Content tagged “University”

Stepping down

Embattled LSU Alumni Association head Charlie Roberts has resigned.

Lessons from a scandal

There are several lessons to take away from the recent scandal involving Charlie Roberts, the long-time president and CEO of the LSU Alumni Association who resigned earlier this month after being hit with a salacious lawsuit by a former employee/ex-girlfriend.

LSU creating tech and cyber research center to pursue federal, commercial projects

The state and LSU are partnering to create a new technology and cyber research center at the state's flagship university that they hope will land at least $10 million in research contracts by the start of 2016. LSU President F. King Alexander and Gov. Bobby Jindal jointly announced the creation of the LSU Transformational Technology and Cyber Research Center today, saying the goal is for the center to have secured at least $30 million in contracts by July 1, 2017. The center will pursue major federal and commercial research projects in applied technology fields. Initially, it will be funded in part by the state and LSU in a challenge grant configuration by which the state will provide $1 and LSU $0.50 for every $10 in research funds the center attracts in its first three years. The LSU Board of Supervisors still needs to OK the center's creation and funding structure. The center is aiming to raise $34.5 million in funding over its first three years, with $3 million to come from the...

News Alert: LSU Alumni Association dropped from lawsuit

The LSU Alumni Association has been dropped from a lawsuit filed earlier this month against the organization and its former president and CEO, Charlie Roberts, by a one-time employee and former girlfriend of Roberts. In a motion filed late today in 19th Judicial District Court, Kay Heath asks the court to dismiss her claims against the association, though the suit against Roberts will move forward. Heath had vowed in a public statement last week she would drop her suit against the association if it would disassociate itself from Roberts or pressure him to resign. Roberts submitted his resignation letter Wednesday. In her suit, Heath claims Roberts owes her $21,000—money that she was promised if she would resign from her position at the association after her relationship with Roberts began raising eyebrows. —Stephanie Riegel

News Alert: Roberts resigns as LSU Alumni Association president and CEO

Charlie Roberts, the embattled head of the LSU Alumni Association, submitted a letter of resignation to the association's legal counsel this afternoon. The association immediately accepted the resignation, according to a statement from acting CEO Cliff Vannoy. Roberts had taken annual leave after a former employee filed suit against him personally and against the Alumni Association, a non-profit organization independent of LSU, alleging that he had reneged on an agreement to pay her a monthly stipend to compensate her after she was let go by Roberts. The employee, Kay Heath, alleged that she and Roberts had maintained a long-term sexual affair. In the letter, Roberts maintains his innocence and says he is confident he will prevail in the lawsuit Heath has filed against him. “However, I cannot stand by and let my continued active employment be a magnet for her obvious determination to destroy the association,” reads the letter.

LSU and alumni association working jointly on inquiry into lawsuit allegations

In a statement issued earlier today, LSU administration officials announced that Cliff Vannoy, chief operating officer of the LSU Alumni Association, will serve as the association's acting CEO while President and CEO Charlie Roberts is on annual leave. Roberts announced this morning he would take leave so as not to be a distraction to the university while a lawsuit filed earlier this week against him and the association makes it way through the court system. The suit, filed by former association employee Kay Heath, alleges that Roberts and the association owe her money as part of a deal they made with her to end her employment following a long-term sexual relationship with Roberts. In its statement, LSU seeks to underscore the seriousness with which the administration is taking the allegations, saying the university has taken "an immediate inquiry in cooperation with the Alumni...

Embattled LSU Alumni Association leader takes leave

Officials with LSU and with the university's alumni association are expected to release a joint statement later today regarding the association's embattled president and CEO, Charlie Roberts, who has taken annual leave from his position in the wake of a lawsuit and alleged sex scandal. Roberts filed for leave this morning, just one day after his attorney, Mary Olive Pierson, said he would not be resigning from the position he has held for decades. Today, Pierson says Roberts decided to take leave after recognizing the lawsuit would be a distraction for the university. Alumni Association Board Chairman Dr. Fred Rew also says the decision to take leave was Roberts' choice. "He requested this and I accepted it," Rew says. "I am in support of it." But pressure was clearly mounting on Roberts to step down. In a previous conversation late Thursday, Rew said the association was prepared to...

News alert: Roberts taking leave

LSU Alumni Association President and CEO Charlie Roberts is taking annual leave from the position he has held for decades. The move comes in the wake of a lawsuit filed earlier this week against Roberts and the association by a former employee over money she claims she is owed as part of an arrangement to end her employment following a long-term sexual relationship with Roberts. Roberts submitted paperwork to the association earlier this morning, according to his attorney, Mary Olive Pierson, who says the decision to take annual leave was his alone. "He is taking leave so we can defend this lawsuit and get our ducks in a row," Pierson says. "He felt this would become a distraction at the university, and he didn't want that to happen." Read more in Daily Report AM. —Stephanie Riegel

LSU prez: Obama higher education scorecard would end era of misleading prospective students

In a podcast with the London weekly magazine Times Higher Education, LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander praises President Barack Obama's proposal to create a scorecard to rate colleges on graduation rates, affordability and graduate earnings, saying it will bring an end to the practice of mis-selling the benefits of higher education to students and parents. Alexander says that some institutions fear the new ratings system because they have been misleading prospective students and charging tuition fees that are too high. "The era of universities saying 'trust us, we're worth it', is over," he says. "I hear concern from my colleagues at many institutions that really do not want to provide this information to parents, because they are concerned they have overcharged." But given the cost of higher education in the U.S., Alexander says, it is right that such information be shared. "[LSU is] saying look at what our graduates can do, look at what they are doing," he says.

Former employee sues LSU Alumni Association over payoff arrangement for sexual affair

Kay Heath, a former volunteer and contract employee of the LSU Alumni Association, is suing the association and Charlie Roberts, its president and CEO, over money she claims she is owed as part of an arrangement to end her employment following a long-term sexual relationship with Roberts. The alumni association is an independent, nonprofit organization with close ties to the university but operates as a separate agency, and LSU is not named as a defendant. Heath claims Roberts offered her a job at the alumni association to "entice" her to continue a sexual relationship that she and Roberts started while she was still married. The suit alleges Roberts told Heath in April 2012 he had been advised by "certain members of the Association Board" that the relationship was illicit and one of them would have to resign. Roberts told Heath she should be the one to go, the suit alleges. Heath claims that at Roberts' direction, he or the alumni association paid her approximately $83,200 between...

LSU named 'best value' college by 'Forbes'

LSU is among the top "best value" colleges in the nation, according to a new annual ranking issued by Forbes. By looking at a school's quality score—calculated for Forbes' overall annual rankings—divided by the school's published in-state tuition and fees, the magazine identified 25 best value schools—top colleges and universities that deliver the goods without picking your pocket. With an overall rank of 190 out of 650 and an in-state tuition of $7,873, LSU ranked 23rd on the best value list and was accompanied by several other schools in the south, including the University of Florida (9th), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (10th), New College of Florida (12th), Florida State University (13th), the University of Texas at Austin (19th), Texas A&M University (22nd) and North Carolina State University (25th). See the complete...

More La. high school students earning college credits

The number of college credits Louisiana high school students earned this school year through Advanced Placement exams was nearly 25% higher than the previous year, the Louisiana Department of Education announced today. That means more than 1,250 additional college credits were earned by students, compared to 2013, which pushed total credits earned to an all-time high, the department says. Students scored high enough on AP exams to earn 6,410 college credits in 2014, compared to 5,144 in 2013 and 4,112 in 2012. The data released today also show more high school students are taking AP courses and exams, with 28,009 course enrollments in 2014, compared to 23,485 enrollments in 2013. The department says studies show that students who take AP courses and exams are better prepared for college-level courses, more likely to graduate college within four to five years and are more competitive in qualifying for scholarships. The department has

Hearing dates set in Common Core lawsuits

Mid-August hearing dates have been set for dueling lawsuits over Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards in public schools. The Associated Press reports Judge Tim Kelley will hear arguments Aug. 15 in a lawsuit filed by 17 state lawmakers who are seeking an immediate suspension of the multi-state English and math standards in schools. The lawsuit alleges the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the education department did not follow state law to enact Common Core. On Aug. 18, Judge Todd Hernandez will consider arguments in a separate lawsuit filed by parents and teachers who have sued Gov. Bobby Jindal. Their lawsuit alleges Jindal violated the Louisiana Constitution by issuing a series of executive orders aimed at undermining Common Core. BESE on Tuesday voted to join in the effort against the governor, who in turn filed his own lawsuit in an attempt to...

LSU to host its first-ever hackathon next month

For the first time in the university's history, LSU will host a 24-hour hackathon event. To be held on campus Aug. 30-31, GeauxHack was created by a group of undergraduates. "We wanted to organize a student hackathon here because unlike competitive programming competitions, hackathons are more product oriented," event organizer Howard Wang tells Silicon Bayou. "Being students ourselves, we feel that hackathons help turn computer science students into developers." GeauxHack is expecting at least 150 people to register for the event, which is free. All currently enrolled college or university students are eligible to compete, as well as some high school students on a case-by-case basis. GeauxHack is not only the first hackathon for LSU, it's the first such event to take place in Louisiana that is being sanctioned by Major League Hacking, which powers the official student...

Faculty and staff at LSU's flagship campus get pay raise second year in a row

LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander's announcement today that faculty and staff at the flagship campus will get a 3% merit raise in the coming 2014-15 academic year is getting high marks from those inside and outside the university. "This is really good news," says Barry Erwin, president of the Council for A Better Louisiana. "After so long, with universities feeling beat up, morale has been very low at LSU in particular. This will certainly help with morale and retention." Faculty Senate President Kevin Cope cautions that LSU still won't be as competitive as it needs to be on faculty salaries, even with the raise. But he says it's another good step that builds on the momentum created by last year's pay bump, which was a 4% merit increase. "We had already fallen further behind in terms of rewards and compensation than would be made up by this pair of raises," Cope says. "But it is now absolutely clear that the first raise was not a fluke." He adds that he hopes and expects...

News alert: Faculty and staff at LSU's flagship campus get 3% pay raise; second in a year

In a letter to faculty and staff at LSU's main campus, the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center and the LSU AgCenter, President and Chancellor F. King Alexander announced this afternoon that they will receive an average 3% merit pay increase for the 2014-15 academic year. "After having one of our strongest legislative sessions in many years and what appears to be another enrollment boost this fall, we felt that it is imperative to recognize your hard work and dedication while continuing to build on the momentum we created with last year's 4% merit increase," the letter says. That previous increase was announced July 26, 2013, just under a year to the day from the current pay raise. Alexander says the raises, along with pension reform measures approved during the latest legislative session, help LSU be more competitive nationally in recruiting and retaining faculty and staff. "Please know that we greatly appreciate your efforts and dedication to LSU," King told employees. Read the full story...

$300M in borrowing for La. community colleges approved

Louisiana's community colleges are about to start a construction boom. The State Bond Commission agreed Thursday to let the Louisiana Community and Technical College System borrow $300 million to pay for a list of 29 construction projects. State lawmakers approved a bill in 2013 that allows LCTCS to sidestep the traditional construction budget process for the projects, over the opposition of Louisiana's then-higher education commissioner. Supporters say the projects will beef up worker training to meet industry job demands and aid economic development efforts. The Associated Press reports the state will pay off the borrowing, done through bond sales to investors, with interest over 25 years. At least 12% of a project's cost has to be matched with private dollars before construction begins. Repayment costs for the state will be $22 million a year.

ULL shuts down after device found near campus

Students at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette were told to stay in their on-campus apartments and commuters were sent home this morning after police found a suspicious device in a park next to the campus. Lafayette police spokesman Kyle Soriez tells The Associated Press police received a phoned-in threat shortly after 5:35 a.m. that a bomb had been placed at the 33-acre Girard Park, a public recreational facility next to the sprawling, 1,500-acre university campus. Soriez says police and firefighters sent to the scene located what they believed was a suspicious device in a trash can. He says authorities had not yet attempted to remove the device. Soriez did not have a description of the device. State police say they are sending a hazardous materials team to the park. The area around the park, including the university, was blocked off as a precaution. The university has cancelled classes on the campus today and moved other scheduled events off campus. It has told staff and...

'Business Report': Local financial advisers offer tips for making college affordable

High school graduation season typically has parents bursting with pride over their children's achievements, but as Business Report details in a feature from the current issue, for many families this is also a time when the financial realities of the future begin to hit home. The cost of a college education at U.S. public, four-year institutions increased 40% during the past decade, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The average cost for four years of higher education today ranges from about $67,000 at public to $135,000 at private institutions. Families with a high net worth and those who have prepared well for the day when a child embarks on a college education can focus during high school graduation on the opportunities that lie ahead. But for parents who delayed planning how they will pay a college tab, the cap and gown can produce anxiety. "The biggest mistake people make in saving for college is not starting early enough," says Jason Windham,...

College is closer than you think

High school graduation season typically has parents bursting with pride over their children's achievements, but for many families this is also a time when the financial realities of the future begin to hit home.

LSU leads nation in chemistry Ph.D.'s for women, minorities

A new study published in the Journal of Chemical Education identifies LSU as the nation's leading university when it comes to granting doctorate degrees in chemistry to women and underrepresented minority students, LSU announced this morning. The study also highlights LSU's growth in conferring such degrees between 2005 and 2009, pointing to a 49% growth among women and an 11% increase among minorities. "This shows that LSU is not only recruiting students from all populations at both the undergraduate and graduate level, but strives to retain and see those students complete their degree programs," says LSU President F. King Alexander in a prepared statement. The study, "Trends in Ph.D. Productivity and Diversity in Top-50 U.S. Chemistry Departments: An Institutional Analysis," describes trends in chemistry Ph.D.'s granted over the past two decades at universities across the nation. LSU has been the top university in awarding chemistry Ph.D.'s to black students for more than 10...

Proposals being accepted for new LSU program aimed at bringing faculty inventions to market

The LSU system has begun accepting proposals from faculty members for the pilot phase of its new LSU LIFT2 program, which will provide grants of up to $50,000 to explore and validate the market potential of faculty inventions. Applications are due by June 20, with awards to be made in mid-July. The LSU Board of Supervisors approved launching the LIFT2 (Leveraging Innovation for Technology Transfer) Fund in late January, with initial grant funding coming from $2 million in funds generated by previously licensed LSU inventions. The board also approved allocating 5% of all future licensing income to sustain the fund, which is part of a broader attempt to improve technology transfer and commercialization for the system. The LIFT2 Fund initiative was among several proposed in a report by the President's Committee on Technology Transfer, convened by LSU President F. King Alexander.

LCTCS president says 20,000 additional graduates in key fields needed

In 2006, Louisiana's community and technical colleges awarded degrees and certificates to less than 5,000 graduates. This year, that number tops 25,000, says Monty Sullivan, who recently replaced Joe May as president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. Roughly 9,200 of those 25,000 are graduating in what Sullivan refers to as "tier one" fields—which include both fields for which there is the highest demand and those which pay the highest wages. Still, as Sullivan told the Baton Rouge Press Club today, Louisiana needs approximately 20,000 additional annual graduates in those fields—specifically in construction crafts, industrial production, welding and electrical—to meet the workforce needs of the state's economic growth. House Bill 1033 by House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles—

LSU 2014 class expected to be largest, most diverse in history

LSU officials say the 2014 graduating class is shaping up to be a record-breaker on a couple of fronts. Not only is the class projected to be the largest overall in the university's history, but it also will be the most diverse, with the greatest number of black, Hispanic and female students receiving degrees. There are 6,367 students expected to receive degrees, compared to the previous record high of 6,251 graduates in 2012. Among them, 570 black students will earn a diploma, up from the previous high of 516 in last year's class—or a 10.5% increase. "This year also saw our highest enrollment of African-American students ever," says LSU President F. King ALexander in a prepared statement. "Additionally, in our most recent graduation rate report, LSU's African-American graduation rates reached the highest level in our history—60%, nearly double the national average." The class also includes 240 Hispanic students, up from the previous high of 218 in 2012—a roughly...

Beer sales at major universities show mixed results regarding profits, public safety

Looking beyond the ongoing $87 million south end zone expansion at Tiger Stadium that's on schedule to be completed in August, LSU officials are considering a number of options for enhancing the experience for the more than 100,000 fans that will now be able to watch football games in person on Saturdays. As LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva told the Baton Rouge Press Club earlier this week, that could include larger, more comfortable seats, as well as expanded and improved restrooms, among other ideas. And then there's the possibility of beer sales inside the stadium. "I think at some point—I don't know if it will be five years from now, 10 years from now—but I think at some point, I think it's going to happen," Alleva told the Press Club when asked about the possibility. He added that "it's something that we have to study and look at in the future." LSU wouldn't be the...

Alleva says Tiger Stadium expansion going to be 'worth every penny'

LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva acknowledged today that the ongoing $87 million south end zone expansion at Tiger Stadium is a "huge investment," but he predicts "it's going to be worth every penny." And while the new seats at the very top of the addition—which will take total stadium capacity from 92,600 to a little over 100,000—will be reserved for visiting teams' fans, Alleva says they could also be made available as "very discounted" seats for LSU fans if opposing teams don't fill them. The expansion project is on schedule to be completed by late August, just in time for the first home game on Sept. 6, says Alleva—who was the guest speaker of the Baton Rouge Press Club today. Along with the expanded seating, the project includes two new high-definition video boards—with a total value of $3.4 million—in each corner of the south end zone to show replays on. Looking ahead to potential future improvements to the stadium, Alleva says he doubts further...

LSU flagship campus could go tobacco-free as early as August

A policy committee at LSU is finalizing its proposal to make the flagship campus in Baton Rouge tobacco-free as of Aug. 1, a university spokesman says, and the policy could be approved soon. Although there has been some question as to whether or not the policy will be tobacco-free or smoke-free—which would still allow for smokeless forms of tobacco to be used on campus—LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard says it is his understanding that the policy committee is looking at a tobacco-free policy. As a campus policy change, it will fall under the authority of LSU President F. King Alexander to sign off on the proposal. Alexander made mention of the policy at Friday's LSU Board of Supervisors meeting, but no action was taken. Ballard says it's his understanding that Alexander is in support of the policy. Though the policy being finalized now will only apply to the Baton Rouge campus, Ballard says other LSU System campuses are also creating and implementing their own tobacco- and...

La. Senate to debate changes to TOPS program today

The Louisiana Senate today will take up the debate over whether or not to raise eligibility standards for the state's free college tuition program called TOPS. The Associated Press reports the price tag for the program is growing to $250 million next year, and lawmakers will discuss whether the state needs to trim its costs. Louisiana has among the most generous tuition aid programs in the nation. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Jack Donahue is proposing to raise the minimum grade point average and ACT score required to get a TOPS award. The Senate is scheduled to take up Donahue's proposal, SB 520, this afternoon. Supporters say the bill could control costs while encouraging students to reach higher standards. Opponents, who have been successful in killing proposed changes to the TOPS program in past legislative sessions, say the changes would disproportionately eliminate minority students from the program. Currently, the most basic TOPS award for attending a four-year institution...

Loftus joins growing BR startup that helps students prepare for ACT

When local entrepreneur Jared Loftus resigned last year from the Capital Area Transit System board after serving as president during one of the bus system's most tumultuous eras, he said he wanted to devote more time to his various business ventures, which include the online college merchandise store College District and the Taco de Paco food truck, among others. But since January, Loftus has had a new full-time gig as chief operating officer of ACT Mastery, a two-year-old company in the Louisiana Technology Park that helps students prepare for the ACT. The company is the brainchild of Craig Gehring, a 2004 graduate of Baton Rouge Magnet High School, who scored a perfect ACT and parlayed his mastery of the test into a test-prep curriculum. Loftus joined the company early this year at Gehring's urging, he says, and is helping to grow the company, which is now in more than 60 school districts in Louisiana and also in six states around the country. "We have grown tremendously," says...

Editor: At LSU, some things never change

During the course of Business Report Editor Stephanie Riegel's recent interview on the LSU campus with clothing designer Travis Mamon—one of the six young entrepreneurs profiled in the magazine's current cover story—she lapsed into occasional reminiscences of her own days at LSU. "Forget about the technological advances. It goes without saying that smartphones, the Internet, and drones that buzz overhead digitally filming our public events are part of an entirely different reality from the one I knew in college," Riegel writes. "It's also true that, socially, we are living in a more tolerant, open and permissive society. Some say it's too open and tolerant. Others say we still have a long way to go. Either way, it is decidedly different." But that's about where the differences stop, Riegel says. "As I thought about the issues I covered as a student reporter for The Daily Reveille, I...

LSU president gets high praise on Capitol Hill during education budget hearings

LSU President F. King Alexander was singled out by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and a Massachusetts lawmaker on Tuesday during a budget hearing on the Department of Education's 2015 budget request. Speaking about memorandums of understanding that have been created between the federal government and state governments for higher education spending, Rep. John Tierney, a Democrat, said Alexander "has been very instrumental in helping us getting the ideas for that … and his research showed that they've been effective." Alexander first published research on the MOUs in 2010 in the Journal of Education Finance. An excerpt from the abstract of "Maintenance of Effort: An Evolving Federal-State Approach to Ensuring College Affordability," says that evidence suggests "federal incentives and disincentives can help assure that states maintain adequate financial support to public colleges and universities, and in so doing, can contribute to college affordability." On...

In Conversation: Monty Sullivan

Monty Sullivan, former chancellor of Delgado Community College, recently replaced Joe May as president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. As Louisiana tries to meet workforce demands created by the anticipated industrial building boom, Sullivan and the schools he leads will be expected to do much of the heavy lifting.

In demand

As a giant wave of industrial expansion begins surging through the Baton Rouge area, its effects are already rippling through the LSU College of Engineering.

Making the difference

"Dominique absolutely would have made something of himself without our help," says Lucas Spielfogel, winter light flooding the windows of his office in an old two-story frame house at 611 North St.

Study: 2012 LSU football games generated nearly $400M in added revenue for BR businesses

The seven home football games played by the LSU Tigers in 2012 generated more than $397 million in additional revenues for Baton Rouge area businesses and nearly $120 million in local household earnings, according to a report released today on the economic impact of LSU Athletics. The study, produced by economist Loren Scott for the LSU Athletic Department and Tiger Athletic Foundation, also shows that during the 2012 season LSU football generated nearly 4,000 jobs, $2.8 million in local sales tax revenues and $8 million in state sales tax revenues. "It's amazing what seven days of football does for the state and the city," says Ret. Gen. Ron Richard, chairman of TAF. "It's not just football. It's an economic engine that is generating jobs and revenues." The study, which is the first of its kind to be conducted in more than a decade, also looked at the impact more than $400 million in athletics construction projects over the past 14 years have had on the local economy. Those...

Negotiations continue over Tulane scholarships

State senators got bogged down on Tuesday over what restrictions they're willing to add to lawmakers' annual Tulane University scholarships. The Associated Press reports that Baton Rouge Sen. Dan Claitor is proposing to prohibit lawmakers from giving scholarships to their relatives, relatives of other elected officials and relatives of people who donate to their campaigns. Members of the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee say they understand what Claitor wants to do. But they questioned if his bill went too far. Claitor, a Republican, delayed a committee vote until next week, trying to reach a compromise. The Tulane scholarship program lets each state lawmaker give one student annually a scholarship to the private university. It has been criticized as a way for lawmakers to help friends and contributors. As lawmakers are debating the issue, the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana has also released its recommendations for the scholarship program, including a new...

SU System begins search for BR campus chancellor

The Southern University System has started the search process for a new chancellor for its Baton Rouge campus. System President Ronald Mason Jr. says in a news release that he appointed a 17-member search committee last week that consists of the university board as well as faculty and staff, a student, alumni and members of the local community. The committee will be chaired by Murphy F. Bell Jr., chair of the SU System Board of Supervisors' personnel committee, and Monique Guillory-Winfield, the system's vice president for academic and student affairs. Mason says the system will hire a consulting firm to help with a nationwide search to fill the position. Southern's board voted in February against renewing Chancellor James Llorens' contract, which ends June 30. Llorens has led the campus for three years.

Alexander: LSU expects its impact on state's economic outlook to increase

Louisiana has undergone a boom in business attraction over the last several years, and LSU President F. King Alexander says in a new Daily Report guest column that LSU has played a significant role in many of the state's crucial wins—adding the university expects its impact on the state to "significantly increase and multiply" going forward. "Vital public-private partnerships connecting industry and higher education, with successful examples including industry giants IBM and EA Sports, have not only injected dollars and jobs into our state, but made Louisiana more visible to others looking to relocate or open new branches in locations conducive to expansion," writes Alexander. "With LSU's high-performing faculty, world-renowned research and a talented graduate pool of more than 8,700 students annually, we are playing a major role in driving Louisiana and our regional economies. But we don't stop there." LSU also provides workforce solutions to keep its graduates in...

LSU expects its impact on state's economic outlook to increase

Editor's note: This column was provided to Daily Report by the LSU Office of Communications & University Relations.

Entergy pledges $1 million to LSU College of Engineering

Though it has been nearly two months since LSU officials announced that they've met and exceeded the $50 million fundraising goal set for the renovation and expansion of Patrick F. Taylor Hall, the donations keep coming in. Entergy Louisiana announced today that it's pledging $1 million to provide a research lab and classroom complex within the expanded Taylor Hall, with the donation to be matched by the state under its public-private agreement for the project. Entergy says its gift will fund a first-of-its-kind research complex on the campus, specifically designed to focus on the application of how energy resources impact energy supply on a national scale. "Louisiana is experiencing an industrial renaissance that is spurring jobs and economic growth throughout the region" says Phillip May, Entergy Louisiana president and CEO, in a

Survey: Majority in La. support sales tax increase for higher ed

Louisianans may be known for their hearty appetites, but when it comes to tax increases their stomachs have been historically weak. And yet, nearly 3 out of 4 Louisianans—72%—who recently participated in the LSU Public Policy Research Lab's Louisiana Survey say they would support a small sales tax increase if the funds were dedicated to higher education. As Daily Report first reported last week, the Louisiana Survey conducted in early February showed for the first time in the survey's six-year history that Louisianans are increasingly viewing education as the state's most pressing issue. Over the past year, the share of survey participants identifying education as the most important issue rose 9 points, from 20% to 29%. Over that same time frame, the share of Louisianans who said the economy was the most pressing issue fell from 25% to 23%. When asked a general...

Capitol Views: TOPS bills may be dead for session

Attempts to limit TOPS awards, which are heard every year, got nowhere in the House Education Committee today. More than likely, that means the issue could be dead for the session. The panel voted to defer HB 385 by Rep. Joe Harrison, R-Napoleonville, which would have raised the eligibility standards from 20 to 22 for ACT scores. It would have also capped awards at $1,600 per semester and required partial repayment for students who lose eligibility. Calling his measure the "Lazarus bill"—since he brings it back from the dead each year—Harrison told the committee: "We talk about rigor. We want rigor in everything else but this." Currently budgeted at $235 million for the coming year and projected to increase to $375 million in five years, the program is unsustainable, he said. Barry Erwin of the Council for a Better Louisiana spoke in support. "While we are raising the standards for K-12, it is not unreasonable to raise standards for a lucrative program as this," he said.

LSU officials working to address increased traffic due to Tiger Stadium expansion

While three crews have been working around-the-clock shifts to complete the $87 million south end zone expansion at Tiger Stadium in time for LSU's first home game of the season on Sept. 6, LSU officials have been working on a different project—namely, how to deal with gameday traffic, which was already a problem and will now be a bigger one with some 8,000 additional seats. "It's a problem—the elephant in the room—I'm not going to sugarcoat it," says Ret. Gen. Ronald Richard, president and CEO of the Tiger Athletic Foundation. "Ingress, egress and parking are all an issue." A potential solution for the upcoming season is already in the works, however. TAF recently commissioned a study that addresses parking and gameday traffic. On April 10, it will unveil the results and present a new traffic and parking plan for the upcoming season. "It's going to be the same system, but other things will be involved," says Richard, who declines to disclose details yet. "It's not...

Boosting enrollment a top priority for new LSUA chancellor

Just three weeks into the job, new Louisiana State University of Alexandria Chancellor Daniel Howard is already moving forward with initiatives designed to boost the school's enrollment, The Town Talk reports, and he expects to see results just as quickly. "I can assure you [enrollment] will be up this fall," says Howard, who has been visiting government meetings and civic clubs recently to raise awareness about LSUA in the community. LSUA started the fall with just over 2,000 undergraduate students, and officials say increasing that number is especially important given cuts in state appropriations to public universities in recent years. Howard's initiatives include plans to offer more scholarships, increase the number of transfer students and add new degrees in high-demand but low-cost fields such as hospitality management and social work. Howard also plans to improve LSUA's correspondence with prospective students and restore the school's honors program, which he hopes will...

Editor: Arts deserve more appreciation at LSU

Several years ago, Business Report Editor Stephanie Riegel had a small public relations contract with the LSU College of Art and Design, which comprises the schools of art, architecture, landscape architecture and interior design. "From a PR perspective, it was a veritable orchard of low-hanging fruit—an endless supply of positive stories about talented faculty and students whose designs and creations won national awards and earned prestige for the college and, by extension, the university," Riegel recalls in her latest column. "Which made it all the more troubling to learn, recently, that the School of Art—which is housed in the historically significant but crumbling Old Engineering Shops—has, once again, been bypassed for a desperately needed renovation." Riegel says the 80-year-old building is, "quite literally, falling apart around those who must toil there, without air conditioning or even heat." It's been slated for renovation since the early 2000s.

Publisher: For our children to compete globally, Louisiana needs Common Core

As the Louisiana Legislature kicks off today what is sure to be a lively discussion on the controversial Common Core education standards, Business Report Publisher Rolfe McCollister—who has closely observed education reform issues for more than 25 years—says that Louisiana needs Common Core. "I was experiencing a bit of dj vu when I heard Chas Roemer, president of BESE, talk about our students having to compete with children around the nation and around the globe," McCollister writes in his latest column. "Roemer, like his father, former Gov. Buddy Roemer, is well-educated and sees the future and the need to prepare our children for global competition." McCollister notes that the elder Roemer fought for reform 26 years ago and warned Louisiana parents then of the global competition their children would soon face. "Most ignored the call for raising the bar and stuck their heads in the sand, choosing to believe their children's and grandchildren's future would be...

No art appreciation

I had a small public relations contract several years ago with the LSU College of Art and Design, which comprises the schools of art, architecture, landscape architecture and interior design.

Speaking of education...

I am a product of Louisiana public schools, through and through. After two years of church-affiliated kindergarten, I did the requisite 12 years in Shreveport public schools and then four years (plus some bonus semesters) at LSU.

St. Paddy's trip to Ireland marks first overseas experience for most LSU band members

Of the 325 members of the LSU Tiger Marching Band who are leaving Baton Rouge today for Ireland—and will march in Dublin's annual St. Patrick's Day Parade on Monday—fewer than 40 of them have ever traveled overseas before. "This is really why the trip is so special," says LSU President F. King Alexander. "This will open so many of our students eyes to global issues, studies and travel." For 133 of the LSU band members, Alexander says, today's transatlantic flight is the first time they've ever been on an airplane. For 263 of them, the trip marks the first time they've had to apply for a passport, and for 291 it is the first time they'll make an overseas trip. LSU is one of just eight American bands marching in Dublin's famed parade Monday, according to the event website. Among others, they'll be joined by marching bands from Iowa, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Texas. The entire LSU band is making the trip to Ireland at an estimated cost of $700,000, paid for via private...

BESE backs overhaul of La. career-track diploma

Public high school students who aren't college-bound will soon need to obtain job skills certifications before they can receive a diploma, under plans that received support Thursday from the state education board. The Associated Press reports the redesign of Louisiana's career-track diploma, pushed by Superintendent of Education John White, emphasizes skills training for students who don't intend to go to a four-year university. White says the new program, called "Jump Start," will better prepare students for available jobs in a state where only 28% of residents have a degree from a four-year or two-year college. He says the remaining students need skills training to fill the jobs available to them. "Jump Start tries to address those kids, to give them a path to the middle class," White told a BESE committee today. The committee agreed to the plans without objection, with 10 of the board's 11 members present for the vote. A follow-up vote Friday will give the diploma redesign final...

Annexation's new twist

LSU President F. King Alexander is mulling a request from unnamed parties to petition the city of Baton Rouge to annex two large tracts of university-owned property that are outside the city limits. Included in the targeted package is 2,269 acres of farmland on Ben Hur adjacent to L'Auberge Casino. As first reported in Daily Report, the potential annexation would clear the way for L'Auberge—one of the parish's biggest sources of sales tax revenue—to also apply for annexation. It would be a significant development in the battle over the proposed incorporation of a new city of St. George.

'225': LSU grad boosting teenage self-esteem in B.R.

When Sarah Brown was crowned Miss Jackson State University, she turned her back on a lucrative career in astrophysics and discovered a hidden passion for public service. At Jackson State, she started a youth outreach program and continued to do so even as she came to Baton Rouge to pursue a master's degree in public administration at LSU. Though she is only one semester into the program, Brown has already decided to complete an optional master's degree project, focusing on young girls in public high schools, and her work is the subject of a profile piece in the March issue of 225. Her Baton Rouge project focuses on building self-esteem in the young women enrolled at Career Academy High School, where assistant principal Mandy LaCerte cites low self-esteem as the most common hindrance in the school's female students. The first time LaCerte saw Brown in action was a wake-up call, and the assistant principal says she has already seen a difference in the girls. "I think what...

White named dean of LSU E.J. Ourso College of Business

Richard White Jr., who has served as interim dean of the E.J. Ourso College of Business on LSU's flagship campus since June 2012, has been named dean of the business school, effective April 1 and pending approval by the LSU Board of Supervisors. "Richard White has served admirably in the role as interim dean, and we are pleased to name him dean of the E. J. Ourso College of Business," says LSU President F. King Alexander in a prepared release issued this afternoon. "White is well respected among the faculty and staff in the college and across campus. With economic and workforce development being such an important issue across the state, Dean White and the faculty, staff and students of the business college will play an ever important role in meeting those needs and helping to make Louisiana a better place to live and work." LSU selected White after conducting a national search for the business college's next leader.

BRAC to back increased TOPS standards this legislative session

BRAC says it will back efforts during the legislative session that starts on March 10 to increase standards for students to utilize the TOPS scholarship program. "The TOPS program is an important tool as we work to retain our talented students in the region and prepare them to enter our workforce. BRAC recognizes that changes must be made in order to sustain this program," says BRAC President and CEO Adam Knapp in a press release issued this morning. BRAC says it will also support legislative efforts to increase the amount of need-based aid made available through Go Grants in the state, and will also continue to support the stabilization of state funding and the transfer of tuition and fee autonomy for the state's higher education institutions. "TOPS has disproportionately been awarded to the state's most affluent students since the program's income cap removal in 1997, and almost eight out of ten recipients are Caucasian," reads the BRAC press release. "To prevent causing a...

LSU confirms it has been approached about annexation into B.R.

LSU officials have been approached about petitioning the city of Baton Rouge to annex two large tracts of university-owned property that are outside the city limits—including 2,269 acres of farmland on Ben Hur that are adjacent to L'Auberge Casino. LSU interim vice president for communications Jason Droddy tells Daily Report "the suggestion has been brought forward to LSU President King Alexander and we are considering it." Droddy was unable to say who floated the suggestion or whether the request was made by phone or in person. The potential annexation of the LSU property—which also includes the 120-acre Innovation Park near Gardere—would be extremely significant in the battle over the proposed incorporation of a new city of St. George. That's because it would clear the way for L'Auberge—which is not in the city and is one of the biggest sources of sales tax revenue in the parish—to also apply for annexation. A property outside the city limits...

Poll is first step toward business push for career diploma program

Business leaders around the state are coming together to help fund a marketing campaign designed to change negative perceptions about career-training programs and high school students who do not pursue four-year college degrees. As previously reported by Daily Report, the Louisiana Workforce Education Initiative was created last month by several local business executives to raise money to drum up support for the state's new proposed career diploma program, Jump Start. Part of the group's initial focus will be to raise $75,000 to fund a statewide poll to determine existing attitudes about job-training programs and post-secondary education. "There is still a stigma attached to programs and students who do not choose a path to a four-year college degree," says Christel Slaughter, principal of SSA Consultants, which is involved with the initiative and overseeing the campaign.

LSU President King tells national press he likes Obama's college rating plan

The Washington Post reported Friday that unlike many of his peers across the nation, LSU President F. King Alexander finds a lot to like in President Obama's plan to have federal ratings for how well colleges do their jobs. Such rankings could serve to “counterbalance” private rankings from prominent magazines. “I think it's a good idea,” Alexander told the Post. “We're saying, 'Let's help the federal government measure value-added. . . . We need to start differentiating the good players from the bad.” Alexander added that institutes of higher learning need to “get real” about the price of an education and what it is worth in today's market.

Publisher: LSU flagship leading La. into brighter future

Business Report Publisher and LSU Board of Supervisors member Rolfe McCollister says in his latest column that "the flagship university in any state is important to the future and should be the leader—and announcements by LSU in January and February show why." Among those announcements: LSU's six-year graduation rate has increased to an all-time high for the third consecutive year—this time moving to 69.1%, up from 66.7% last year. Meanwhile, the LSU College of Engineering Breaking New Ground campaign—a public-private partnership that began in January last year—was completed three months ahead of schedule. With more than 450 individual and corporate donors pledging $52.5 million in private funds, McCollister says, it was the most successful, short-term fundraising effort in the history of the university. Also this year, the Pennington Biomedical Research Center announced the Childhood Obesity and Diabetes Research Program and the opening of a newly...

Alexander reflects on White House visit, discusses higher education reforms

In a wide-ranging Q&A with the Dallas Morning News, LSU President F. King Alexander reflects on his recent visit to the White House—where he advocated for greater accessibility—urges states to keep their financial commitments to higher education and touches on the challenges all parents face in motivating their children to go to college. "We've got a growing problem in social mobility. We did talk about that in the White House. If you're born in the lowest 20th percentile, you've got about a 5% chance of going to college, despite the fact that we're putting $170 billion in federal aid into trying to rectify that situation," Alexander says at one point in the interview. "It's worse now than it's been in who knows how long. I think we're increasingly moving into an area where if we don't do something that addresses these issues, if we don't stop pointing fingers, if we don't work more diligently to tackle these issues together, then higher education may not end up...

The LSU flagship leads off 2014

The flagship university in any state is important to the future and should be the leader—and announcements by LSU in January and February show why.

Delgado chancellor selected to succeed May as LCTCS president

Monty Sullivan, the current chancellor of Delgado Community College, has been selected to be the next president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. The LCTCS Board of Supervisors approved Sullivan's nomination today, effective Thursday, Feb. 27, and also voted to have board chairman Michael Murphy begin contract negotiations with Sullivan. The board selected him from four finalists who were interviewed Friday. He would take over as president from Joe May, who is leaving to become chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District in Texas. May is set to start in his new position on Feb. 26. Sullivan previously served as the executive vice president for the LCTCS. See Sullivan's complete bio. —Staff report

January jobs report shows wave of recent college grads found jobs

The jobs report for January issued by the government this morning—which showed the U.S. unemployment rate dipped to 6.6% in January from 6.7% the month previous—revealed that recent college graduates flooded the job market, and most found work. The Associated Press reports among workers older than 25, 668,000 college graduates began looking for jobs last month, citing the Labor Department report. And a nearly equal number of college graduates—663,000—were hired. Their influx illustrates that U.S. workers, as a group, continue to become better educated. Employers have hired an average of 136,333 college graduates each month over the past year. This has contributed to a decline in the unemployment rate among those with higher educations to 3.2% from 3.7% in January 2013. Not every social group benefited from the unemployment rate's decline to its lowest level since October 2008. The rate rose for African-Americans, Hispanics and workers younger than 24. Some...

LCTCS preparing to build a number of new campuses

Although funding for construction of $250 million in structures won't be available for almost 18 months, the Louisiana Community and Technical College System is taking preliminary steps to be ready when the money can be used. "Funding from state doesn't start flowing until July 1, 2015," Joe May, president of the LCTCS system, tells The Advertiser. "We're doing all the work getting ready for it. We're employing project managers, identifying site locations, and we'll soon start with architects and design work to get that ready." The Legislature in 2013 approved Act 360, which supplies money to build new campuses in Alexandria, Ruston and Jennings and a total of 29 structures across much of the state. The projects will be funded with bonds supported by $250 million from legislation authored by Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton. May, who is leaving the LCTCS on Feb. 26 to head the Dallas-area community college system, says it will take about a year to "determine locations and...

Alexander: LSU presents unified front on Capitol Hill

LSU President F. King Alexander makes frequent visits to the nation's capital to discuss higher education issues. But a 36-hour trip to Capitol Hill earlier this week was particularly significant: It was the first time Alexander went there accompanied by chancellors from the other universities in the LSU system. Together they lobbied with a unified voice for funding and federal support for LSU. "It is very important that we have a unified front and that one LSU shows up to talk to our delegation and work with our delegation and prioritizes the things that we need to work on," says Alexander, who, with the other chancellors, met with the state's Congressional delegation. "That is exactly what they told us. They said it's great to know LSU prioritizes and speaks with one voice." In the past, leaders of the various schools in the LSU system—to say nothing of the leaders of schools in the state's other higher ed systems—have traveled individually to Washington to lobby for...

LCTCS to name new president as early as next week

The Louisiana Community and Technical College System could have a new president as early as next week. LCTCS Board of Supervisors Chairman Michael Murphy tells Gannett Louisiana the plan is to make a selection one week from today, choosing one of the four "excessively impressive" candidates interviewed by the full board last Friday. He says he'd like the new president to be seated by or before Feb. 26 when current system President Joe May departs. "We've got a whole lot of information on each candidate, and we need some time to digest it," Murphy says. Tim Hardy of Baton Rouge, who headed the board's search committee, says it won't be easy to make a selection, but "we hope at that time [Feb. 12] to reach a consensus." May, president for the past seven years, is leaving to take a similar job in Dallas, near where several members of his family reside. May's salary is about $271,000 a year. Finalists for his replacement are: Deborah Blue, chancellor of the State Center Community College...

The president goes to Washington

It's nothing new for LSU President F. King Alexander to visit the Washington, D.C., to discuss higher education policy.

Mid City Studio

The empty lot on North Boulevard that once held Romano's Pack & Save neighborhood grocery could one day host a fresh foods retailer and caf run by the homeless. Architecture students from LSU and Southern University spent the fall 2013 semester drafting versions of this Utopian vision for landowner, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

LSU exceeds $50 million fundraising goal for engineering college expansion

Not only has the LSU College of Engineering met and exceeded its $50 million fundraising goal for the renovation and expansion of Patrick F. Taylor Hall, but Gov. Bobby Jindal also announced today that the state will be matching, dollar-for-dollar, all private funding that exceeds the $50 million match already pledged. The $100 million public-private partnership was first announced in October 2012, and the private fundraising effort began in January last year. It's completion, announced today by Jindal and LSU officials, comes three months ahead of schedule. In total, more than 450 individual and corporate donors pledged $52.5 million in private funds. The largest single donation was a $15 million gift from Phyllis Taylor, co-chair of the LSU College of Engineering Breaking New Ground campaign and widow of Patrick Taylor, the LSU grad and Taylor Energy Company founder for whom the engineering building is named. Twenty-two companies, including Dow, RoyOMartin, Entergy, BASF, Turner...

Study: LSU economic impact on La. totaled $3.9 billion, 36,757 jobs in FY2013

LSU's nine campuses across Louisiana supported nearly $3.9 billion in sales during fiscal year 2013, as well as $1.5 billion in new statewide earnings and an estimated 36,757 direct and indirect annualized jobs. The figures come from a study by the LSU Division of Economic Development at the E.J. Ourso College of Business that was presented by LSU President F. King Alexander to the LSU Board of Supervisors at its regular meeting today. "These numbers demonstrate how invaluable LSU is to our state from a variety of angles, whether it's through jobs created, sales generated or drawing nonresidents into Louisiana," says the study's author, Stephen Barnes, assistant professor of economics and director of the economic development division. "LSU is most definitely a critical economic driver for the state of Louisiana." For every operating and capital dollar provided by the state to LSU during the past fiscal year, the study says, LSU provided a return of $5.08 of economic activity. The...

LSUS adopts purple, gold as school colors in rebranding

Purple and gold will replace blue and gold in LSUS logos this summer. The Shreveport Times reports the change is part of a rebranding campaign as the LSU system moves to a common identity. LSU System President F. King Alexander touched on the issue and others during a speech to LSUS Foundation members on Monday night. "As the 'one LSU' discussion continues around the state, a lot is happening," Alexander said, noting that he expects more collaboration among campuses. Other system changes include merging the LSU AgCenter—a separate entity since 1972—with the College of Agriculture. "Quite honestly, Baton Rouge wasn't very helpful" in promoting a unified system in the past, Alexander said. LSUS administrators announced the rebranding to students Monday. While the school colors will change, no decision has been made about the Pilots sports team name or Pete the Pelican. LSUS' logo looks similar to that at LSU Alexandria, which already adopted the colors and the same...

4 finalists named for top spot at LCTCS

The names of four finalists vying to become the next president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System were released by a search committee this morning. The finalists—all of whom have been invited to participate in interviews with the college system's full board in a public meeting on Wednesday next week—are: Deborah Blue, chancellor of the State Center Community College District in California; Marie F. Gnage, president of West Virginia University at Parkersburg in West Virginia; James Henderson, chancellor of Bossier Parish Community College in Louisiana; Monty Sullivan, chancellor of Delgado Community College in Louisiana. The four finalists named today were culled down from a list of seven candidates who were interviewed publicly on Tuesday. The next system president will replace Joe May, who left to lead the Dallas County Community College District. —Staff report

LSU biz school tops 'U.S. News' list of MBAs with best value

U.S. News & World Report has placed the E.J. Ourso College of Business at LSU at the top of its ranking of the 10 MBA programs in the country providing the most financial value at graduation, released today. "Business school graduates often have a starting salary that's barely higher than the debt they owe. But there are several institutions where students make three or four times their debt following graduation, making loans easier to pay off. Louisiana State University–Baton Rouge is one of them," the magazine reports. "At the school's E.J. Ourso College of Business, the average starting salary for full-time 2012 graduates three months after graduation was $59,762; the average debt for full-time 2012 graduates was $8,181. With graduates on average making about 7.3 times their student debt, Ourso offers the best financial value after graduation, according to data submitted to U.S. News by 99 ranked schools." Trailing E.J. Ourso on the list are Auburn University,...

Jindal budget includes $141.5 million increase for higher ed

After six years of cuts, Louisiana's public colleges stand to gain $141.5 million in increased funding under Gov. Bobby Jindal's budget proposal to be unveiled later this week. Jindal this afternoon announced his recommendations for financing Louisiana's colleges in the fiscal year that begins July 1, saying his proposed budget for higher education represents a 6.6% increase over budgeted funding for the current fiscal year. At today's press conference at LSU, the governor was surrounded by higher education leaders from throughout the state, who applauded the news. Much of the new money would come from increased tuition costs on students. The Associated Press reports that, unlike in past years, Jindal won't recommend that the new tuition dollars replace state funding. Instead, he is proposing that the campuses get a stable base of state funding, with the new tuition income on top of that. He's also recommending a new $40 million state funding pool to help campuses with initiatives...

News alert: Jindal proposes $141.5 million increase in higher ed funding

Gov. Bobby Jindal joined leaders from higher education systems across Louisiana today to announce a proposed funding increase of $141.5 million for higher education institutions for the next fiscal year. The funding hike represents a more than 6% increase over the higher education budget for the current fiscal year. This funding includes a new higher education workforce incentive initiative of $40 million called the Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy plan, which will be a collaborative effort of LED, the Louisiana Workforce Commission, the Louisiana Board of Regents, the University of Louisiana System, the LSU System, the Southern University System and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. Read Daily Report PM for more details. —Staff report

LCTCS releases names of those interviewing for system president

The list of names of those who will interview to be the next Louisiana Community and Technical College System president was released this afternoon by the LCTCS Board of Supervisors search committee. The list of candidates, who will conduct public interviews on Tuesday, includes: Deborah Blue, chancellor of the State Center Community College District in California; Marshall Drummond, former chief operating officer and provost of Higher Colleges of Technology in the United Arab Emirates; Marie Gnage, president of West Virginia University at Parkersburg; James Henderson, chancellor of Bossier Parish Community College; Joan Smith, chancellor of the Yosemite Community College District in California; David Steele, dean of the College of Business for San Jose State University in California; and Monty Sullivan, chancellor of Delgado Community College. The next system president will replace Joe May, who left to lead the Dallas County Community College District. —Staff...

LSU president invited to White House to discuss college access

LSU President F. King Alexander will be among the more than 100 college and university presidents from across the country who will partake in a discussion on higher education access hosted by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House on Thursday. The event will focus on new actions universities can take to increase college opportunity, according to an LSU news release issued today. "Access to a college education has never been more important," says Alexander in a prepared statement. "If nothing changes, the United States will fall to 19th in college completion rates among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, countries." Inside Higher Ed quotes Obama as saying of the event: "I've got a phone that allows me to convene Americans from every walk of life—nonprofits,...

BASF donating $1 million to LSU for College of Engineering expansion

LSU has received another sizeable donation for its $100 million renovation of Patrick F. Taylor Hall and expansion of the College of Engineering on its flagship campus in Baton Rouge. The university announced this morning that BASF Corp. is pledging $1 million toward the expansion. "The development and investment in the Louisiana workforce is critical to BASF's long-term success," says Tom Yura, senior vice president and manager of the company's Geismar site, in a prepared statement. "In addition to BASF's sustainability efforts, this project is part of our local activities to invest in students and help them be prepared for career opportunities in engineering and science while making a difference in the world today." Gov. Bobby Jindal allocated $50 million in capital outlay funding for the Taylor Hall renovation in his budget for fiscal year...

LSU graduation rate rises to all-time high of 69.1%

LSU reports its six-year graduation rate has once again increased to an all-time high—for the third year straight—this time moving to 69.1%, up from 66.7% last year. Last year marked the first time LSU surpassed the average graduation rate of its peers in the Southern Regional Education Board report, LSU says in a release issued today. This year's graduation rate would also surpass that latest SREB published figure, which was 65%, LSU says, noting the newest SREB report and peer average will be released later this year. "We also graduated the second largest class in LSU history, meaning we were more successful than we've ever been and with a larger number of students," LSU President F. King Alexander says in the release. LSU implemented its first admission requirements in 1988. In 1994, that incoming class had a reported six-year graduation rate of 44.2%. LSU has now...

Challenges await next LSU of Alexandria chancellor

Louisiana State University of Alexandria needs a chancellor who can help the school boost enrollment and develop its identity in central Louisiana. At least that's the consensus view of some involved in the search for a chancellor, as well as some faculty members, The Town Talk of Alexandria reports. "I think LSUA needs a strong leader who can not only be comfortable with the community but who can help continue its reorganization and focus to increase enrollment and enhance our student population," says Alexandria attorney Charles Weems III, LSUA Foundation Board chairman and search committee co-chairman. Weems says he isn't sure there is a "magic number" for enrollment but that a population of more than 3,000 students—up from fall enrollment of about 2,236—would be beneficial for the university and community. "There's no reason why we can't do that," he says. LSU has named three finalists for the chancellor position: Luoluo Hong, vice chancellor for student...

Who's on the board?

Gary Laborde, New Orleans
President & CEO, Laborde Marine Lifts Inc.

LSU names new CFO of system and flagship campus

LSU President F. King Alexander announced today that Daniel T. Layzell has been tapped to fill a new position within the university system, in which he'll be chief financial officer of both LSU's statewide operations and the flagship campus in Baton Rouge. Layzell, who has been vice president for finance and planning at Illinois State University since 2009, will take over as LSU vice president for finance and administration on Feb. 25 should his appointment be approved by the LSU Board of Supervisors. His new role will include executive-level planning, implementation and assessment of financial and administrative strategies, policies and procedures, according to a news release LSU issued earlier today. In his new job, Layzell will report directly to Alexander, serving as chief adviser to the president and board of supervisors on all fiscal and administrative matters. "I'm excited...

Smart growth in the new year

The year behind us included several huge announcements for developments in Baton Rouge, and all of these projects look to improve the urban core of the city in 2014. We take a look at the stats on some of these projects below:

Leonela Guzmn

Occupation: Student, Public Relations Coordinator for Delta Literary Journal
Hometown: Lake Charles
Age: 22

Richard Koubek

Occupation: Dean, LSU College of Engineering
Hometown: Berwyn, Ill.
Age: 54

F. King Alexander

Occupation: President, LSU System; Chancellor of Louisiana State University and A&M College
Hometown: Louisville, Ky.
Age: 50

Task force suggests changes to tuition and TOPS

A study panel is recommending that lawmakers give up their authority to control college tuition costs and put limits on the state's free college tuition program called TOPS. The suggestions were approved today by a group of higher education leaders and students—called the Tuition Task Force—that has been looking at college tuition policy since October. As The Associated Press reports, the recommendations will be submitted to lawmakers for consideration in the next legislative session. But the ideas aren't new, and many of them have been rejected by the Legislature in prior years, so it's unclear if they'll get renewed traction. The task force says tuition control should be given to university boards rather than lawmakers, and says TOPS awards should be a flat amount not tied to the price of tuition.

Aimee Simon

Under an oak tree in the shadow of Tiger Stadium stands a very special wall. Inscribed on it are the names of LSU football players who have achieved Academic All-American status, and above them is the name of an organization that has helped many Tiger athletes achieve academic success: the Bengal Belles.

10 Questions: Southern University

It has been nearly two years since Southern University's Baton Rouge campus declared a financial emergency to cut costs by eliminating tenured faculty. The exigency is over, but the reorganization into a more sustainable, effective university has just begun. Chancellor James Llorens talks about the road ahead.

Will Campbell Jr.

"I learned my work ethic from my parents while growing up in Mississippi. I started my own business when I was 10 years old with my brother, cutting grass. I got that from my mom and dad. My dad worked as a machinist for a shipbuilder, and he had a transportation service. He always had two or three different things going on at one time. When he was laid off, he got a truck to haul wood to the mill. My mom was a home health aide and had a job even on the weekends. It was always instilled in me: Do whatever it takes to make it. My faith and my roots have made me what I am today."

The extra mile

Cornerback, New York Giants

'Business Report': Facing extraordinary demand, Louisiana's vocational campuses are expanding

At least three new technical colleges are in the works in the Capital Region. As Business Report details in a feature from the current issue, the expansion couldn't come at a better time, considering a period of massive industrial expansion has arrived in south Louisiana—creating a demand for tens of thousands of new workers with the kinds of skills that such campuses provide: welders, carpenters, electricians, instrumentation specialists, millwrights, pipefitters and the like. In September, the Baton Rouge Community College opened its new 15,547-square-foot Westside campus behind Plaquemine High School. Construction is underway on the new River Parishes Community College in Gonzales, slated to open next fall. And consultants have been hired to evaluate the feasibility of a proposed campus in Livingston Parish. The campuses may help close the gap between Louisiana's ability to produce skilled technical workers and the rising regional demand for them. A recent Louisiana...

Getting technical

At least three new technical colleges are in the works in the Capital Region.

LSU president continues push for more state support

LSU's newest supercomputer, SuperMIC, can complete one quadrillion computations per second, a scientific marvel LSU President F. King Alexander used as an illustration of the dramatic power of investment in higher education in his remarks to the Baton Rouge Press Club today. Alexander wants to do even more with LSU's supercomputing program, one reason LSU needs state government to increase its investment. "We will continue investing in our computational power as a platform," Alexander said in describing part three of his six-part agenda for the future of LSU. He has been advocating for greater state support and investment in talks to various community groups over the past few weeks. Two weeks ago, he gave a similar speech to the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge. One thing Alexander said state funding would be used to address is deferred maintenance. LSU is now $250 million-$300 million...

Community college may build at LSU Alexandria

Officials with LSU at Alexandria are touting a plan for a community college to build on its campus. Central Louisiana Technical Community College is looking at four possible sites to build a new main campus. Besides LSUA, The Town Talk reports, the college is also considering sites in Alexandria, in Pineville and at England Airpark. The state has approved $19 million for the community college to build a new campus. Paul Coreil, interim chancellor at LSUA, says the community college could save money by building on the university's campus south of Alexandria. LSUA has underused space, according to a report from the Board of Regents, and officials say the community college could use LSUA facilities such as its library, bookstore, child-care center, student housing and recreation facilities. A direct partnership between the two...

Southern wants to strengthen ties to local businesses

Southern University has long had strong relationships with national corporations, says James Llorens, chancellor of the Baton Rouge main campus. That includes large corporations with a local presence, such as Dow Chemical and ExxonMobil. But he says ties haven't been as strong with local businesses. "I think that's an opportunity for us to grow," Llorens says. Many national companies make a point of having a diverse workforce, he explains, so historically black colleges and universities like Southern are an important part of their recruiting base. "A lot of our students are winding up outside of Louisiana, going to Texas, or to job opportunities in the Northeast or on the West Coast," he says. "Some of those students would love to remain here in Louisiana." Llorens says Southern is reaching out to local companies, encouraging them to participate in the school's advisory boards, to make sure the university is producing graduates with skills the local market needs. He also is looking...

Regents ask for $87M budget increase next year

The state's top higher education board is asking Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Legislature for an $87 million boost in college funding next year. The Board of Regents approved its 2014-15 budget request Wednesday, to be forwarded to the governor's Division of Administration. The Associated Press reports that the Board of Regents' proposal for the fiscal year that begins July 1 comes after six years of budget cuts that have stripped $690 million in state financing from Louisiana's colleges. Tuition has filled only part of the gap. The request includes a $36 million base increase for two-year and four-year campuses, $17 million for specialized programs like the law schools, $4 million for research facilities and $30 million to reduce the backlog for high-demand programs. Jindal won't unveil his 2014-15 budget recommendations to lawmakers until early next year.

Taking work for a test drive

While having a college degree may be your ticket to an interview after graduation, your experiential education is what will actually help you land a job.

Real work stories!

Name: Adrian Griffin (on right)
Hometown: El Dorado, Ark.
High School: El Dorado High School
College: Louisiana Tech
Major: Professional aviation (minor in aviation management)
Employer: Wampold Companies
Current city: Zachary

Learning takes flight

What's new in the world of unique classes and degree programs at Louisiana colleges and universities this year?