Our roots continue to grow

Bill Richardon The LSU Campus is dotted with stately oaks. Their branches shade our students studying for tests, our faculty walking from the classroom to the lab and, of course, tailgaters commiserating on a fall Saturday.
Their roots weave beneath the campus, holding together the ground we tread.
The roots of the LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture spread across the state. They stitch together the fabric of agriculture in Louisiana. We represent LSU in each parish of the state where we help farmers grow better crops and gardeners succeed in their endeavors, where we manage and protect natural resources and improve the lives of the people of Louisiana through innovation and education.
Just as the oak represents a strong presence on campus, both the history and tradition of the AgCenter and college are deeply ingrained at LSU. Our legacy goes back to LSU’s first graduating class, which included a planter as one if its five graduates. Many of the buildings that make up our majestic campus are named for early leaders in agriculture. Coates, Dodson, Sturgis, Knapp and Dalrymple are just a few.
Like the oaks, we still stand relevant, ready to answer the needs of a growing population — needs that can only be met with advances in agriculture. Through their research and scholarship, our faculty are answering the call and finding solutions to the problems that a world population of 9 billion presents. These same faculty members are also providing a nurturing and attentive environment where our students can grow and learn.
Our donors and alumni are also stepping up to the challenge. In these pages you will read about the Bain and Legendre families, whose separate gifts will ensure the vitality of Louisiana’s sugarcane industry, which helped build several communities across our state. You also can learn about our alumni who are leaders in their industries and mentors on our campus.
Perhaps you will be moved by the story of the Finley family, who lost their son Kayne Finley to cancer last fall and are endowing a scholarship in his memory. While Kayne was only at LSU for a semester, his courage and determination had a profound effect on our students and faculty. If you are visiting Mike’s habitat, look for the brick the College of Agriculture dean’s staff purchased in Kayne’s name.
Finally, our roots are moving into new places as the LSU AgCenter Global Network positions our institutions as the premier U.S. land-grant system for agriculture and related sciences in Central and Eastern Europe and in Central America and the Caribbean Basin.
In the past you may have received Advances, our annual newsletter, which detailed the wonderful philanthropy benefiting the LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture. This publication will take its place, and while it will continue the tradition of Advances, it will offer so much more. I hope you will enjoy the stories in the Stately Oak and that they will help connect you to the strong roots of agriculture in Louisiana.
Bill Richardson
LSU Vice President for Agriculture and Dean