AGB report: A Newly Aligned Louisiana State University, Globally Competitive for the 21st Century

A Report Prepared for the LSU Board of Supervisors

by the

Richard T. Ingram Center for Public Trusteeship and Governance

Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges

 

Richard Novak, Senior Vice President for Programs and Research and

Executive Director, Ingram Center

Thomas Meredith, Senior Fellow, Ingram Center

William Weary, President, Fieldstone Consulting and AGB Consultant

October 25, 2012

 

Overview

Louisiana State University has a long and proud history of serving Louisiana and this nation. The contributions made by this outstanding university since its creation in the 1860s are significant.

The Board of Supervisors’ determination to move forward with a new and realigned Louisiana State University constitutes recognition of the need to become fully competitive in 21st century global education – and of the benefits of doing so. For the state and the nation, and for students, faculty, and staff, the benefits of the realignment will become ever more evident. The dual vacancies within the presidency of the LSU System and the chancellorship of LSU, together with the resolve of the Board of Supervisors, make all this possible.

Introduction

At its August 18, 2012 meeting, the LSU Board of Supervisors received a report on the LSU System from the Association of Governing Boards’ Center for Public Trusteeship and Governance, “Assessment of the System’s Structure, Function and Potential: Louisiana State University System.” At that same meeting, the Board also reviewed possible future scenarios for the LSU System. Of the three scenarios offered and discussed with AGB representatives, board members resonated to a scenario that described a newly conceptualized LSU, one in which the LSU System was transformed into a single flagship institution with multiple campuses. After reviewing the report and discussing the scenarios, the Board passed a resolution at its September 7 meeting to “engage the Association of Governing Boards to provide additional research and information addressing aspects of the August 30th option for an integrated university drawing upon the structures and practices of multi-campus flagship universities.”

To inform this report, the AGB team conducted interviews with selected current and former leaders of several integrated flagship universities. Conversations were held with current and former presidents, campus chancellors, provosts, senior vice presidents, and board members from Rutgers University, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, Pennsylvania State University, Ohio State University, and the University of Montana. Many of the basic principles, structure and reporting relationships, practices, and ideas for this presentation came from lessons these universities learned, as well as from the experiences of the authors in their work in public higher education in several states. Although similar in many respects, each of the above universities is organized and operated differently, with different reporting structures and varying degrees of integration, alignment, consolidation, and autonomy. What may be created in a new Louisiana State University, of the kind suggested in the August 18 third scenario, will be unique and inevitably break new ground.

The report – a fleshed-out version of that third scenario, and prepared for the consideration, review, and ultimate decisions of the Board of Supervisors – falls into eight sections:

  1. A summary of the key features of a new LSU.
  2. A summary list of its advantages.
  3. A full list of the advantages of a restructured and realigned LSU.
  4. A set of principles on which the new LSU rests.
  5. The administrative structure: An annotated organization chart of the realigned university.
  6. Consideration of numerous individual issues associated with the integration for the years ahead.
  7. A set of tasks to be accomplished, assuming that the Board of Supervisors resolves to move toward this model.
  8. The organization chart itself.

Sections one through five are presented from the perspective of 2015, with the realignment complete. Section six identifies a series of particular aspects of the realignment, from the perspective of work to be done. Section seven lays out in sequence the major foreseeable tasks to be accomplished from this moment on, should the Board of Supervisors resolve to move forward, and section eight is the overall organization chart as of 2015, presented here, as in section five, as on suggested way to organize the new LSU.

 

1. Summary of key administrative features of a restructured and realigned LSU as an integrated flagship university, from the perspective of 2015

  • The President of the LSU System and the Chancellor of LSU-A&M are combined into a single position, the President of Louisiana State University.
  • Five Executive Vice Presidents report to the President, including a Senior Executive Vice President and Provost with primary responsibility for the A&M campus and all academic matters.
  • The administrative structure of LSU as reflected in the organization chart is relatively flat, smooth, and consistent – and provides for the kind of interaction not available in a silo-driven organization.
  • Agriculture is led by an Executive Vice President, who subsumes the work of the Ag Center and oversees the College of Agriculture.
  • The LSU Hebert Law Center and the three regional campuses are led by chancellors who report to the Senior Executive Vice President and Provost.
  • An Executive Vice President for Health Affairs helps to ensure that the LSU Health Centers in New Orleans and Shreveport, the Pennington Biomedical Research Center and Health Care Delivery (hospitals and clinics) work closely together. Each of the four entities is led by vice presidents.

2. Other key features, from the perspective of 2015

  • Multiple separate administrative functions and structures when coordinated and working together experience decreases in numbers and operate more efficiently, generating cost savings. Human resources, finance and budgeting, public relations and communications, fund-raising, governmental affairs, data warehousing, facilities oversight and coordination all are examples.
  • The new LSU is greater than the current flagship, not only in component parts, but also in reach, authority, responsibility, and opportunity. It is not a Baton Rouge institution, but a state institution.
  • LSU operates under consistent policies and procedures, but a level of campus autonomy and differentiation and academic unit autonomy remains important and necessary within the multi-campus flagship university.
  • A goal for LSU and all of its campuses – now met – has been a single, regional accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Single, programmatic accreditation across the campuses and units of the university depends on the extent of program integration at the upper division, graduate and professional levels for those programs and disciplines such as law, medicine, nursing, engineering, business, and others that require such.
  • LSU has a single curriculum with a common course numbering system for all of its campuses.
  • There is a single application form for all campuses, with indicated preferences. Each campus retains its separate admissions requirements. Students need not re-apply when transferring between campuses if they meet all academic requirements.
  • Collaborative research and teaching among various LSU campus faculty are encouraged and increased
  • During the transition period, members of the LSU family and its constituents, including the faculty, were a part of the process of forming one LSU in order to overcome concerns as they arose.

The ultimate goal is a globally competitive, 21st century university and one with a much larger footprint: The main campus develops a national and international reputation, while simultaneously broadening the mission in Louisiana to educate the state’s citizens, prepare its workforce, provide health care to its populace, and focus research and innovation for its economy.

3. Advantages of a restructured and realigned LSU, from the perspective of 2015

  1. The primary beneficiaries of the new LSU are its students, who have available to them the full resources and talents of the new LSU, including applying to multiple campuses under a simpler application process, pursuing a common curriculum with shared course numbering, moving more seamlessly among campuses, and feeling a strong connection to a large, vital university. Overall, access has increased.
  2. LSU has greater national clout and proves more attractive to potential administrators and faculty members.
  3. Faculty, particularly those on the regional campuses, have more opportunities to connect with colleagues on other LSU campuses for teaching and research.
  4. In general, rankings for LSU as a flagship continue to rise.
  5. Any campus within LSU may become the lead campus in any administrative or academic area in which it has special expertise and capacity.
  6. Through its raised profile, excellence, coherence, size, and recognition, LSU has become a greater magnet for philanthropy.
  7. LSU-Alexandria, LSU-Eunice, and LSU-Shreveport take greater pride in being part of LSU, and LSU serves their regions more effectively, especially as components work more collaboratively with each other.
  8. Under the new integrated multi-campus flagship university, each separate campus has benefited from:
    1. New academic programs, including graduate programs, which have enabled campuses to meet regional education needs better by bringing together the resources of all LSU campuses.
    2. The opportunity to contribute to a vision and strategic plan that advance LSU in a unified way.
    3. More academic programs and efficient delivery of educational programs as resources are deployed more strategically.
    4. Innovative, entrepreneurial, inter-disciplinary activities at and among the campuses.
  9. The bringing together of the component parts of the system into a common set of goals and direction has revealed areas of potential synergy and further collaboration, innovation, and creativity, both within LSU and beyond.
  10. A single, regional accreditation saves valuable time, effort, and money.
  11. A flatter, more consistent, and readily comprehended leadership structure not only saves money, it also provides for greater direction, control, accountability, and collaboration.
  12. Multiple and separate other administrative functions and structures have experienced decreases in quantity and operate more efficiently, generating cost savings. Human resources, finance and budgeting, public relations and communications, fund-raising, governmental affairs, data warehousing, facilities oversight and coordination all are examples. Moreover, the LSU A&M campus’ leadership in a number of these areas has made for easy extension and consistency when such assistance has been appropriate.
  13. The innovations in Louisiana’s health care system are more explicitly tied into LSU, benefiting research and serving the state – and nation – far better.
  14. By having the academic medical centers, hospitals and physician practice plans working more closely together in patient care, research, service and in administrative functions such as purchasing, for example, the state of Louisiana is better served and at a more efficient level.
  15. The time individuals and bodies outside LSU spent working with separate components of the system is now greatly reduced through fewer contact points. This has proven especially valuable to the Governor, Legislature, and Board of Regents.
  16. As a player within the state, LSU has an even higher profile and stronger brand, and is more capable of advancing a statewide agenda for growth.

4. Basic Principles for Success, from the perspective of 2015

  1. There remains one governing board, the LSU Board of Supervisors, with full constitutional authority over the restructured Louisiana State University.
  2. The new LSU is greater than the current flagship, not only in component parts, but also in reach, authority, responsibility, and opportunity. It no longer is a Baton Rouge institution, but a state institution.
  3. There is one LSU, one brand, manifested in different forms throughout the state.
  4. The strong leadership of the president and board, working together as a team, has been essential to the creation of this successful, integrated LSU.
  5. Component parts have been made to feel a part of the newly restructured LSU.
  6. The new LSU operates under consistent policies and procedures, with important and coordinated measures of independence and differentiation among campuses.
  7. Best performance of the newly realigned LSU rests on superior communications, vertically and horizontally, and is not left to chance or osmosis. It is intentional and planned. A corollary is the importance of communications throughout the state.
  8. During the transition period, members of the LSU family and its constituents, including the faculty, were critical in helping to form one LSU and overcoming concerns as they arose.

5. The administrative structure of the new LSU in 2015

LSU Board of Supervisors

The President provides:

  • The academic leadership to draw the new LSU together to meet the needs of the citizens of Louisiana.
  • The administrative leadership and direction for working together to advance all segments of the new LSU.
  • The face of the new LSU – through fund raising, contact with political leaders at the state and national levels, and relationships with the Southeastern Conference, national and international higher education organizations, alumni, and the public in general.

The job is challenging, demanding, and also exceptionally rewarding.

Reporting to the President are five executive vice presidents. Within the President’s office are:

  1. The Institutional Auditor
  2. The University Counsel
  3. Athletic Director

The University Counsel and the Institutional Auditor report to the President and have a dotted line reporting relationship to the Board. The President must work directly with both. The auditing function cannot report to the finance area. It must be independent. Auditors at all locations report to the head LSU auditor. Attorneys at all locations report to the University Counsel. The AD of LSU-A&M reports directly to the President; regional campus ADs report to their respective chancellors.

A. Senior Executive Vice President and Provost.

    1. Chancellor of LSU-Alexandria.
    2. Chancellor of LSU-Eunice.
    3. Chancellor of LSU-Shreveport.
    4. Chancellor of the Hebert Law Center.

All four chancellors manage their own personnel, with guidance as appropriate from the Senior Executive Vice President and Provost who will encourage working together to enhance service to Louisiana.

  1. Vice President for Academic Affairs.

This vice president meets regularly with regional campus chief academic officers, the academic officers of the Health Centers and the Pennington Center, and the deans and academic directors of the A&M campus, including law and agriculture.

  1. Vice President for Distance Learning, Technology, and Institutional Research.

This vice president works closely with the Vice President for Academic Affairs in providing distance learning and serves as the central hub for technology and consistent, high quality data production for LSU. A much needed data warehouse system has been implemented. Data analysis, data reports and institutional research are housed on the A&M campus.

  1. Vice President for Student Success and Enrollment Management.

This vice president convenes comparable administrators elsewhere within the university to ensure student activities and support functions are offered to the maximum.

  1. Vice President for Research and Service

This office coordinates and encourages research across sectors and provides opportunities for increasing activities in both research and service. An office for sponsored programs is housed in this office and coordinates the submission of grant proposals for all campuses for external funding.

B. Executive Vice President for Health Affairs.

    1. Vice President for the LSU Health Center at New Orleans.
    2. Vice President for the LSU Health Center at Shreveport.
    3. Vice President for the Pennington Biomedical Research Center.
    4. Vice President for Health Care Delivery (hospitals and clinics).

The Executive Vice President for Health Affairs oversees medical and graduate medical education and coordinates data collection, reporting, and accountability for all health care functions.

The chief academic officers of the Health Centers and the Pennington Center meet with the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

C. Executive Vice President for Agriculture.

  1. The current functions of the Ag Center are subsumed under the Executive Vice President.
  1. Dean of the College of Agriculture.

The dean meets with the Vice President of Academic Affairs along with other university academic officers.

D. Executive Vice President for External Relations.

  1. Vice President for Governmental Relations.

A successful government relations effort for LSU is a coordinated effort with the Legislature and the Governor, and with any advocacy efforts with national legislators. Advocacy by campuses is encouraged, but for unified and consolidated LSU operating and capital budget requests. A single government relations office administered by a Vice President for Government Relations under the Executive Vice President for External Relations has proven essential. Any campus government relations offices are clearly subordinate to the Executive Vice President and Vice President for Governmental Relations.

  1. Vice President for Communications.

The duties for this position include guidance for regional campuses on marketing, branding, and strategies. Divergence within a “family” of communications is acceptable, but the family is recognizable, and, with appropriate input, is controlled “from the top.”

E. Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer.

  1. Vice President for Budget.

Developing a budget for the newly structured LSU has not been significantly different from the budget process long in use before the realignment. A consolidated budget for LSU is developed with the campuses and submitted to the Governor and then Legislature. Determining tuition levels is also similar to former practices, with the need for differential rates for campuses and other units, including implementation of the GRAD Act and its potentially differing impact on tuition increases at each campus. Coordination in the budget process among the Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration, the Vice President for the Budget, and campus leaders has been essential.

  1. Vice President for Financial Management and Comptroller.
  2. Vice President for Human Resources.
  3. Vice President for Facilities.

Proposals for renovation and construction of facilities are coordinated and overseen much as they were prior to realignment.

The vice presidents for the above four divisions coordinate and convene comparable administrators elsewhere in the university, with appropriate standardization of university processes in financial management, human resources, and facilities management. Under the leadership of the Executive Vice President, models have been developed for appropriate sharing of talent, services and resources in these divisions throughout the university. Accounting and record keeping systems were aligned on all of the campuses. Prior good work in coordination of human resources and facilities management serves as a sound basis for further sharing.

6. Important issues under a new LSU structure: further elaboration

Strategic Planning

As soon as the structural changes have been agreed upon and a timetable for completion has been established, the initial phases of a strategic planning process are initiated by the new president. The strategic plan involves the leaders, and staff and faculty representatives of all LSU campuses. The planning process for the first strategic plan under the new structure is complex and includes components that are unique to each campus but that also provide a strategy for LSU as a whole. Although board members often play a limited role in the strategic planning process for their universities, this significant planning process benefits from some measure of board participation.

Accreditation

A goal for LSU and all of its campuses is a single, regional accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The transition from separate accreditation for each current LSU System institution to a single accreditation for LSU as a single integrated, multi-campus university is allowable under SACS rules. Such a practice is followed for Pennsylvania System University and its 22 campuses, and for Rutgers University and its three institutions.

The process entails notifying SACS of this intent and then following their processes for bringing this to fruition. Single, programmatic accreditation across the campuses and units of the university may or may not be desired depending on the extent of program integration at the upper division, graduate and professional levels for those programs and disciplines such as law, medicine, nursing, engineering, business, and others that require such.

Academic Coordination

LSU can benefit from instituting a single curriculum with a common course numbering system for all of its campuses. A single general education curriculum also is a logical and necessary component of a successful, flagship institution. This facilitates a synergistic, unified approach to LSU academic policy, enables and encourages collaboration among various LSU campus faculty, and facilitates student mobility (assuming students transferring to campuses with higher admission standards demonstrate that they meet those standards). There is a single application form for all campuses, with indicated preferences. Each campus retains its separate admissions requirements. Students need not re-apply when transferring between campuses if they meet all academic requirements. Considerable coordination is required to create and draw the above elements together.

Faculty Collaboration in Teaching, Research and Service

Joint research projects are to be encouraged, emanating from jointly developed research proposals to federal agencies and other funders of sponsored research. Faculty from the A&M campus – and where possible, the medical campuses and Pennington – are urged to work with each other and with faculty at other campuses.

Joint teaching opportunities among the campuses – including inter- and cross-disciplinary courses and programs – occur more frequently, particularly as encouraged by the academic leadership of LSU. Some of these joint opportunities occur live and in person, others through technology.

Distance education opportunities that use lead faculty from top departments and top programs from any and all of the LSU campuses are expanded. This proves an efficient way to develop academic programs in the new flagship model, ensure quality educational experiences for students, and contain costs.

All of this occurs under the direction of the Senior Executive Vice President and Provost and the Vice President for Academic Affairs, as coordinated with campus chief academic officers. The Board of Supervisors makes collaboration a priority by creating incentive grants for faculty research, joint teaching, and online collaboration. These small grants are seen as seed money to develop courses and to develop joint research proposals for external funding.

 

Tenure and Promotion Policies

In time, LSU moves toward a unified system of promotion and tenure. Within such a system, however, are tenure and promotions guidelines that are both LSU-wide ­and campus specific; criteria for individual academic departments and individual academic units can remain campus-specific. A decision is made whether to award tenure at the campus level only or university-wide.

The development of new guidelines will require cross-campus teams to work together under the direction of the provost. University guidelines are uniform at all campuses while recognizing that teaching is weighted more at the regional campuses. Tenure and promotion policies include guidelines and criteria for collaboration in teaching and research.

Under the Executive Vice President for Health Affairs

The structure under the Executive Vice President for Health Affairs is designed to maximize the resources and talents of the health care components in the new LSU. The vice presidents in charge of the academic medical centers in New Orleans and Shreveport enjoy the opportunity and encouragement to collaborate on medical care, medical education, professional development, service to the state medical community, and research focused on problems facing Louisianans. The research being pursued at Pennington and the academic medical centers benefit through closer collaboration.

The Vice President for Health Care Delivery coordinates the state hospital system and clinics in such a way as to provide the facilities and services for best service to the academic medical centers, their students, their residents, and the citizens of Louisiana. Partnerships, such as that with Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, prove to be beneficial for the state’s hospitals, as well as for residents and graduate medical education. The office of the Executive Vice President for Health Affairs also oversees and coordinates the collection, review, and best use of electronic health care data. Accountability encompasses not only financial and efficiency matters, but also reports on infection rates, pharmacy errors, mortality rates, and patient satisfaction. Both the hospitals and the physicians’ practice plan play a significant role in funding the academic medical centers and their faculty.

Efficiencies and improved operations – through cooperation and collaboration – are the focus. Shared services throughout the medical components produce significant savings and improved performance.

Finally, joint research and grant proposals from the vice presidents under the Executive Vice President for Health Affairs dramatically increase the chances for success.

Research Dollars and National Rankings

For ranking purposes, the National Science Foundation aggregates all research dollars of campuses and research centers for most integrated multi-campus flagship universities and for some university systems. Amounts for all of the campuses of the University of Michigan, Rutgers University, the University of Tennessee System and the LSU System, for example, are aggregated. However, amounts for the University of California System, the University System of Maryland, and the State University of New York and many other university systems, are not aggregated. Using the latest NSF numbers for 2009, the LSU System ranked 43rd among all public and private universities with $401 million in research expenditures, gaining the full effect of the federal and corporate-sponsored research and demonstration projects that were undertaken at all universities at that time, and at the medical schools and centers. LSU ranked 27th among all public institutions in the NSF report.

Other reports providing national research rankings disaggregate all campuses from their university systems. In one such report, “The Top American Research Universities” produced by The Center for Measuring University Performance at Arizona State University, LSU-A&M ranked 91st in total federal research dollar expenditures among all public and private institutions and 45th among public institutions in total research dollar expenditures.

The benefits of realigning the flagship go far beyond rankings, of course, to include collaboration, shared focus, and heightened accountability and productivity.

 

7. Tasks to be accomplished: Board of Supervisors’ timing and sequence for implementation

  1. Determine whether a single, multi-campus flagship university is best for the future of LSU.
  2. Obtain a formal statement from the university and system counsel as to the Board of Supervisors’ authority to internally realign LSU.
  3. Obtain a formal statement from SACS and any other accrediting groups on the implications of the realignment and the steps that must be taken. Given visits scheduled for 2013, as well as the final structure of the new LSU, this statement must be issued quickly.
  4. To begin the communication process, begin meetings of an executive officers group that draws together – virtually, for the moment – the pieces of the new LSU.
  5. Initiate meetings of comparable administrators from the separate units with peers at the flagship – CFOs, academic vice presidents, etc., and begin the communication process.
  6. Formally charge the president with creation of a realignment task force, tasked with development and oversight of plans to implement the required changes. The president, with counsel of the task force, appoints committees to handle the various components of the realignment, including the following.
    1. Assess all of the legal documentation required for realignment and set a plan for generating and approving policies.
    2. Create a public relations plan for communicating the end product and the process. Include in the plan focus groups and a web site for sharing and suggestions. The web site is kept current throughout the process.
    3. During this academic year, realign agriculture, Pennington, and law.
    4. In working out the details of all four divisions of health affairs – and reaching conclusions on public-private partnerships and reporting relationships (including with the health centers and Pennington) – the current Executive Vice President for Health Affairs can “virtually” and functionally play something like the future and final role of that position.
    5. Generate a plan over the next several years for coordinating human resources, accounting, software, data, and other shared services, as appropriate.
    6. Begin thinking toward ways in which the academic programs of the various units can be coordinated together more closely; begin the process of creating a common curriculum (at least for general education) and a common course numbering system.
    7. Begin implementation of recommendations from the executive, administrators’ and realignment groups with respect to government relations, fund-raising, and alumni relations, etc.
    8. With the intent of creating a uniform set of principles and guidelines, form a cross-campus team to review tenure and promotion.
    9. Launch strategic planning for the new LSU.

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