Decisions Changing LSU Could Be Made in Fall

The LSU Board of Supervisors is going to school this fall to determine how to restructure the management of the university system and what kind of leader or leaders are needed to carry out the plan.

The consensus of supervisors meeting in a retreat this past weekend was to determine a direction by the end of the year. Or earlier, according to supervisor Blake Chatelain. “I hope we make a decision in October,” said the Alexandria banker. “As chairman of the search committee, I’m ready to start looking.

The full board just needs to tell him what to look for: a new president and a new chancellor for the main campus, or someone to fill a combined position. Chatelain sees the board leaning toward the latter. “We probably all believe the combined roles make sense,” he said. “You just have that natural friction between a president and chancellor. If you hire two strong leaders, it’s hard to avoid.”

Having both positions vacant simultaneously presents a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Chatelain, but the board also need not feel rushed, given that former president Bill Jenkins, who also once filled both positions, is doing so again.

Combining the positions would be easier and quicker than consolidating institutions, such as the AgCenter, law school and Pennington Research Center with LSU A&M, as the main campus is called. A consultant’s report estimated the consolidation could take two to ten years, though some members believe it could happen sooner.

The other big decision is what to do with the LSU hospital system, a question Chatelain thinks may need to wait “until we see what we have left with health care” after the ongoing budgetary shake-out. Changes there could affect the new president’s job description. “If you pull some of the health care responsibilities off the president, the job doesn’t look quite as big,” he said.

The board will continue its discussion at its Sept. 7 meeting.

By John Maginnis, From LaPolitics Weekly