LSU Board of Supervisors Agrees to Administratively Consolidate AgCenter and LSU College of Agriculture

The LSU Agricultural Center and the LSU College of Agriculture will administratively consolidate in an effort to expand its statewide impact through more integrated teaching, research and public service, while also creating more administrative efficiencies.

LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander presented the administrative consolidation at the Sept. 6 Board of Supervisors meeting, and the Board of Supervisors approved the measure.

Alexander will now initiate and oversee a nine-month process where faculty, staff and students will work with administrative officials to consolidate efforts to enhance the College of Agriculture and the AgCenter to better serve the academic and public service needs of Louisianans in every parish throughout the state.

The process will begin with implementation of administrative oversight. College of Agriculture Dean Kenneth Koonce will return to faculty effective Oct. 8, and AgCenter Chancellor William “Bill” Richardson will take on the new role of Vice President of Agriculture and Dean of the College of Agriculture.

“A single administrator over LSU’s agricultural efforts will ensure better coordination in meeting the research and workforce needs of the state,” Alexander said. “We also appreciate Dean Koonce’s leadership on this administrative consolidation, which he believes will be positive for agriculture in Louisiana.”

Alexander added, “I can foresee this expanding the role and mission of our extension service efforts. In keeping with the mission of a land-grant university, this allows LSU to broaden the scope of services offered through extension to include more business, education and health-related opportunities, along with the traditional agriculture services.”

This past year, there were 154 faculty and staff who were jointly employed in the LSU and the LSU AgCenter. With the administrative consolidation, there will be opportunities to streamline and blend processes for approval of faculty hires, the manner in which promotion and tenure is considered, and appointment of faculty with the consideration of workload. Shared resources among faculty allows for more flexibility to address emerging needs for academics, research and extension.

“This arrangement represents a major change to unify all agriculture programs,” Richardson said. “We expect to see greater cohesiveness by bringing together resources to better serve the agricultural community and strengthen teaching programs.”

Over the past several years, both LSU and the LSU AgCenter, which have been separated since 1972, have discussed ways to combine academic units and expertise to capitalize on shared resources. At the request of the president, and with the support of both LSU and the LSU AgCenter, this proposal consolidates administration of agricultural programs for all three functions:  teaching, research and extension.

The proposal will provide greater efficiency in administrative and operational oversight, a more unified workforce, greater visibility for recruiting students and engaging stakeholders, enhanced productivity in research and academic pursuits, and more effective use of resources.

“By consolidating administrative functions of the AgCenter and the College of Agriculture, LSU will be better able to serve the needs of Louisiana,” said LSU Executive Vice Chancellor & Provost Stuart Bell. “In addition to providing efficiencies, this will integrate our agriculture efforts and research in our other colleges as well. We see this benefiting the citizens across Louisiana, along with providing more opportunities for our students and faculty researchers.”

Having a single identity for agriculture at LSU highlights the university’s commitment to agriculture in the state, creates a more robust program for students and eliminates stakeholder confusion. In addition, it is anticipated that instructional and research opportunities for faculty and students will grow with an increase in interdisciplinary research involving agriculture.

Other benefits include increased access to the statewide LSU AgCenter Research and Extension network for student internships, learning-by-doing exercises and discipline-specific service projects. There will also be greater opportunity for cooperative agreements in research/academic arenas with other LSU campuses and college systems in the state.

“The consolidation of AgCenter and College of Agriculture administration will strengthen the status of faculty in agriculture and improve our program delivery throughout Louisiana,” said Kenneth W. McMillin, chair of the LSU AgCenter Faculty Council. “The statewide educational and cultural efforts will be more cohesive in providing sustenance and economic development for our clientele. It is encouraging that the ‘A’ in LSU and Agricultural & Mechanical College will be integrated with the mechanical and human orientations in a unified LSU.”