Report urges stronger LSU-Shreveport

Associated Press Newswires

November 9, 2011

 BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – A new LSU System report supports developing a stronger LSU at Shreveport rather than merging the college with Louisiana Tech University or any other institution.

The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/rtbtlC ) the preliminary report of the new LSU System Work Group on Organization and Collaboration coincides with a study funded by business leaders in the Shreveport area that is looking into a potential merger of LSU-S and Louisiana Tech in Ruston, which is part of the University of Louisiana System.

LSU System President John Lombardi complained last month that the Shreveport-based study was being conducted without involving the LSU System.

He suggested that Louisiana Tech was better off merging with Grambling State University and the University of Louisiana at Monroe than with LSU-Shreveport.

The new LSU System work group of LSU Board of Supervisors members and LSU System staffers was formed more than two weeks ago and is meeting privately.

The initial report focuses on the Shreveport-Bossier region, but the work group also will look at overall restructuring and efficiencies within the LSU System that oversees the LSU campuses, hospitals and other research units.

The report essentially concludes any LSU-S mergers are not worth the effort.

“Most observers conclude that the marginal benefits of these restructuring proposals would not justify the expense, and the state could employ the required investment much more productively in expanding programs rather than producing structural or governance changes,” the report states.

A full implementation plan for improvements is expected in early 2012, according to the report.

But one of the major recommended changes is for other public and private universities to offer new academic programs to geographically bound students at LSU in Shreveport.

“Any university, public or private, participating in this joint effort on the LSU in Shreveport campus will have full responsibility for the academic content of their programs,” the report states. “Students will register on the sponsoring campus … pay tuition and fees as established by the sponsoring campus and, if completing a degree, will receive the degree from the sponsoring campus.”

The report also suggests bolstering ties even more with the regional community colleges and other universities for eased transfer processes from associate degrees to bachelor’s degrees to graduate awards.

But, in order for these and other gains to be made, the Louisiana Board of Regents that oversees higher education in Louisiana must “support new bachelor and advanced degree programs as well as an enhanced role, scope and mission for LSU-S,” according to the report.

In recent years, the Board of Regents has been hesitant to approve such expansions under the argument that regional universities have tried to grow through so-called mission creep.