LSU, LPB Presents Forever LSU Documentary as Part of Sesquicentennial Celebration


LSU is an institution rich in history, having seen many landmark moments in its 150 years of operation, as well as paving the way for many other historical moments in Louisiana and worldwide.

As part of LSU’s sesquicentennial celebration of the founding of the university, Louisiana Public Broadcasting and LSU have joined forces to create an hour-long documentary on the rich history of the university.

Forever LSU premiered Wednesday, March 10, across the seven-channel LPB network, including WLPB in Baton Rouge and WLAE in New Orleans. It will have encore showings on WLPB on the following dates: Thursday, March 11, at 8:30 p.m.; Sunday, March 14, at 4:30 p.m.; and Monday, April 19, at 10 p.m.

During the premiere, LSU volunteers were on hand at LPB’s studios in Baton Rouge to answer telephone pledge calls.

The program was also streamed online as part of the March 10 premiere. at LPB’s Web site, www.lpb.org.

The LSU Sesquicentennial Student Sub-Committee, in cooperation with LSU Campus Life, also hosted a premiere viewing of the documentary in the Live Oak Lounge, located in the LSU Student Union.

Directed by award-winning LPB Senior Producer/Director Tika Laudun (Louisiana: A History), the documentary was a cooperative effort between LPB and LSU.

"As a storyteller I tend to be attracted to characters like the Boyds, who are up against odds from which many would turn away," Laudun said. “Their life-long commitments and more-often-than-not struggles to build the university that we have today provide us with a wonderful model of dedication to a belief in the importance of higher education. ‘Forever LSU’ is a depiction of the people of LSU and their significant contributions to Louisiana’s rich cultural history.”

The documentary was co-produced by LSU’s Ed Dodd and Lane Barry of the LSU Office of Communications & University Relations and co-written by Barry and C.E. Richard. LPB’s Keith Crews was the editor for the project, with principal videography by Frank Bourgeois of the LSU Office of Communications & University Relations.


Directed by award-winning LPB Senior Producer/Director Tika Laudun (Louisiana: A History), the documentary was a cooperative effort between LPB and LSU.

“As we teamed with the extraordinarily talented staff of LSU’s Office of Communications & University Relations, we found ourselves on a road of exploration and discovery,” Laudun said. “With the expert guidance of LSU Professor of History Paul Hoffman, Associate Dean of Libraries Faye Phillips and University Assistant Archivist Barry Cowan, we were able to tell a story that we feel our audience will appreciate for many years.”

The colorful story of LSU starts in 1860 in Pineville, when the State Seminary of Learning was founded as a small military academy whose first superintendent was William Tecumseh Sherman, later infamous for the burning of Atlanta during the Civil War.

After the Civil War, the school struggled to survive with enrollment dropping to single digits. However, a merger with the Louisiana State Agricultural and Mechanical College, orchestrated by President David Boyd, allowed the college to expand and set up residence in downtown Baton Rouge on a 20-acre site that included the Pentagon Barracks. Boyd was eventually fired and replaced by his younger brother, Thomas. Two major events happened in 1924, when the campus moved its current location and Tiger Stadium was constructed.

The storied athletic tradition of LSU gained national prominence in 1908, when Doc Fenton led the football team to an undefeated season. Since then, the football team has won a national title in 1958 behind Billy Cannon — who went on to become the university’s first and only Heisman Trophy winner to date in 1959 —and Bowl Championship Series titles in 2003 and 2007. The LSU baseball team has six national titles, five under the leadership of former head coach Skip Bertman and one under current head coach Paul Mainieri, and the men’s and women’s track teams have combined for 26 NCAA championships. The men’s and women’s basketball teams have been to the NCAA Final Four a combined nine times and produced legendary figures like “Pistol” Pete Maravich, Bob Petit, Shaquille O’Neal and Seimone Augustus.

The Golden Band from Tiger Land has its own national championship. It became a major unit when Gov. Huey Long hired Castro Carazo to run the band and demanded that it be expanded to 125 pieces.

The documentary also cites major events such as the enrollment of the first female student in 1904 and the first black student in 1953. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the campus was truly integrated with Kerry Pourciau’s election as Student Government Association President in 1972.

The documentary also features interviews with nearly 40 members of the LSU community, ranging from alumni to current professors and officials. They include Paul Hoffman, LSU professor of history and consulting scholar on the project; LSU alumnus and Academy Award-winning film music composer Bill Conti; Elaine Durbin Abell, the first female LSU Student Government president; A. P. Tureaud Jr., LSU’s first African American undergraduate; former LSU Tiger football coach Paul Dietzel; former LSU baseball coach and athletic director Skip Bertman; current Senior Associate Athletic Director and Associate Vice Chancellor for Communications & University Relations Herb Vincent; current LSU Chancellor Michael Martin; Chancellors Emeritus Paul Murrill and James Wharton; LSU architecture professor and campus historian Michael Desmond; landscape architecture professor Van Cox; notable LSU graduate and businessman Lod Cook; LSU alumnus and retired FBI Special Agent in charge of the Norfolk field office Cassandra Chandler; and many more.

For more information on the documentary, contact Bob Neese at LPB at 1-800-272-8161.

The Forever LSU documentary premiere is one of several signature activities taking place throughout 2010 as part of the university's Sesquicentennial Celebration. Sesquicentennial-related events throughout the year are made possible thanks to generous donations to the university by the following sponsors: Campus Federal Credit Union, Baton Rouge Coca Cola Bottling Company, AT&T, Raising Cane’s, ExxonMobil, Entergy and Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

For more information on Forever LSU and LSU’s Sesquicentennial Celebration, visit www.lsu150.com.

 

Aaron Looney | Editor | Office of Communications & University Relations
March 2010