LSU System Work Group Proposes Shifting Louisiana Tech to LSU System; Creation of Multi-University Collaboration

LSU System President John Lombardi speaks with The Shreveport Times on Wednesday about an alternative to the recent consultant's report on higher education in northwest Louisiana. LSU’s Work Group on Organization and Collaboration is proposing that Louisiana Tech be shifted to the LSU System instead of merging LSU Shreveport with LaTech. (Photo by Douglas Collier/The Shreveport Times)

SHREVEPORT—LSU System President John Lombardi on Wednesday proposed shifting Louisiana Tech University to the LSU System and the creation of an alliance of public and private universities, community colleges, and technical schools in Northwest Louisiana, a consortium of higher education institutions designed to offer new academic programs to geographically bound students at LSU Shreveport and throughout the region.

Moving LaTech into the LSU System would “align the research aspirations and accomplishments of LaTech with the extraordinary research capacity of the LSU System,” said Lombardi, who announced the proposal as he began two days of meetings with LSUS and LSU Health Sciences Center faculty, staff, and students to discuss possible reorganization of the LSU System.

To be known as the Northwest Louisiana Initiative, the postsecondary collaborative plan Lombardi disclosed grew from work by the new LSU System Work Group on Organization and Collaboration, which is made up of LSU Board members and LSU System staffers.

The move, Lombardi told the Shreveport Times editorial board, also is aimed at the adoption of a regional approach to education while responding to the need for additional degree programs in the Shreveport Bossier area.

In October, the LSU Work Group, in an initial report to the LSU Board, said it supports developing a stronger LSU Shreveport rather than merging LSUS with Louisiana Tech in Ruston.  The Louisiana Board of Regents last week, however, approved and sent to the Legislature an LSUS/LaTech merger proposal based on a recommendation by an educational consultant hired by the Regents and a group of Shreveport area business leaders.

At the same time, the consultant’s report acknowledged that the preferred alternative to a merger, which was described as “difficult, contentious, expensive, and time-consuming,” was to move Louisiana Tech into the LSU System and act immediately to build programs in Shreveport-Bossier that mobilize the assets of the three major public institutions in the region: LaTech, LSU-S, and the LSU Health Sciences Center Shreveport (LSUHSC-S).

“A transfer and collaboration…is fast, efficient, and can begin to produce results immediately for the region,” the LSU Work Group asserted in its proposal.

“The idea is how can you serve people with the assets you have,” Lombardi noted.

In recommending a merger of LSUS and Louisiana Tech, the LSU Work Group noted the consultant conceded that the idea of moving Tech to the LSU System, although preferred, was turned aside because of an informal presentation by a non-governmental, ad hoc group that wants to consolidate all LSU institutions into a single university structure based on the Baton Rouge Flagship campus.

Pointing out that it has yet to determine which improvements to recommend to the LSU Board, the Work Group said the university system “must support the effectiveness and distinctiveness of each of its campuses” and that the units should “maintain clear regional and individual identities that allow them to pursue their specific missions or special academic specialties whether in research, instruction, or service.”

A special task force made up of representatives from participating institutions would work out details on which programs would be shared under the Northwest Initiative, but Lombardi said the first programs could be in operation within a year.

Lombardi pointed out that the collaboration would quickly boost ties among regional community colleges and other public and private universities such as Centenary College, Grambling University, and Northwestern University.

Under the Northwest Initiative proposal, students would register at a sponsoring campus; pay tuition and fees set by the sponsoring campus, and, if completing a degree, would receive the degree from the sponsoring campus.  The plan also would ease the transfer process for students as they seek associate, bachelor’s and graduate degrees.

The LSU System Work Group was created by the LSU Board last fall to examine potential restructuring of the entire LSU System that supervises LSU campuses, research units, 10 public hospitals, 500 physician clinics, and two health sciences centers.
Click here for a recording of the session.Click here to read the document.

For further information, contact Charles Zewe, LSU System Vice President for Communication and External Affairs, 504-251-5400 (czewe@lsu.edu).