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Editorial: Changes could make LSU system more efficient, streamlined

Last Modified: Tuesday, November 06, 2012 6:22 PM

Nearly eclipsed by the anticipation of Saturday’s titanic battle in Tiger Stadium between LSU and Alabama’s football teams was the university’s announcement to begin its search for a president.

On top of that the LSU Board of Supervisors is considering recommendations to reorganize all of its assets: the main LSU campus in Baton Rouge, the LSU Law Center and LSU Agricultural Center, that sit adjacent to the main campus, academic campuses in Alexandria, Eunice and Shreveport, LSU Health Sciences Centers in New Orleans and Shreveport, 10 public hospitals and related outpatient clinics across the state.

The board voted unanimously last week to adopt six guiding principals regarding the realignment and reorganization:

• Create a single, statewide, globally competitive LSU that develops a national and international reputation. Any changes must focus on achieving measurable transformational improvements in all LSU programs and services. All of LSU should have a single accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the structure should facilitate national reporting of institutional data on a consolidated basis.

• Improve student experiences by implementing a common course numbering system and a single application form for all campuses; expanding distance education to take advantage of renowned faculty from all of the LSU locations; and implementing new academic and graduate programs to meet regional educational needs.

• Enhance collaborative faculty research opportunities; remove administrative barriers in grant applications; and encourage and enable innovative, entrepreneurial interdisciplinary activities.

• Eliminate or consolidate unnecessarily duplicate and/or competing administrative functions; and develop uniform policies where efficiencies and effectiveness of such changes can be documented not to impede flexibility or introduce unnecessary bureaucratic approvals.

• Create an administrative structure that is relatively smooth, flat and consistent and promotes interactions among units. Responsibility for academic and administrative decisions and authority for implementing such decisions should be placed at the lowest possible organizational level to achieve maximum productivity, flexibility and accountability.

• The transition to the “One LSU” model should be accomplished in an orderly and deliberative manner but as expeditiously as prudently possible.

Interim University President William L. Jenkins said universities are ‘‘in a period of profound tectonic change’’ and said the changes at LSU are ‘‘necessary.’’

“I understand,’’ he said, ‘‘fear of change better than most, but if we take that perspective, we’re doing a real disservice to the state of Louisiana. If you’re not thinking progress, if you’re not advancing, you’re regressing.”

Consultants from the Association of Governing Boards have recommended that LSU shift from having autonomous campuses to a consolidated ‘‘flagship system.’’

A dozen people who addressed the board requested that it do due diligence in weighing the pros and cons of how a reorganization would affect each of the university’s individual campuses.

That should be a consideration, but it shouldn’t stymie changes that will make LSU’s system more efficient and streamlined.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

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