A Message from Dr. William Jenkins: LSU Reorganization

11/15/2012 03:45 PM

The LSU System leadership has been engaged in discussions regarding realignment and restructuring of the LSU System, as I am sure many of you are aware. As we navigate through this historic change, communication will be a critical element to success. So I am writing to update you on the status of this reorganization, and perhaps clarify some misconceptions that have led to concerns.




Let me be clear about the goal: to bring together the resources of the various units of the current LSU System to create a single, globally competitive LSU with statewide reach that is more efficient and more productive in the areas of educating its students, creating robust collaborative research, delivering effective health care, impacting economic development and conducting public service activities.


Think of all of the great things going on at the LSU System campuses in Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Alexandria and Eunice; the tremendous work being done at Pennington; the promising students graduating from the Law Center and our Medical Schools; the statewide service provided by the AgCenter and the health care delivered by our hospitals.


Now imagine for a moment the resources of all of those units -- the passion of the LSU spirit and the mind power that makes all of those units so great individually -- and combine them into a common purpose of a new unified LSU. It would be an LSU that still serves all of those individual communities, but now with the exponential muscle of a statewide institution.  That is the goal of the “One LSU.”




Three important steps by the LSU Board of Supervisors will point LSU into its new direction.


FIRST, it is considering the consolidation of the positions of President of the LSU System and Chancellor of LSU into one position titled “President of LSU.”  A search committee has been formed and a search firm has been hired to seek out the unique person who can shape and guide this new LSU.


SECOND, it adopted six guiding goals and principles on which it will base decisions regarding the realignment and reorganization of LSU. These goals and principles can be found at www.lsu.edu/goals.


THIRD, the Board requested the creation of a Transition Advisory Team to begin to move the institution toward this new structure. A number of subcommittees will be formed to provide information to the Transition Advisory Team, a process critical for seeking inclusion of ideas from across the LSU System.




The benefits are many that come with the leveraged use of system-wide resources into the single purpose of establishing a nationally and internationally recognized institution.


STUDENTS will benefit from numerous aspects of this plan. Graduate and professional students will seamlessly be able to conduct research with faculty where it may not have been possible before. Undergraduates will have access to the best teachers and courses, whether it is through traditional or distance means. Common course numbering will ease transfer within the various components of the university and student aid will be better coordinated.


A stronger university will be able to recruit and retain the best faculty, invest in capital improvements and generally provide an educational experience that will make an LSU diploma even more valuable for our graduates when they enter the workforce.


THE ACADEMIC MISSION of the university will benefit from an organizational structure that can better identify those things that provide academic excellence and promote faculty collaboration. Eventually there will be a single regional accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and there will be national reporting of institutional data on a consolidated basis to improve national rankings.


It should also be mentioned here that academic autonomy will be a priority in this reorganization. Management of curriculum and admissions will remain in the domain of the faculty.


RESEARCH will benefit from hiring and placement of faculty that can best serve the common mission and with greater opportunity for interdisciplinary research. Research administration will be eased through coordinated Institutional Review Boards. Researchers will have better universal control of grants and contracts. And in the area of intellectual property, the ideas produced by LSU and its researchers can reach the market in a more efficient manner and new opportunities can be created by bundling related technologies.


THE ADMINISTRATIVE FUNCTION of the university will benefit from a more efficient structure, one that looks to reduce bureaucracy rather than increase it. It will aim to reduce unnecessary duplication of administrative functions to create better efficiency across the state, contributing to cost savings.




An organizational chart that was developed by our consultant, the Association of Governing Boards (AGB), has caused considerable discussion and concern.  I must bring to your attention the title of that page: “One suggested way to organize the new LSU.” It is just that – only one suggested way it could be organized.


The AGB report will be used as a roadmap, not a final organizational structure, for our future. We will use the reports provided by AGB to point us in a direction for reorganizing LSU. Some parts of the org chart will likely be implemented; other parts are flawed and will be adjusted or discarded.


There has been concern about lost autonomy for some units with a new organizational structure. The goal is to create a structure that identifies and facilitates elements to give each component its greatest opportunity for success. It is important to adopt business principles that will give authority to the lowest levels of the organizational chart to make autonomous decisions thereby offsetting any perceived loss of organizational autonomy.




As state dollars for higher education in Louisiana and across the country have continued to shrink, it is incumbent upon all of us to leverage our financial and human resources to remain competitive and to provide our students with the education and collegiate experience they deserve.


This process will take considerable effort from all corners of the LSU System. Some portions of this restructuring can take place with relative quickness, but other portions will take much longer to accomplish. I encourage your thoughtful participation. We cannot look back. We must move with great deliberation, but with a sense of urgency and a single purpose of doing what is best for LSU, our students and ultimately the people of Louisiana.


If you have comments about this plan or suggestions, please write to president@lsu.edu. Regrettably, a response cannot be promised to every email, but each one will be read.


William Jenkins, interim LSU president and chancellor

Posted on Thursday, November 15, 2012