LSU System Information

Development of the LSU System

The remains of the first Louisiana Seminary built in 1859 in Pineville, Louisiana. It was destroyed by fire in 1869.

Origins of the LSU System office are rooted in the recognition of the need for three things for LSU institutions statewide: Supervision. Coordination. Long-range Planning.

The relatively rapid development of LSU-affiliated campuses played a large role in creating the impetus for establishment of an organized structure to oversee operations.

The need for a system, in fact, can be traced to the mid-1930s and the creation of junior college campuses (Monroe (1934), Lake Charles (1939), and Thibodaux (1949) that were placed under the supervision of the LSU Board of Supervisors.  By 1956, each of those smaller institutions had become four-year schools and were no longer under the direction of the LSU Board of Supervisors but other schools were added.  For instance, in 1958 LSU New Orleans (LSUNO) was opened as a four-year institution on the New Orleans lakefront, followed by a two-year campus, LSU Alexandria, in 1960. The growing complexity of the young ad hoc university system, however, was beginning to take a toll on administrators. That prompted the LSU Board to act.

The LSU System officially was launched on February 6, 1965, when the Board of Supervisors established LSU Shreveport and LSU Eunice; created the Office of Vice President for Graduate Studies and Research Development; revised the Regulations and Bylaws, and designated that chancellors, reporting to the President, would administer the affairs of LSU Baton Rouge and the LSU Medical Center in New Orleans. 

President John M. Hunter, in remarks at the board meeting, established the role of the new system and its relationship to the LSU campuses by explaining the rationale underpinning creation of the System.

“As the University System continues to grow,” Hunter told the board, “it becomes increasingly apparent that the primary functions of the administrators occupying system-wide offices are coordination and long-range planning.”

Dr. Hunter went on to tell board members that for several years prior to establishing the System office, the President of the University and his staff doubled as executives of the System and administrators of the Main Campus.  “As the University System becomes more and more complex, this arrangement becomes less and less desirable,” Hunter noted.

Four years later, on April 15, 1969, the LSU Board commissioned a comprehensive study of the system with an eye toward making recommendations for “the more efficient functioning and operation” of system campuses. Consultants interviewed approximately 300 people, including system administrators, faculty members and students on all LSU campuses as well as community representatives and leaders of government watchdog groups.

The Number One recommendation unanimously adopted by the consultants and everyone who took part in the study was that “The System needs to develop a System concept for all of its educational units that is not merely an extension of the Baton Rouge campus, but one that recognizes the different roles of each unit in serving the people of Louisiana.”

Prior to the report, the LSU System had developed arbitrarily over 15 years during which the Baton Rouge campus was the main unit that other campuses looked to for guidance and identification.  As smaller campuses matured, however, it became clear that they should have their own image as well as their own programs, services, identifications, and loyalties.  The question at issue in 1969 was: “Should the System be retained or should it be dissolved into separate autonomous institutions?”

A board study committee and the consultants agreed that the System must be retained and that it must be “strong and effective” in becoming “an educational enterprise greater than the sum of its parts and more than a collection of its campuses.”

And, the consultants stressed that could be achieved by “providing diversity among its campuses, by reaching similar goals by different means and by pursuing different goals on each campus.”

“The System can assure specialization by the campuses,” the consultants pointed out, “particularly in costly professional and graduate programs and it can provide cooperation among the campuses, marshaling resources throughout the System for the solution of educational and research problems in ways that could not be done by a single campus” and a considerable financial savings to the state.

The LSU Board of Supervisors' role in operating a system of institutions was clarified with the passage of Louisiana RS17: 3202 and RS17: 3301, following approval by voters of the 1974 Louisiana Constitution, establishing the Board of Supervisors as a constitutional entity (Louisiana Constitution of 1974, Article 8, Section 7).  Subsequent action by the Legislature established the LSU A&M campus as “the premier flagship university for the state.”

The Bylaws and Regulations of the Board of Supervisors outline the operation of the LSU System. A collection of Permanent Memoranda (PM's) issued from the President's office standardizes routine operational procedures.

The LSU System today is made up of the following units, each headed by a chancellor or an executive director:

Sequence of LSU System Presidents Since 1962: