Regents Slammed at Forum on LSU Shreveport/LA Tech Merger
State Senator Doubts Legislature Will Do Anything With Proposal
An LSU Shreveport student questions panelists during a forum on Thursday night on the proposed merger between LSUS and Louisiana Tech University. A number of participants at the event sharply criticized the Louisiana Board of Regents for intentionally holding back the development of degree programs at the Shreveport campus. (LSU System photo)
SHREVEPORT—At a forum on the proposed merger of LSU Shreveport and Louisiana Tech University, State Senator Robert Adley of Benton, quoting Governor Bobby Jindal, said it’s unlikely any legislation to implement the merger would get out of the Legislature during the upcoming session.
“I don’t see the administration making any moves in higher education,” Adley told the gathering on the LSU Shreveport campus. “The governor has no inclination to make changes in higher education.”
About 150 faculty, staff, and students attended the forum, which was staged by the LSUS Faculty Senate. Six member of the Shreveport-Bossier legislative delegation took part in the hour-and-a-half question and answer session on the merger proposal that was among a list of alternatives presented in a study by educational consultant Eva Klein, a study that was paid for by a private interest group and the Louisiana Board of Regents.
The Regents came in for repeated bashing from LSUS officials and faculty members who said the coordinating board had repeatedly “handcuffed” and intentionally turned down efforts to expand degree programs at the campus and to change its role, scope, and mission statement.
“We’ve got handcuffs on us,” declared faculty member Trey Gibson, an LSU graduate.
“All of us want LSUS, all of us want this university. We are a 400,000-person metropolis and it would be absolutely asinine let alone despicable not to have a major higher education institution in this area.”
LSUS Chancellor Vince Marsala said he is waiting specifics on what degree programs would be coming to LSUS before taking a position. “There has to be something on the table,” Marsala said adding, “In any merger the smaller school ends up losing out.”
To a person, legislators did not take a position on a potential LSUS merger with Tech. Rep. Thomas Carmody told the gathering that the state was headed into another tough fiscal year in which resources were becoming “more and more scarce” and that might have a big influence on what happens.
Faculty member John Rouse asked: “Where are we going to get the money to pay for all this?” “Giving me a study with all these lofty ideas without the way to pay for it doesn’t make any sense…money has to come from somewhere,” he added.
Newly elected State Senator Barrow Peacock said the emphasis should be on ensuring that LSUS offers more advanced degrees, particularly in technology. “On moving, staying or merging, I don’t know which is really the right way to go,” he said.
Legislators also agreed, however, there was not much they could do to get the Regents to changes LSUS’ role, scope, and mission statement. “At the end of the day,” one audience member said, “you’ve got to get to the governor’s office.”
Dr. Philip Rozeman, a member of the group that sponsored the study, said the Klein report was aimed at building a grater university presence in the Shreveport-Bossier area.
“We have talked about it (the merger) for quite some time,” Rozeman said. “This is simply an attempt to take a fresh look at an old problem and see if there might be other solutions we have not thought about.”
Discussions on the merger proposal continue on March 7th when LSU System President John Lombardi visits LSUS for a series of meetings with faculty, staff, and students.