LSU Board approve ag merger

Some 40 years since its split, the LSU AgCenter and the university’s College of Agriculture are on the road to a consolidation.

The LSU Board of Supervisor agreed to the move Friday, setting in motion a change which university officials said would give the enterprise a greater impact in the agriculture area.

The AgCenter supports Louisiana businesses and the overall state economy through agricultural research. The College of Agriculture prepares students for careers in the field.

Many of the details remain to be worked out. The change will come in two phases with implementation of administrative oversight scheduled for completion by Oct. 8, then planning and transition by March 26. A report is scheduled to be given to the LSU Board in May.

Just before the LSU Board vote, AgCenter professor of animal science Ken McMillin said the faculty is prepared to “fully endorse” the consolidation “provided that faculty is involved in the deliberations.”

McMillin said many faculty members have appointments with each entity and have worked under a dual administrative structure.

LSU Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Stuart Bell praised the faculty and staff of each entity. But, Bell said, the entities “are not as coordinated as they should be.”

About 1,400 students are part of an AgCenter program. “We did not know about them. We didn’t take advantage from an A&M (campus) standpoint,” Bell said.

AgCenter Chancellor Bill Richardson called the consolidation “the right step forward” and one that will “allow us to codify the mission and do a lot of outreach of LSU throughout this state.”

The resolution adopted by the LSU Board authorizes consolidation of the administration of the AgCenter and College of Agriculture; and approves consolidation of the positions of AgCenter chancellor and College of Agriculture dean into a single new vice president’s position.

The board also gave LSU President F. King Alexander the authority to determine an effective date for the consolidation and to address transition issues. Alexander would submit recommendations to the board of actions needed to implement the plan.

Previously, Alexander said the merger would allow LSU “ to broaden the scope of services offered through extension to include more business, education and health-related opportunities, along with the traditional agriculture services.”