Caption: Interim Provost Matt Lee presents in front of students, colleagues, and donors
at the College of Engineering Distillation Columns ribbon cutting ceremony.
I find that the best way to stay tuned in to the current campus climate is to have
direct conversations with faculty, staff, and students from all corners of campus.
In one recent conversation, a longtime faculty colleague simply said, “Tell us what’s
going on. What are we doing? What’s the plan?”
President Tate has been on an intensive listening tour and is close to finishing what
I would characterize as a “visioning process.” This involves the distillation of the
broad scholarly strengths of the LSU campuses in preparation for a highly engaged
strategic planning process. Through this process, we will detail the specific focal
anchors of excellence for those broad strengths that we can collectively build upon.
For example, we will highlight the broad theme of coast, energy and environment with
a concentration on carbon capture, utilization and sequestration (CCUS).
We will continue to cultivate our strengths in research areas that preserve our heritage,
protect our future, and leverage the immense talent available among all of the LSU
institutions. A heretofore unprecedented level of collaboration will be necessary
to achieve the highest levels of excellence across focal scholarly areas. The existing
talent we have among our current faculty, staff and students is nothing short of extraordinary.
Marshalling this talent and getting laser focused on developing solutions to local,
state, national and global concerns while continuing to educate competent and ethical
citizens and civic leaders is the goal.
The operational aspect of the plan complements our intellectual aspirations with several
core elements. Execution is everything. We are going to prioritize doctoral education
and revise our funding model. We will build competitive funding packages that will
allow us to attract the best students. In a self-reinforcing cycle, we will hire top
talent because high-caliber scholars are attracted to programs with top-flight doctoral
students. To augment this goal, we have re-established research support and allocated
funds to support faculty efforts through the Office of Research & Economic Development.
We are also standing up funds in pursuit of another goal: National Cancer Institute
Moreover, as an institution, we are currently partnering with the American Council
on Education’s Internationalization Lab—a council which provides customized guidance
and insight to help universities achieve their internationalization goals. Great research
institutions are globally renowned; therefore, we will seek to infuse everything we
do with global perspectives. While these are examples of four primary operational
priorities for the campus, the wheels are in full motion on several other projects
as well. Examples include: improving four year graduation rates and the success of
transfer students, implementing a state-of-the-art student information system, and
enhancing our academic technology support framework.
So, what is the plan?
The plan is to elevate our level of distinction—we are strong, we are competitive
and we are well-respected. We have the opportunity to win on every front and this
will require working smarter and harder. Pursuing excellence through innovation requires
stamina, agility and focus. The R1 schools in contemporary public higher education
are in the equivalent of an arms race – for the best faculty, the best students, and
the most innovative scholarly work. We can win this race. To do so, we must always
strive for nothing less than ‘flagshipping,’ to use the nomenclature of President
Tate. This entails having a plan and aggressively pursuing it. We are in the nascent
phase of establishing that plan and I invite you all in the coming months to join
us as we seek to grow LSU to a new level of accomplishment and impact. Together, we
can make it happen. In the meantime, stay strong, stay well, and as always….Geaux
Interim Executive Vice President & Provost