LSU Transition Advisory Team Meets Tuesday, May 21

05/22/2013 08:52 AM

BATON ROUGE – LSU’s Transition Advisory Team held their seventh meeting on Tuesday, May 21, in the LSU Business Education Complex. The meeting was streamed live via the Internet for those who could not attend and meeting archives are available at

William Jenkins, interim president of the LSU System and interim chancellor of LSU, delivered opening comments and introduced Richard White, dean of the LSU E. J. Ourso College of Business, who welcomed the group to the Business Education Complex and provided an overview of the college.

White said that the new business building has the changed the culture of the college with the students staying on-sight more by studying together, communicating more with each other and taking advantage of networking opportunities.

“This building is about the future and that’s what you gentlemen and ladies are involved with here,” White said. “It fits with where LSU is going.”

White also highlighted the 30 percent-plus increase in enrollment for the E. J. Ourso College of Business, as well as a significant jump in the rankings for the LSU MBA program. He credited the improvement to the excellent reputation that LSU graduates have with top employers who help to shape the rankings, noting that they have strong technical and analytical skills coupled with people skills that are critical to success in the workplace.

The Transition Advisory Team meeting focused on sub-committee updates and a review of key priorities.  

Christel Slaughter of SSA Consultants led the team through a review of the LSU2015 process and what’s taken place. She said it is a time to reflect and a time to look forward.

The team reviewed the three major objectives that were given by the LSU Board of Supervisors. These include develop a vision for a world class university; identify elements critical to remaining competitive in the higher education environment of the future; and recommend best-practice organizational models for a multi-campus flagship university.

“At the end of the day, this is what our work will be measured against by the Board of Supervisors,” Slaughter said.

Slaughter also reviewed the LSU’s Transformation Imperatives and the LSU2015 timeline, showing that the Transition Team is on track with the projected process.

Jim Firnberg and Shelby Mckenzie, co-chairs of the Legal and Regulatory Sub-Committee, provided a report on their sub-committee’s findings and a letter that was sent from their sub-committee to Jenkins on SACSCOC matters and reorganization.

Firnberg reviewed the meetings that have taken place with SACS representatives and the findings from those meetings. He highlighted the implications of reorganization on the SACS reaffirmation process and the general recommendation is to continue with current reaffirmation processes. This does not preclude all campuses in the system being involved in ways to implement the findings of the Transition Advisory Team process that would improve administrative efficiencies but don’t affect reaffirmation.

Firnberg said they would like to have SACS appoint a single point of contact for LSU as it goes through this process and that the appropriate substantive change documents would be filed with that assigned person.

Jenkins said that SACS needs to be a partner as LSU moves ahead, but that LSU needs to find its own model for the future.

“We have to create LSU’s organization,” he said. “We don’t have to mimic somebody else.”

Given the fact that SACS noted that LSU could continue its efforts to find efficiencies in its administrative services areas, two speakers were invited to address the Transition Advisory Team, Brian Nichols, chief information officer at LSU, to focus on using technology to improve services and reduce costs and Donna Torres, associate vice chancellor for accounting and financial services at LSU, to discuss shared services that are taking place within the system currently. She said that many people are surprised that there is so much sharing of administration already.

“The university is a complex entity but by having these shared services … we really have been able to take advantage of economies of scale,” Torres said.

“There are some ways that LSU operates that are different than a typical state agency.” Torres added.

In the afternoon, the team heard reports from some of the Transition Advisory Team Sub-Committees chairs.

Dr. Lester Johnson, professor and chief of surgery and director of Surgical Services at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center – Monroe, provided the report from the Academic Sub-Committee. He reviewed the charge and key priorities given to the sub-committee and outlined the findings from the sub-committee’s meetings.

Johnson said that the conclusions of their discussions are both “a challenge and an opportunity for a One LSU System.”

Firnberg, chancellor emeritus of LSU-Alexandria, provided the report from the Research and Discovery Sub-Committee, which held four meetings to hear about research taking place on all the system campuses.

The sub-committee came up with six areas of research interest for LSU2015, and these included Coastal and Environmental Science; Biological, Biotechnology and Biomedical Research; Energy; Arts & Humanities; Computation & Digital Media; and Renewable Natural Resources.

Firnberg outlined the issues LSU is facing regarding research: faculty and support staff, finances, and infrastructure.

“Those are the three major impediments to us making progress in research,” he said.

Lt. Gen. Russel Honore’ provided the report from the Student Experience Sub-Committee. Honore’ said his committee focused on the most important people on campus and that’s the students.

The Student Experience Sub-Committee reviewed student recruitment in-state and out-of-state; student retention and graduation rates; and workforce and career opportunities. Part of the student experience presentation included a chart on in-state total estimated expenses in comparison to SEC peers and sample comments on student recruitment and current enrollment.

The Transition Advisory Team also heard from Nichols with an update from the Technology Task Force. Nichols highlighted the proposed recommendations of the task force.

The top recommendation was to complete the investigative process recommended by the external consultant with the goal of moving to a unified enterprise solution over the long-term and adopt hosted/outsourced IT system support models where practical.

“This is the one, as a group, that we have talked about in every one of our meetings,” said Nichols, who added that the goal is to do what’s best for everyone for the long-term.

A new unified enterprise solution can enhance financial systems at the administrative level, along with student experience across all of the system campuses. The largest benefit of a unified enterprise solution is that the campuses can share and access data, which would be a tremendous asset for collaborative research across campuses.

“If we want to be a great university, we have to do this,” said Lee Griffin, president and CEO of the LSU Foundation and co-chair of the Finance & Revenue Sub-Committee.

Other recommendations of the Technology Task Force include moving to a single tenant email deployment for central email services; consider unifying telephone systems; research data management; and network bandwidth requirements.

The meeting concluded with a discussion about the final report to the Board of Supervisors and funding and alternative revenue sources that other universities are utilizing to retain talented faculty and their federal research dollars.

Slaughter referenced best practices research that was shared at earlier meetings and encouraged Transition Advisory Team members to think strategically about how to leverage revenue sources other than state general funds and tuition dollars to enable LSU to reach its potential. Other universities are generating revenue through five or six common methods such as monetizing assets, recruiting out of state students and increasing fundraising contributions.

Clarence Cazalot, president and CEO of Marathon Oil, suggested substituting corporate funding for valued research efforts if federal funds for research are not currently available.  

The Transition Advisory team is a 10-member panel tasked with providing information to the LSU Board of Supervisors to facilitate the reshaping of the LSU System.

The team held its initial meeting on Jan. 8, an Immersion Workshop on Feb. 7, its third meeting on Feb. 19 and its fourth meeting with Ohio State University President Gordon Gee by Skype on March 5. The team met for the fifth time April 16 in a meeting that featured Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute, and Stephen Moret, Secretary of Louisiana Economic Development, and then a partial group met on April 19 with representatives from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or SACS.

Agendas for this and all LSU2015 sub-committee and task force group meetings can be found at The names of Transition Advisory Team members are available at

More information on LSU’s reorganization process can be found at Information on the site includes meeting schedules, minutes and video and presentations from past meetings. Also, visit LSU’s reorganization Facebook page at

Ernie  Ballard 
LSU Media Relations

Posted on Wednesday, May 22, 2013