LSU-A chancellor prepares to leave

ALEXANDRIA — David P. Manuel is balancing two worlds this semester as he prepares to leave LSU at Alexandria for Drury University.

Manuel’s last day as chancellor at LSU-A is May 1, after which he will head to Springfield, Mo., to become president of Drury, a private college with an enrollment of around 3,500.

He said the transition has become something of a balancing act, and he’s trying to cover everything before he goes.

“I’m making a lot of lists right now,” Manuel joked.

One list in particular is for Paul Coreil, who becomes interim chancellor at LSU-A on March 1.

“I’m prepping a long list of items — priorities — for the interim chancellor,” Manuel said.

On that list are budget issues and several capital outlay projects.

“(We have) some capital outlay projects we can’t allow to lapse, like the next stage of a drainage project and a complete redo of the fiber-optics system,” Manuel said. “Both will speak to the next 15 years of the campus.”

Manuel said the fiber-optic project is about halfway funded and completed.

Another important project to Manuel is redesigning the 46-year-old James C. Bolton Library.

“We need to keep it alive,” Manuel said.

Last year, donors helped fund a consultant team that visited campus and evaluated the library. The team provided LSU-A with a report on a future redesign.

College libraries are evolving into facilities with interactive elements. Manuel said it is wiser financially to work with existing structures rather than building new ones, so a redesign of the library would be in order.

“It’s the next big project after the MPAC,” Manuel said. “That project was 20 years in the making, and we can’t wait another 20 years on the library.”

The Multi-Purpose Activities Center comprises classrooms, a Black Box Theater, digital labs, art studios and faculty offices. Funding for the 75,000-square foot-building was announced about a month before Manuel stepped into the chancellor position.

As Coreil and Manuel work together for the two months before Manuel departs for Drury, their priority will be the budget, Manuel said.

“We have to make sure the operating budget is not just adequate but also allows us to do creative things,” he said. “We’re always working toward new degree programs.”

Manuel has held the job at LSU-A since 2008, when Robert Cavanaugh retired as chancellor. He said he is proud of his time at the school and the accomplishments that have been made. But he won’t take all the credit.

“This takes a whole campus,” he said. “I think we are all pretty proud of how far the academic infrastructure has come.”

Although Manuel doesn’t start his new job until June 1, he’s been busy preparing for the move since he was named Drury’s president on Oct. 31.

“The transition began right away,” Manuel said. “From the end of last October until I get there in May, that will be six trips my wife and I have made.”

On these trips, he has met with Drury faculty, staff, students and other stakeholders from commencement in December to the executive committee meeting of the university’s Board of Trustees.

“I’ve met with leaders and key constituents,” he said.

He said the long transition has been important in preparing him for the job.

“You can’t show up the day before and start a job,” Manuel said.

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