A long-awaited presentation that was supposed to spell out how LSU can position itself to become a “globally competitive research enterprise” came and went without discussion Friday during LSU’s Board of Supervisors meeting.
Consultant Christel Slaughter recapped a 10-page summary of the LSU Transition Advisory Team’s findings in 15 minutes. The team looked at how best to restructure the LSU System’s $3.5 billion network of four university campuses, a law school, two medical schools, a biomedical research center, numerous hospitals and dozens of outpatient medical clinics.
The summary document, which was released publicly just prior to it being discussed, had a smattering of specifics on how the LSU System would be reconfigured, but largely contained broad objectives. The full report has not been released.
Priorities, such as “generate new revenue” and “improve student retention and graduation rates,” were followed by bullet points that suggest “monetizing” parking lots and residence halls and enhancing libraries and recreational centers, according to the summary.
Other parts of the document were more specific. One suggestion is to “recruit aggressively for all campuses.” The summary explains that LSU has 12 full-time recruiters, compared with similar schools that employ between 30 and 45 recruiters.
The summary says the university would recoup the cost of hiring one recruiter for every three out-of-state students persuaded to enroll at LSU.
The report says 39 percent of the University of Alabama’s student population is from out-of-state, while LSU’s percentage is only 19 percent.
“If LSU increased its percentage to match Alabama’s, LSU could generate approximately $100 million in additional revenue,” the summary says.
Slaughter’s presentation received two rounds of applause from LSU’s Board of Supervisors, but not a single question.
The idea of restructuring LSU from top to bottom has been floating around for years but gained momentum in October when the Association of Governing Boards, a consulting group out of Washington, D.C., proposed that LSU ditch its model of separate and autonomous campuses in favor of a consolidated “flagship system.”
LSU’s different units act, more or less, on their own under the current structure.
The AGB proposal spelled out a massive realignment of administrative positions who would all report to a single CEO at the top.
In January, three months after the AGB report was released, the Transition Advisory Team started studying what LSU could do to become a global competitor. Its work, presumably, was based on AGB’s suggestions.
But AGB’s suggestions weren’t addressed in the summary report released Friday. And while Slaughter said she expects to present a more comprehensive version of the Transition Advisory Team’s findings to LSU’s board at a later date, she acknowledged that the group worked mostly on LSU’s culture and not on its structure.
“Our culture is slow, risk-averse and fragmented,” Slaughter said. “LSU needs to be innovative and creative.”
LSU Board Chairman Hank Danos said he was satisfied with Friday’s presentation.
“Today we were served up with different opportunities, but how we execute it has yet to be determined,” Danos said. “It’s an evolving process.”