A Q&A with LSU’s Executive Vice President and Provost Rick Koubek

In meeting with faculty, staff, students, parents and and alumni over the past several weeks I noticed a few common questions during the conversations. In lieu of my blog, I thought I might share those questions and related answers with you. As always, if you have additional questions, please feel free to email me at provost@lsu.edu.

How are we doing on the budget?

The state is having financial issues that may impact LSU, but we will work the problem. The President had success in the special session and continues fighting during the regular session to show the value of LSU to our legislators.   Internally, the budget committee is meeting regularly to determine the specific implications of any budget reductions.

Will tuition/fees be going up?

Perhaps, but first we will review our campus operations and assure the dollars we spend are used effectively and efficiently before raising tuition or fees. For example, we recently began the process of reviewing all staff and administrative positions reporting to the Office of Academic Affairs for overlap and duplication, and the Office Financial and Administrative Services will begin implementing a new enterprise resource system in July, which will net a cost savings to the university. 

Are you implying that LSU will become an expensive private-like school in the future? What about our land grant mission?

The land grant mission is part of our DNA. But, to achieve it moving forward we will need to be quite creative about how we deliver a premier educational experience, support inspired research, scholarship and art, provide compensation for faculty, staff and graduate students that is appropriate for our Flagship status, assure our physical plant is respectable, fulfill our role as a community partner and stay true to our values as a community of scholars….all within our budget.  We will need to be proactive, purposeful and vigilant about this to assure that access to an LSU degree does not ebb from the grasp of students in Louisiana.

I heard LSU is working on a new strategic plan.

I wouldn’t call it a “new” plan, but rather an update to refine and advance our academic identity as a campus. The seed for these conversations began with a series of meetings of the academic deans last fall.  The University Planning Council is working on a framework now and over the next few months there will be a variety of campus engagements to shape this update and we hope to have the document completed early next year.  The purpose is to make sure we know our focus and how to best get there. 

What do you mean “academic identity”?

With 4635 schools listed in the Carnegie Classification, what is uniquely LSU? What is it that we tell students and faculty candidates about LSU that differentiates us?  For example, in the Carnegie Classification there are only 46 public very high intensive universities that are categorized as “balanced” between arts and sciences, with LSU being one of them.  Whether it’s music, coast, social sciences, political communications, engineering or any of our other disciplines, we live in a vibrant laboratory for our research and scholarship.  Our campus is known for a deep sense of community and service.  Companies recruit at LSU to hire their next generation of leaders.   The answer to this question will come from campus discussions, and the UPC is working on it now. 

Any updates on the One LSU?

There is one recent development that I am pleased to share. Starting March1st we began offering a Pathway Program at LSU-Eunice to promising students who don’t meet our admission standards initially.   The LSUE campus has reserved 100 dorm rooms for students in this program and there is a designated counselor to work with Pathway students to facilitate scheduling and transition issues.  They are enrolled as LSUE students and will have to meet our transfer admission standards, but it does provides another path for students who may need a bit more prep work before coming to this campus.