LSU Announces Plan for Moving Forward in Face of State Budget Shortfalls
BATON ROUGE – LSU Chancellor Michael Martin, in anticipation of continuing state revenue shortfalls that will result in the downsizing of budgets for state agencies and universities, has announced a three-part strategy for the future of LSU called “The LSU Plan for Greater Impact on Louisiana.” The plan is designed to create a stronger university that can meet the needs of the state by helping to create a more vibrant economy through the production of an energetic workforce and business leaders who will produce jobs for the state as well as more robust research that will benefit Louisiana, the nation and the world.
Following Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent announcement of the LA GRAD act for reforming higher education in the state, LSU’s strategy will be multi-faceted, incorporating several aspects proposed by the Governor. The plan focuses on three primary components: change, focus and autonomy.
Understanding that it intends to maintain a tier-one research university despite reduced resources, LSU plans to evaluate the way in which it operates – from what it buys to what it spends. With a more business-like approach, the university will look to streamline costs with the expectation that continued performance will be rewarded.
This aspect of the plan contains efficiency and entrepreneurial initiatives, designed to reduce costs and increase revenues for institutional support. The efficiency aspect will focus on areas such as energy use, strategic sourcing, fleet reduction, improved human resource options and other items that could be streamlined. Entrepreneurship will focus on areas such as online degree programs, land and facilities management and grants and contracts. The university will also streamline its fund-raising model and seek to bolster LSU’s endowment for more financial security in the future.
Building on that business-like approach, LSU will look to sharpen focus and explore the reallocation of funds to areas in which the university enjoys a competitive advantage. The goal is to reallocate a minimum of $10 million over the next several years.
LSU is in the process of reviewing all academic programs, centers and institutes. Not all academic units receive state funding, but those that do will be reviewed first. The university will also seek to eliminate subsidies to certain ancillary units such as the Child Care Center and museums in order to make them self-sufficient, with the LSU Athletic Department and other auxiliaries as a model.
Recruitment strategies will also be reviewed, with an emphasis on graduate and transfer students, as well as recruiting more high achieving undergraduate students.
The university’s strategies on retention and graduation rates will also be expanded with a refined enrollment management system to be implemented that will help students get their courses in a timely manner and identify students who may be struggling.
While it is difficult for public higher education institutions to truly be as flexible as private industry, LSU will seek to be given the tools to be more agile in its business operation.
Tools that can help provide that flexibility while maintaining a performance-based accountability include authority over tuition and fees and the ability to streamline administrative bureaucracy. Some examples include allowing budget surpluses to carry forward into the next fiscal year and streamlining the laws and rules for the procurement of information technology, which can assist LSU with supercomputing and the acquisition of academic- and research-related hardware.
University leaders believe that this strategy will best equip LSU to effectively deal with instability in state funding; ensure that the university is focused on academic and programmatic efforts that are in line with the Flagship Agenda and representative of the institution’s current and future goals; and establish and maintain campus criteria for consistent evaluation and exploration of opportunities to become more efficient/entrepreneurial and to increase university revenue generation.