community. A member of the Teachers' Retirement System of Louisiana's Board of Trustees representing the state's colleges and universities since 1987, on Jan. 1, 2010, Baudin will begin a one-year term as the board's vice chair. In addition, he will continue to represent LSU on the Shaw Center for the Arts Board of Directors, serving as the chairman of the board.
Baudin will continue to represent LSU in retirement, serving on the boards of the Shaw Center for the Arts and the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana.
"Dr. Baudin has a long and distinguished history of service to LSU," said Chancellor Michael Martin. "His impact on the university has been positive, profound and permanent. Despite his retirement, we know and trust Jerry will remain a valued member of the LSU family. And of course we wish him well in all his future adventures."
Baudin, who announced his retirement last August, will be succeeded by Eric Monday, the interim vice chancellor designee for finance and administrative services, who previously served as the interim vice chancellor for student life from March 2008 until September 2009.
"Dr. Baudin has been a key leader for the university," said Monday. "His dedication and lasting contributions have made LSU a better place. I wish him happiness and continued success in his retirement."
Baudin credits the people of LSU with making his career at the university so rewarding. Seeing the number of LSU staff members who have worked for the university for more than 25 years proved to him what a wonderful place LSU is to work.
"What's enjoyable about this job are the people," said Baudin "When we can reward them with merit increases for a job well done, there is so much satisfaction. The staff here is unbelievable in their support of this university in both the hard times and the good times."
Although Baudin's job at the university revolved around data and numbers, he never forgot that the people – the students, faculty, staff and visitors – are the driving force behind the success of LSU. Investing in the future, by educating the leaders of tomorrow, is at the heart of the university's mission, and Baudin oversaw the resources that provided for these services throughout the years.
"We're in the people business," he said. "We don't manufacture anything. We're selling a service. It's intangible. We have 28,000 students, 5,000 employees and thousands of visitors; this university is about people. We strive to deliver the best service we can in the classrooms, laboratories, residential halls, parking facilities, etc. Funding comes from parents, the state and many students who work to help cover the cost of their education. These dollars are buying their future. It's the end product that we are most concerned about."
When the Bordelonville native began working for Firnberg in the newly started System Office of Institutional Research, institutional research was a novel concept in higher education. The Office of Institutional Research, which was a joint department working with both the LSU System Office and the Baton Rouge campus, helped gather data about the institution, including information about students, faculty, salaries, teaching loads, facilities, finances, etc., that was molded into usable information that guided the decision making process for the university.
"When I came here, the Office of Institutional Research was housed in the Registrar's Office," said Baudin. "The office consisted of Firnberg, myself and two clerical staff. Shortly thereafter, we moved to Pleasant Hall, hired a graduate assistant and added another analyst. In the 1970s, Bob Kuhn (current associate vice chancellor for budget and planning) joined us, and the office has grown from there."
In 1975, the System Office component of institutional research was divided into two separate offices, with Firnberg remaining as the vice president for institutional research with the LSU System Office and Baudin taking over as director of the Baton Rouge campus Office of Institutional Research.
One of the biggest changes during his tenure came in 1981 when James Wharton became LSU's chancellor. A former dean, Wharton saw the value and uses of data and moved preparation and oversight of the university's budget from the finance area to institutional research, which reported directly to the chancellor. At that time, the office became known as the Office of Budget and Planning.
"He valued the need to put data and dollars together," Baudin said of Wharton. "He thought that information and data should be the driving force on allocating university resources. This was especially the case when we began experiencing the first of several budget cuts in the 1980s."
In 1987, the Office of Budget and Planning moved back under the finance area, and Wharton promoted Baudin to vice chancellor for business affairs and comptroller, overseeing budget and planning. Baudin's title was later changed to vice chancellor for finance and administrative services and comptroller.
During Baudin's tenure, LSU has seen many changes and gone through its share of ups and downs. The university has seen its budget go from around $60 million in 1967 to more than $400 million currently. The student population has almost doubled over the last 42 years to some 28,000 today, all while increasing admission standards, which started in the late 1980s.
"One of the most significant changes at LSU was the implementation of admissions standards, going from needing only a high school diploma to having increasing requirements for ACT scores and high school GPA. " Baudin said. "Dr. Wharton took a tremendous stand on that because it was the right thing to do in the 1980s. He changed the focus of this place, and the standards have continued to increase."
"When you look at what the university has done to increase the admission criteria, the result has been a significant increase in the quality of the student body and dramatically improved the graduation rate," said Baudin. "I think the citizens of Louisiana want LSU to be the flagship and to be competitive with other flagship institutions. To be competitive, you have to have quality at all levels and that is what we all work for day in and day out."
While working for LSU, Baudin took the opportunity to return to school. Although it was tough to balance the rigors of the MBA and Ph.D. programs with a career and a family with two young children, Baudin eventually earned his master's degree in business administration in 1971 and a doctoral degree in accounting in 1982, both from LSU.
"It was very hard work," Baudin said of returning to school. "I think it was just the challenge to prove that I could do it, but in the end, it was a relief when I was awarded the doctoral degree. I encourage those who are employed at the university to seize the opportunity to further their education."
One of the most surprising job assignments of Baudin's career came in 2001. For seven months, from January until August, he worked as the interim athletic director, serving between the retirement of Joe Dean and the start of Skip Bertman's tenure.
"It was probably the most unique change in duties I had at LSU and something I had never envisioned happening," said Baudin. "It came as a complete surprise to me. We were at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta around the New Year, and LSU was hosting a function for the bowl dignitaries. At that function, Chancellor Mark Emmert informed me that he solved the vacant athletic director's job, and that Skip Bertman was going to become the new A.D. But, Skip couldn't take the job until August and said that in three days I was going to be interim athletic director. That came as a complete shock to me.
"When we returned to work in January, I assumed the athletic director duties. The people I dealt with in the A.D.'s office were great. Skip worked with me on and off while he was coaching baseball that season. I met every coach privately, and I still have a great relationship with all the coaches that are still here. We blended well during those seven months, and I still have a close relationship with the staff. It was an opportunity I'll never forget."
As Baudin concludes his tenure at LSU, he reflected on his career while remaining always humble. He recognized his colleagues and acknowledged the role of collaboration in his many successes.
"There have been tremendous changes at LSU in my 42 years, but I can't credit myself with anything; I credit the staff I have worked for and with," said Baudin. "You can't make anything happen yourself. Anything that is developed and implemented is the result of a number of people's thinking and much elbow grease from those involved to get it done. I'm going to miss the friendships and the closeness with people. There have been and still are outstanding people working for this great university. Forever LSU and Geaux Tigers."
Melissa Foley | Editor | Office of Communications & University Relations