LSU Transition Advisory Team Looks at the Academic and Research Elements of LSU at Feb. 19 Meeting
BATON ROUGE – LSU’s Transition Advisory Team held their third meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 19, in the Abell Board Room of the Lod Cook Alumni Center. The meeting was focused on the academic and research elements of the university, which are two parts of the three-fold mission of LSU, with the third being public service.
The meeting was opened with an overview of the public higher education systems in Louisiana to help facilitate discussion on the similarities and differences of the LSU 2015 reorganized model and the definitive role outlined for the state’s flagship university. As defined in the Board of Regents 2011 Master Plan, Louisiana’s flagship institution is the premiere public research university.
The flagship university is expected to provide leadership in higher education in the state; practice highly selective admissions; offer a wide variety of undergraduate programs; offer an extensive number of master’s and doctoral programs; maintain an appropriate mix of undergraduate, graduate and professional students; and sponsor a broad range of research programs.
The Transition Advisory Team heard a presentation from a panel of internal subject matter experts to provide a better understanding of the academic and research missions of the university.
The panel included Gaines Foster, dean of the LSU College of Humanities & Social Sciences, who discussed the role of humanities in higher education; Thomas Klei, Boyd Professor and interim vice chancellor for research and economic development at LSU, who discussed excellence in the research mission of higher education; and Stuart Bell, LSU executive vice president and provost, who discussed excellence in the academic mission of higher education.
The defining message during the panel discussion on the university’s academic and research mission was that it is all about people.
“If you are focused on anything, just know it’s all about people – the people we have at the university today and the people not here who need to be here tomorrow,” Bell said.
In his talk on the role of humanities and social sciences, Foster said researchers and students study human behavior, and the overall goal of LSU’s programs is to help create better citizens.
“A modern complex university trains people in a lot of different skills; there are still a core of goals,” Foster said. “We want to give our students the skills, perspectives and the knowledge to live rich, full lives.”
In addition to studying human behavior, students learn more about themselves and about other cultures and societies. By creating better citizens and leaders, this in turn creates a stronger community and a better state.
Klei provided an overview of the Office of Research and Economic Development and its areas of focus, which include the coast, materials science, energy, biotechnology and biomedical sciences.
Klei said that what differentiates LSU from other universities in the state is the selection of faculty. Research expertise and the desire to conduct research are of the utmost importance when recruiting and attaining faculty.
According to Klei, faculty currently interact well regardless of where they are located, and the reorganization will help to further break down barriers, increase interaction and reduce duplications.
Bell said no matter how the reorganization process ends up, it has to increase LSU’s ability to recruit the best.
“We go out as a flagship university and truly recruit a different student than other universities,” said Bell, who noted that LSU’s product is graduates.
There is an importance on finding LSU’s focus and target specific focus areas. Bell said if the university’s research is about anything, it needs to be about the coast. LSU is prepared to be one of the top universities in the nation for coastal research.
In discussing alumni achievements and the potential for alumni giving, Bell said that alumni continue to turn back to the foundation they received at the state’s flagship university in helping them to achieve their successes.
“As the flagship university, research and discover are key to what we are, but we meld that with our teaching, with our education, and the graduates we have, you wouldn’t find anywhere else in the state,” he said.
The Transition Advisory Team held group discussions on the vision and tenants for LSU 2015 and was given a status update on the sub-committee meeting structure and meetings held to date.
The Transition Advisory team, a 10-member panel tasked with providing information to the LSU Board of Supervisors to facilitate the reshaping of the LSU System, held its first meeting on Jan. 8 and held an Immersion Workshop on Feb. 7.
The next meeting of the Transition Advisory Team is Tuesday, March 5, from 4 to 9 p.m. in the Lod Cook Alumni Center Abell room. The guest speaker will be Gordon Gee, president of The Ohio State University. All Transition Advisory Team meetings are available online via live streaming video for those who cannot attend in person.
More information on LSU’s re-organization process can be found at www.lsu.edu/LSU2015. Information on the site includes meeting schedules, minutes and video and presentations from past meetings.