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Economic Development, Faculty & Staff Focus, Lectures & Seminars, Research, Science & Technology

Richard Billo of UT-Arlington Gives Presentation for ORED Vice Chancellor Position

03/01/2012 03:11 PM

BATON ROUGE – On Feb. 27, Richard Billo, associate vice president for research at the University of Texas at Arlington, presented at an open forum as part of the interview process for the position of vice chancellor in the Office of Research & Economic Development, or ORED. He is the first of three candidates to interview for the role.

Billo’s presentation focused on LSU’s continued quest for national prominence.

“I believe in improving the quality of life for people of Louisiana, the nation and the world, beginning first right here in Louisiana,” said Billo. “That means transforming our science and technology into enterprise.”

Billo mentioned that LSU’s rate of research grants over the past five years has remained relatively level, which he pronounced as a great thing since “everyone else in the U.S. has been dropping like rocks.” He believes that one of the keys to gaining national prominence is the need to develop sustainable growth.

In his current position, one of the techniques he used to sustain the school’s base of researchers was to take the highest-producing 15 young researchers and helped to financially support their work to ensure they stayed at the school

He also touted the importance of mulltidisplinary studies, which he feels are dependent on pairing researchers who share two main criteria:

1) share a love for science and technology,
2) and like each other.

His background in psychology allows him to analyze personalities to help place people in their best working environment.

He pressed upon the need at the university level to have an active communication plan to support the selection of LSU faculty into prestigious national associations, such as the National Academy of Sciences or the National Academy of Engineering.

“You don’t hire [Nobel] Laureates, you make them,” he said.

Billo is a strong proponent of community outreach, which he contends is only valued at an institution when someone in power makes it a priority. For example, he explained that teacher awareness helps university retention rates. First generation students don’t know what to expect and often leave college because they feel overwhelmed. Outreach – in this case, getting quality teachers out to rural schools and properly preparing students – is key.

Billo listed LSU’s existing strengths as:

• Carnegie research extensive university;
• U.S. News & World Report-ranked top-tier institution;
• Land, sea and space grant institution;
• Situated in unique geography;
• Maintains superb faculty and loyal alumni;  
• Has affordable tuition;  
• Populated with exceptional research groups and centers;
• And communicative about successes.

“I’ve never seen a tier one institution with tuition this low,” he said. “Is this a strength? Yes. Is this a weakness? Yes.”

He brought up the strong connection between athletics and academics, discussing the fact that successful athletics programs actually increase enrollment and prominence.

In closing, he reminded the audience that he is relationship-centered, saying that projects come and go, but people stay, explaining that his motto is “tell us what you need, and let’s find a way to get there.”

LSU officials are in the process of conducting a search for the position of vice chancellor for research and economic development. Candidates will participate in a series of interviews with university staff and students, and will also participate in a campus-wide open forum. The presentations will be followed by open question-and-answer sessions led by the candidates.

The remaining candidates Mark Aldenderfer (vita available at, professor and dean for the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, University of California at Merced with an open forum being held March 12 at 3:30 p.m. in Dodson Auditorium, and Morris Foster (vita available at, associate vice chancellor for research and strategic planning at the University of Oklahoma at Norman with an open forum being held March 15 at 4 p.m. in Lockett 2.

After the interviews are completed, the search committee will then send its recommendations to LSU Chancellor Michael Martin and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost John M. Hamilton, who will then select the next vice chancellor.

All faculty, staff and students are encouraged to attend the presentations. Those attending are encouraged to submit an anonymous evaluation form at

For more information regarding the search, including position description, search committee members and candidates’ vitae, please visit

LSU Research Communications