LSU Transition Advisory Team Holds Immersion Workshop

BATON ROUGE – LSU’s Transition Advisory Team, a 10-member panel tasked with providing information to the LSU Board of Supervisors to facilitate the reshaping of the LSU System, held an Immersion Workshop on Thursday, Feb. 7, at the LSU Energy, Coast and Environment Building.

At the meeting, the team discussed the elements of a vision and basic tenets for LSU, which will form the foundation of the team’s first report to the Board of Supervisors in March.

LSU Board of Supervisors Chair Hank Danos kicked off the workshop by thanking the Transition Advisory Team members for their willingness to serve the university. Danos said the team is working to help prepare LSU to be the global university it needs to be in the future.

“It’s an exciting time in our history,” said Danos, who encouraged the team to focus on objectives that can be reasonably achieved in the short term to set the pace for the LSU 2015 process.

The Transition Advisory Team discussed common themes that institutions across the country are facing. These items included unsustainable cost trends, growing and changing consumer demands, and rapidly emerging technologies.

The team discussed imperatives for LSU’s transformation, which include refocusing energy and resources on academics, developing and leveraging alternative revenue sources, serving the economic and workforce development needs of the state and students, and improving quality through innovative delivery models and collaborative research. These priorities will form the basis of the team’s report to the Board of Supervisors.

During the meeting, Stan Ikenberry, the former president of the University of Illinois and of the American Council of Education, provided insight into other universities’ efforts to prepare for the future with his discussion, “Best Practices in Higher Education Transformation.”
Ikenberry said that higher education in the U.S. is facing a challenging time when three major forces are impinging on every institution in the country: access, quality and performance matter now more than before; the business model under which public higher education has operated over last century is showing some strain; and the pace of change, particularly technological change, is more rapid than ever before.

Ikenberry suggested that reorganization should be a multi-phased process. He said the first phase would prove more rewarding if the team focused on basic administrative and governmental structural changes. Some examples included reducing layers, focusing on not just restructuring but also on improving administrative performance and responsibility, reducing overhead, and increasing investment in teaching and research. He said the most tangible rewards lie in getting the basic structure in place, reducing cost and increasing performance.

“Your primary aim of creating a world-class university is important and a great rallying point of what you’re working on, and it’s important to those that LSU serves,” said Ikenberry, who added this process will hopefully result in a stronger business model and make the university more nimble and adaptive.

Ikenberry strongly urged the Transition Advisory Team to recognize, value and preserve LSU’s uniqueness as they work through the reorganization process.

“Making these changes but understanding the constructive LSU uniqueness and preserving that in a reconstructed and streamlined way is important,” he said.

The Transition Advisory Team held a group discussion on their vision and tenants for LSU and looked ahead to the future and how the university could look in 10 years.

An update on the status and structure of the Transition Advisory Team subcommittee meetings was discussed by the group. Each subcommittee will meet no less than three times and have at least one meeting outside Baton Rouge. All subcommittee meetings will be open to the public, and local and national subject matter experts will be invited to speak. Testimonies from other relevant individuals will be heard, and subcommittees and the Transition Advisory Team will use online surveys to gain additional input from students, faculty and staff.

The Transition Advisory Team Immersion Workshop was available online via live streaming video for those who could not attend in person. Individuals watching online participated in the question and answer session with Ikenberry, and viewership reached nearly 150 at points during the meeting.

For more information about LSU’s re-organization process, visit www.lsu.edu/LSU2015.