Academic, Research & Discovery Sub-Committees Meet at LSUHSC New Orleans

BATON ROUGE – The second meetings of the Academic and Research & Discovery Sub-Committees of the Transition Advisory Team took place Monday, March 11, at the LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans. The sub-committees are part of the LSU2015 process for the reorganization of LSU.

The sub-committees discuss areas of focus and key priorities and are mapping out work plans by topic areas. Sub-committees are gathering information and crafting recommendations that will be presented to the Transition Advisory Team and ultimately the LSU Board of Supervisors.

The Academic Sub-Committee is focusing on inter- and intra-campus innovation and collaboration, academic standards and the strategic deployment of academic programs and leveraging technology for learning. It is co-chaired by William Jenkins, interim president and chancellor of LSU, and Lester W. Johnson, professor and chief of surgery and director of surgical services at LSU Health Sciences Center.

Jenkins opened the meeting by inviting Dr. Larry Hollier, LSUHSC New Orleans chancellor, to provide an update on the facilities at the LSU HSC New Orleans campus. Hollier welcomed the group and gave an overview of construction progress and building openings in the recent months.

“We are very blessed to be able to have these buildings constructed at this time and are happy to be sharing them with you today,” Hollier said.

Following a review of the Transition Advisory Team’s recent discussion with The Ohio State University President Gordon Gee from March 5, more information found at http://www.lsu.edu/ur/ocur/lsunews/MediaCenter/News/2013/03/item58828.html, the Academic Sub-Committee held a group discussion of key issues facing LSU’s academic community.

The discussion was centered on the group’s homework questions from their last meeting, which took place Feb. 28. These homework questions were what can we do to make us more efficient, better and nationally and internationally competitive and what can we do to meet the charge we have?

Jenkins said that as he looks at the landscape of higher education, there is an imperative to do things differently.

“We don’t want to undertake something that’s going to fail. You know me, I don’t believe in failure,” Jenkins said. “If we do this right, it has to be what’s best for the citizens of Louisiana.”

Part of the meeting was spent discussing The Ohio State University’s model and the pros and cons of that model from an academic standpoint to see if a similar model is the best fit for LSU.

“We’re creating our model; we’re not following anyone’s model,” said Jenkins, regarding concerns over some aspects of Ohio State’s model. “We need to create our structure.”

Other topics brought up during the Academic group discussion included promotion and tenure; faculty salaries and compensation, especially as LSU moves toward more online courses; faculty mobility; paperless processes; keeping students in the state; campus integration opportunities; and NSF rankings.

“This is an opportunity for change,” said John Vassar, interim provost, academic affairs at LSU Shreveport. “There’s far more dialogue in the past few months than my previous 13 years in the system.”

Building trust and increasing communication across the system was a common topic from members of the sub-committee from campuses from across the state.

“In the emerging world, collaboration is the name of the game,” said Terry Davis, professor, medicine and pediatrics, LSUHSC Shreveport. “We’ve got to get to know each other and know that we’re all going to help each other.”

Finding ways to increase communication and build trust has been an important initiative of the Transition Advisory Team and the Board of Supervisors throughout the reorganization process.

“Remember my quote, ‘we’re all in this together,’” Jenkins said.

The sub-committee closed their meeting by brainstorming ideas on advancing the academic team as they prepare for their next meeting on April 5 at the LSU AgCenter in Baton Rouge.

The Research & Discovery Sub-Committee is reviewing data on current productivity and strengths in research efforts, investigating opportunities for joint research proposals and projects with potential collaboration incentives, proposing recommendations to improve productivity and accountability and leveraging technology transfer opportunities. It is chaired by James Firnberg, chancellor emeritus of LSU-Alexandria, president emeritus of Our Lady of the Lake College and an LSU professor emeritus.

Anthony Gillespie and Mitch Horowitz with Battelle Technology Partnership Practice opened the Research & Discovery Sub-Committee meeting with a presentation on “Strategic Inventory of Louisiana Research and Innovation Assets.”

Gillespie outlined emerging sector perspectives in a number of areas related to research capabilities in place at Louisiana universities. These sectors included digital media & enterprise software, water management, clean technology, advanced manufacturing, life sciences, next generation oil & gas and nuclear energy.

During the sub-committee meeting, representatives from both the LSUHSC New Orleans and LSUHSC Shreveport presented the key research assets and areas of strength for their institutions. They also touched upon the significant cross-campus collaborative projects they were currently involved in with other LSU System campuses.

Dr. Steve Nelson, dean of the LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans, presented the key research assets and areas of strength of LSU HSC New Orleans School of Medicine. The areas that he touched upon included alcohol and drug abuse research, neuroscience research, cancer research, and immunology/infectious diseases.

“Research is a team sport, that’s what it’s really all about,” Nelson said.

Dr. Elizabeth “Terry” Fontham, dean of LSU HSC School of Public Health, provided the overview for the School of Public Health. The key areas included cancer research; obesity, tobacco, alcohol and other modifiable risk factors; environment and health; and disparities reduction.

Fontham discussed how to best help faculty expand research activities and collaborations and the importance of the research program to the LSUHSC School of Public Health.

“We wouldn’t have many faculty if we didn’t have those grants and contracts,” Fontham said. “The answer to how important is research: it’s absolutely essential in every aspect of our school, including teaching.”

The overview of the key assets and areas of strength for the LSU HSC Shreveport was provided by Dr. Robert Barish, chancellor, and Dr. Andrew Chesson, dean, School of Medicine.

They focused on the research areas in Shreveport but highlighted their highly dedicated faculty, who are competitive not only on a state level, but on a national one.

Chesson said that offering competitive salaries and benefits packages are important for recruiting new faculty, but are also important in retaining current faculty, who are actively being recruited by other institutions.

Aaron Miscenich, president of The New Orleans BioInnovation Center, provided an overview of the BioInnovation Center and how their business incubator operates. The New Orleans BioInnovation Center houses a new generation of innovators from Louisiana’s burgeoning life science community. Situated between the Greater New Orleans Biosciences Economic Development District and the New Orleans Medical District, on the 1400 block of Canal, the center offers 66,000 square feet of state of the art wet-lab, office and conference space.

Mike Marsiglia with Marsiglia Construction talked to the sub-committee about the importance of having a sustainable workforce and the need for partnerships with universities to help provide workforce training.

“If we have a sustainable workforce, it filters into every business,” Marsiglia said.

Marsiglia also talked about the opportunities to partner with universities to research and meet the needs of citizens, such as assisting small businesses in keeping up with the fast-paced changes in technology.

Research and Discovery Sub-Committee will next meet on April 1 at the LSU AgCenter in Baton Rouge.

Online video streaming is available at http://www.lsu.edu/tat for all reorganization-related meetings for those who cannot attend in person.

The names of Transition Advisory Team Sub-Committee members, along with Task Force Group members, are available at http://www.lsu.edu/LSU2015/subcommittees.shtml.

More information on LSU’s reorganization process can be found at www.lsu.edu/LSU2015. Information on the site includes meeting schedules, minutes and video and presentations from past meetings. Also, visit LSU’s reorganization Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/LSU2015transition.