Streamlining, Commercialization and External Affairs Task Force Groups Hold Second Meetings
BATON ROUGE – The second meetings of three task force groups of the Transition Advisory Team took place on Thursday, April 11, at the LSU AgCenter. Three task force groups, Streamlining Procedures, Rules and Regulations; Commercialization and Technology Transfer; and External Affairs, are part of the LSU 2015 process for the reorganization of LSU.
The meeting was streamed live via the Internet for those who could not attend and meeting archives are available at www.lsu.edu/tat.
Streamlining Procedures, Rules and Regulations Task Force
The Streamlining Procedures, Rules and Regulations Task Force is investigating paper flow, process, authority, and accountability including the by-laws of the Board of Supervisors, presidential memorandums and campus policy statements.
Bill Silvia, chair of the Technology & Operations Subcommittee, welcomed the group and kicked off the Streamlining Procedures, Rules and Regulations Task Force meeting. He said it was an exciting day because the group was receiving two reports that are part of the beginning of transformational change for the LSU System.
The first report, “Recommendations for Processing Personnel Transactions,” was given by Ann Coulon, vice chancellor for administration at the LSU AgCenter, and Gena Doucet, director of human resource management for the Pennington Biomedical Research Center.
The report presented the results of meetings with the human resource officers from all the LSU campuses. That group looked at four areas:
- Framework for council for chief human resource officers
- General issues they face – streamlining and efficiencies
- Requirements for personnel approval transactions
- All policies related to HR at the System level
They found that there is a need for System human resource officers to meet and form an LSU System Council of Chief Human Resource Officers. They would meet quarterly and use the meetings to discuss new initiatives, review new regulations, discuss best practices, share services, and develop efficiencies, among other strategies.
The human resource officers met three times and lined out general issues that all campuses face. These include:
- Inconsistencies in required documentation
- Duplicate decision-making at multiple levels
- Lengthy delays in implementation of actions
- Need for greater consistency in decisions
- Desire for consistent IT applications for basic payroll and personnel transaction data
- Excessive time and effort to execute actions
- More sharing of resources and a greater overall consistency transactions between campuses
Coulon and Doucet outlined potential remedies for these issues and provided highlights of recommended changes in delegation of authority.
In reviewing the recommended changes in delegation of authority, the group expressed concern to make sure that improvements wouldn’t simply move “bottlenecks” to a different level in the process and felt that the president of LSU should be broadly empowered to act in personnel actions with transparency of reporting to the Board of Supervisors.
“We don’t want to create more bureaucracy,” Silva said.
Coulon and Doucet ended their presentation with a review of policy issues across the system. They discussed the three major groups of policies that exist within the LSU System framework – Presidents Memoranda at the System level; Policy Statements at the campus level; and policies related to the Department of Civil Service, also at the campus level, and noted ways that these policies could be streamlined.
“This is an opportunity for this group to really have an impact in university operations,” Silvia said.
Todd Barre’, director of Budget and Institutional Research for the LSU AgCenter, followed with a review selected Presidential Memoranda (available at http://www.lsusystem.edu/index.php/policies/permanent-memoranda/).
Barre’ said that in looking at the different roles and purposes for the PMs, some are symbolic, some are technical, and others are regulatory.
“We should do a review and follow best practices,” said Barre’, who noted that LSU should look at what other universities have done with their PMs.
In reviewing the policies, Barre’ provided areas for improvements, such as not having campus specific policies listed at the System level, promote a flatter organization, and streamline the design and cross reference other state policies.
“As we streamline, there are some things that modern technology can help,” said Barre’, who added that the webpage would require upkeep and maintenance.
As LSU moves forward with redesigning these memoranda, the policies need to be designed to move the organization forward. Barre’ said that if the policies are well thought out and designed, they would allow the Board of Supervisors to focus on the bigger picture and the university’s strategic vision and delegate day-to-day operations to the campuses.
Commercialization and Technology Transfer Task Force
The Commercialization and Technology Transfer Task Force is focusing on removing barriers, stimulating discovery and increasing deal flow. By-laws of the LSU Board of Supervisors, external reports, pre-angel capital and research of communication best practices are being reviewed.
The task force heard a presentation from Jason El Koubi, assistant secretary for Louisiana Economic Development, on LED’s statewide efforts.
“In terms of the kinds of economic opportunities Louisiana has, the landscape has changed significantly, just in the last few years,” El Koubi said. “It’s changed in volume and also in quality ... there’s a response that needs to happen there and is happening in our higher education system.”
El Koubi provided an overview of the successes LED has had recently in bringing business and industry to Louisiana and outlined the growth sectors that LED has focused, including clean technology, advanced manufacturing, water management, and next generation natural gas.
El Koubi said some of the challenges that Louisiana is facing include making sure there is a workforce to meet needs; providing targeted training that’s relevant and connected to needs of Louisiana’s economy; and investing in innovation, commercialization and technology transfer.
El Koubi said that the image that a university projects about the community is important for when companies are considering locating in the state.
“As LSU advances, so will the image of the state,” he said.
El Koubi shared that it would be beneficial for universities to align programs with the needs of the economy; to improve articulation with other institutions and be flexible about meeting people where they’re at; to make sure degree programs integrate real-world experience and transferable skills; to address obstacles in tech transfer and commercialization; and to continue to attract and maintain world class talent in research and development.
A presentation on the LSU System Research and Technology Foundation was given by the foundation’s executive director Arthur Cooper. Cooper provided the history and an overall overview of the foundation.
The foundation supports infrastructure for research within LSU, works to increase access to capital, and offers tech transfer and technical assistance.
The foundation’s infrastructure includes the Louisiana Emerging Technology Center, Louisiana Digital Media Center and a Research District, and Cooper provided details and specs on each of these facilities, including tenants and future conversions and renovations.
The three areas the foundation is involved regarding access to capital are Louisiana Fund I, tax incentives and providing assistance for startups.
Regarding technology transfer functions, the role of foundations vary across the nation. The LSU System Research and Technology Foundation currently provides assistance after a license is granted. They provide incubator services, business and technical assistance and access to capital. The future role of the foundation needs to be a consensus of the LSU family and can fit the needs of the realigned LSU.
External Affairs Task Force
The External Affairs Task Force is reviewing policy communication, coordination, and branding focusing on governmental relations, message development and marketing, and production/back-office functions.
The task force heard from Frankie Gould, director of publications and communications for the LSU AgCenter, on the AgCenter’s communications program.
According to Gould, LSU AgCenter Communications delivers the educational and research programs, curriculum or information created by LSU AgCenter experts in a form easily accessible to diverse audiences. The office helps Louisiana citizens learn about the quality and variety of services the LSU AgCenter offers to enhance economic development and improve their lives.
LSU AgCenter Communications serves both the experiment station and extension services statewide. The office is made up of three areas that address program issues related to news, video and media relations; publications, photography and design; and marketing. Within these areas, they cover websites, social media, public relations, and training and curriculum development for internal and external audiences.
Among other programs, Gould also talked about their “Get It Growing” services. This special service is aimed at people who want to improve their landscapes, grow flowers and ornamentals or grow vegetables and fruit. This service includes a weekly newspaper column written by horticulturist Dan Gill, a daily (Monday through Friday) 60-second radio spot voiced by Gill, and a weekly 90-second television spot featuring Gill.
Gould provided an overview of publication catalogs and marketing efforts, including their logo development and branding identity. Marketing initiatives include AgMagic, which brings 12,000 people to campus from the Baton Rouge area, and Louisiana Kids Beat, published in newspapers.
In addition to the exhibit in Baton Rouge, AgMagic’s outreach program has been visited by thousands in the Shreveport, Lake Charles, Delhi and Monroe areas with their touring version. The popular AgMagic includes “Animals Produce for You,” “Farming the Waters,” “Plant Products,” “The Louisiana 4-H,” “The Bugs Rule,” “The Farm Gate to Dinner Plate” and “The Body Walk.”
Within their web offerings, the LSU AgCenter has developed four mobile device apps, which include Soybean Weed Insect & Disease Field Guide, Citrus Guide, Rice Scout and Firecast.
The LSU AgCenter Communications office also serves public relations functions, including spokespersons, legislative issues, liaison with internal and external partners, crisis response team, copyright issues, and event promotion. The communications office also has to approve each grant and contract coming through the AgCenter, since they typically involve outreach deliverables.
Herb Vincent, associate vice chancellor for the LSU Office of Communications & University Relations, and Holly Cullen, assistant vice chancellor in the LSU Office of Communications & University Relations, led a discussion during the External Affairs Task Force on the inventory of campus communications capabilities and resources in the LSU System.
Vincent said that in gathering information from each campus, it became clear that each of the offices has their own focus, resources and needs, and there was a real variance amongst the offices.
Cullen delivered a presentation on each institution’s communications functions as provided by the campus communications areas. As part of the presentation, each campus’ logo and tagline was also inventoried.
Silvia noted that cohesive branding needs to be discussed when reviewing the logos being used across the System.
“If we are going to be one LSU, we need to somehow establish our identity as common,” he said.
The task force talked about developing mechanisms for collaboration amongst each communications office and how each can share ideas, resources and best practices in the future. Silvia recommended researching how other universities across the nation are utilizing their communications efforts across campuses and what types of standards they are applying.
During an upcoming meeting, the External Affairs Task Force plans to focus on governmental relations efforts taking place at each campus.
Agendas for this and all LSU2015 sub-committee and task force group meetings can be found at http://www.lsu.edu/LSU2015/subcommittees_meeting_schedule.shtml. The names of Transition Advisory Team Sub-Committee members, along with Task Force Group members, are available at http://www.lsu.edu/LSU2015/subcommittees.shtml.
More information on LSU’s reorganization process can be found at www.lsu.edu/LSU2015. Information on the site includes meeting schedules, minutes and video and presentations from past meetings. Also, visit LSU’s reorganization Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/LSU2015transition.