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Editorial: Who will step forward to be LSU’s friend?

Last Modified: Saturday, February 23, 2013 6:57 PM

How LSU is faring seems to depend on the day.

One day the state’s flagship university seems to be foundering, on the rocks.

Interim Chancellor William Jenkins told the schools Transition Advisory Team on Tuesday that LSU was “at the tipping point” of losing its coveted top-tier status in U.S. News & World Report’s annual ratings. The Advocate reported Jenkins expressed fear that peer universities are losing their high regard for LSU, which has suffered along with other state universities with massive funding cutbacks.

Sounds ominous.

In Lake Charles on Thursday, LSU representatives seemed more guarded in their outlook. The campus is trying to “streamline” its operations, they said, trying to meet budget challenging times with new strategies.

“The university is managing to be efficient in these very tough, frugal financial times,” said Provost Stuart R. Bell. “We can’t allow those budget reductions to devastate the university, so we’ll work hard to do the very best that we can within those circumstances.”

Sounds determined.

Speaking at that meeting, Laura Lindsay, dean of the College of Human Sciences and Education, said six units had been combined under her college, a change that reflected new thinking about scant resources. “That was part of prior budget cuts that we’ve had to address at the university — working together, this had made it a more powerful, a more exciting college.”

Sounds hopeful.

But Louisiana State University’s future will depend upon more than realignments, more than moxie. It will require state funding, state commitment. State funding for higher education has dropped by some $600 million since 2008, faculty positions have been cut, researchers have left, grants have gone.

So what does all that mean for LSU, a source of state pride and the premier destination for many of Louisiana’s top high school graduates? LSU first earned top-tier status in the U.S. News & World Report rankings in 2007, yet ranks behind most of its Southeastern Conference counterparts. Each year, it slips back a few notches.

Cutbacks have taxed the resourcefulness of LSU’s leadership. It’s likely some changes have been for the good, have protected taxpayer investment in LSU by trimming unnecessary programs and expenses.

But we Louisianians should miss those heady, pre-2008 days when all the buzz was about LSU’s growth and its future. That sort of talk is scarce these days; nowadays, LSU’s goal seems to center on stopping the bleeding, on holding on to diminishing resources.

The state’s elected leadership, in allocating state funding for LSU and all state campuses, is reflecting its priorities. How will those state leaders be remembered? Will they be recorded as friends of our campuses, which reflect what is best in our state? Or as something else?

Sounds uncertain.

• • •

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.

Posted By: mike the On: 2/25/2013

Title: maybe miles can be friend

maybe les miles can be friend of lsu.....guy was making close to 4 million and now he gets a raise for going 9-2 and will get over 5 million....maybe he can help lsu and give up some of the money to help good ole lsu.......and maybe they can build another 2 million dollar facility for mike the tigers girlfriend so mike can have a honey.........really do you realize the money lsu throws away on nonsense and now we have to feel sorry for these losers....get real pal

Posted By: robert On: 2/25/2013

Title: quit crying babies, cut administrator salaries

If you stop crying and cut some fat from the overbloated administrator salaries you will find so so much money.......Half of these administrators are not really needed anyway but are just there to protect other top administrators who don't want to do their job........lsu gets too much money already....Lsu is already not a top tier 1 university as of 2006 so who cares,,,,most in the state are too ignorant to know what a top tier is

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