LSU Transition Advisory Team Meets July 22, Outlines Priority Inputs

LSU’s Transition Advisory Team met on Monday, July 22, at LSU to discuss the priority inputs to be delivered to the LSU Board of Supervisors on Friday, July 26.

The Transition Advisory team is a 10-member panel tasked with providing information to the LSU Board of Supervisors to facilitate the reshaping of the LSU System. The meeting was streamed live via the Internet for those who could not attend and meeting archives are available at

William Jenkins, LSU System president emeritus, delivered opening comments to get the meeting started. He thanked the Transition Advisory Team members for their work and expressed his gratitude to them for their time and efforts.

“It’s clear to me that we’re on the right track,” Jenkins said. “We have to create our own future in an innovative, adaptable, inclusive way, and I believe we’re underway.”

Dr. Lester W. Johnson, professor and chief of surgery and director of Surgical Services at LSU Health Sciences Center and co-chair of the Academic Sub-Committee, provided the transformation priorities and escalators to excellence as outlined by the Academic Sub-Committee.

The Academic Sub-Committee compiled a list of study topics that combines aspiration with practicality and suggests the creation of task forces to recommend and encourage bold reforms.

Christel Slaughter of SSA Consultants said that these topics need to be further studied by faculty from across LSU.

James W. “Jim” Firnberg, chancellor emeritus of LSU-Alexandria and chair of the Research and Discovery Sub-Committee, outlined the transformation priorities from his sub-committee.

Firnberg said his sub-committee focused on three areas of the Transition Advisory Team’s charge during their meetings: be globally competitive, have robust research and impact economic development.

The Research and Discover Sub-Committee found that to create the infrastructure required to capture LSU’s $250 to $350 million share of competitively funded research, the university needs to stabilize the faculty, provide a new level of investment in research faculty, add graduate students, expand undergraduate research and strengthen administrative support.

The sub-committee outlined targeted areas that will allow for clustering of researchers and discoveries that will produce significant returns on those investments over time. These areas include coastal and environmental science and engineering; biological, and biotechnical research; energy; computation and digital media; arts and humanities; and agricultural and natural resources.

Slaughter noted that this does not mean these are the only areas that LSU values, but it does provide a short list for cluster hiring, branding and expertise.

“These are the kinds of things that we hope that LSU is already known for,” Slaughter added.

Carroll W. Suggs, former chairwoman, president and CEO of Petroleum Helicopters Inc. and co-chair of the Student Experience Sub-Committee, delivered the transformation priorities from her sub-committee.

The Student Experience Sub-Committee outlined ways for LSU to recruit aggressively for all campuses, key areas of opportunity for improving student retention and graduation rates, and ways to expand the focus on serving non-traditional students.

F. King Alexander, LSU president and chancellor, outlined the populations of students that need to be better served: students already on campus, students who started college but didn’t finish, military veterans and people who need a college education but never pursued it.

Alexander said LSU needs to look at how it can be flexible in serving these populations to recruit and retain them through graduation.

“The need is certainly there,” he said.

As part of the Operations and Technology Sub-Committee transformation priorities, the sub-committee looked at how LSU could implement pilot procurement code, implement e-procurement and conduct a spend analysis. They also outlined ways to capture risk management savings.

The sub-committee reviewed the ways to project a single, globally competitive LSU. LSU has the opportunity to build a stronger, more consistent brand that reflects LSU’s unique strengths and contributions.

The sub-committee looked at how LSU could establish a service model research corporation or foundation. They noted that LSU should reinvent its commercialization and technology transfer system to include a new level of leadership commitment to commercialization and technology transfer. A new service model research foundation could be designed to proactively and efficiently deliver the technical administrative services vital to building a top tier commercialization and tech transfer system.

“There are a number of land-grant institutions that use this type of model,” said Bill Silvia, president and CEO of the Pennington Medical Foundation and co-chair of the Technology and Operations Sub-Committee.

As part of the Finance and Revenue Sub-Committee transformation priorities, the Transition Advisory Team was presented ways to identify and evaluate innovative opportunities to generate new revenue.

Silvia said that many of the examples provided by the sub-committee represent a changing of the classification of an asset. He said that they looked at ways to get back to LSU’s core mission and whether the university needs to stay in an area that drains resources, time and attention.

Another focus of generating new revenue is building foundation assets and endowments across LSU’s multiple foundations through stronger affiliation agreements and focused efforts in institutional advancement.

“I look forward to the opportunities to grow our fundraising,” said Lee Griffin, president and CEO of the LSU Foundation and co-chair of the Finance and Revenue Sub-Committee.

The team also discussed ways to build and maintain a “Big Data” strategic advantage that attracts top students, faculty, researchers and entrepreneurs.

“This truly can be a statewide resource,” Silvia said.

Another priority input of the Finance and Revenue Sub-Committee is to modernize enterprise information systems.

Slaughter said they knew from the start that this was something the Transition Advisory Team had to wrestle with and to bring forth a strong recommendation.

A modern suite of enterprise information systems would facilitate efficient and effective day-to-day operations and collaboration across the university. After research and discussion with experts from around the country, the sub-committee recommends a multi-source, phased approach for IT system support.

“The reality is we have a high-risk system today,” said Clarence Cazalot, chairman, president and CEO of Marathon Oil Corp. and co-chair of the Finance and Revenue Sub-Committee, of LSU’s current legacy system. “We have to make the change sooner rather than later, so we should do it in a deliberate, planned fashion.”

To support the realigning and reorganizing of LSU, the sub-committee urged that an IT governance model should be developed and implemented.

The organizational model should allow for each campus to have sufficient autonomy to carry out its respective mission and to address the unique needs of the campus, while keeping in mind the goal “… to build a single, statewide, globally competitive LSU.”

The Transition Advisory Team also discussed ways to streamline human resource decision making to allow for greater equity and efficiency and to adopt revised permanent memorandum that reflect best practices, including the promotion of a flatter organization.

The meeting ended with Slaughter providing a review of next steps with an overview of the LSU2015 vision, tenants and foundational issues.
The four foundational issues outlined by the Transition Advisory Team include high performance culture; management model; funding; and academic program and faculty productivity evaluation.

“We’re doing the right thing at the right time for the right reasons,” Jenkins said.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Alexander provided his thoughts on the LSU2015 process and said that funding is an issue everywhere, but LSU has a good story to tell with its graduates and the work being done by faculty and staff.

“It’s a challenging environment to be in public higher education,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do … we’ve been playing defense for too long.”

The team held its initial meeting on Jan. 8, an Immersion Workshop on Feb. 7, its third meeting on Feb. 19 and its fourth meeting with Ohio State University President Gordon Gee by Skype on March 5. The team met for the fifth time April 16 in a meeting that featured Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute, and Stephen Moret, Secretary of Louisiana Economic Development, and then a partial group met on April 19 with representatives from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or SACS. The team’s last meeting occurred on May 21 at LSU’s Business Education Complex, where they heard reports from each sub-committee in the LSU2015 process.

Agendas for this and all LSU2015 sub-committee and task force group meetings can be found at Information on Transition Advisory Team members is available at

More information on LSU’s reorganization process can be found at Information on the site includes meeting schedules, minutes and video and presentations from past meetings. Also, visit LSU’s reorganization Facebook page at