STRATEGIC PLAN ITEMS
LSU institutional advancement: aggressively support and promote LSU’s development as a premier public research university and the state’s flagship institution
As a flagship research university, LSU drives the Baton Rouge area’s innovation economy. The region’s competitiveness and the future of LSU lie in its ability to be consistently identified as a top-tier research university. Past BRAC research identified that LSU would need over $100 million in additional operating funding and significant additional research infrastructure capacity to be among the top fifty public research universities in the U.S. Since then, significant cuts to higher education have increased that gap. To achieve this goal, the university and its allies should develop and promote the next phase of the National Flagship Agenda. The agenda, created in 2002, was a structured blueprint for improving LSU’s research and educational capabilities. It is essential that the university evaluate the elements of the agenda, ensure that the strategic direction laid out previously is viable and meaningful, and lay out an organizational and political action plan to achieve its goals. In 2012, LSU initiated a process to merge the LSU System President and LSU A&M Chancellor into a single position and to consolidate the divisions of the system. BRAC supports the consolidation to the extent that it focuses the resources of the state on the importance of LSU as a research enterprise, eliminates inefficiencies, improves the prioritization of centers such as PBRC, and simplifies management bureaucracies. LSU remains underfunded compared to its peer public research universities, and this remains a key challenge for the future.
Two-year community and technical college expansion through higher education reforms: support higher education reforms that increase two-year and technical college enrollment to better meet the state’s workforce demands
Today’s businesses continue to cite lack of access to a trained workforce as an obstacle to their growth and success. Louisiana’s community and technical college system is responsible for providing many of today’s workers with the technical skills needed to support the region’s businesses. Louisiana has traditionally had fewer students attending two-year institutions than competitor states, a fact that negatively impacts the strength of the region’s workforce. BRAC understands the need for employees with technical skills and appreciates the role of the two-year system in training those workers. The alignment of these two parties is critical to the area’s economic development. As more students opt to pursue two-year training opportunities, it is imperative that two-year institutions are strengthened and able to provide high-quality training to support regional workforce needs.
Higher education reforms: support higher education funding and reforms that help achieve our region’s economic goals
Louisiana’s higher education system faces numerous challenges, including a funding crisis that is likely to last for the next few years, increasingly competitive research environments, lower than desirable graduation rates, workforce demands not met by the system, and programmatic issues. These challenges hold back the economic viability of the state. Over the last several years, a statewide coalition of business and economic development groups has come together to support a response to these challenges. The BILD Coalition, has responded to these challenges by focusing on supporting the implementation of the performance funding formula, raising admissions standards at four-year schools, granting management boards autonomy over self-generated funding, and establishing centers of excellence, and eliminating duplicative programs where feasible in the LCTCS. The GRAD Act and GRAD Act “2.0” established many of these reforms. BRAC will continue to support legislative and funding priorities that enable these outcomes.
Self-generated revenue autonomy: pursue reforms that return control over tuition and fees to higher education management boards
The Public Affairs Research Council reported in 2007 that two states in the country—Louisiana and Florida—have ultimate control over tuition and fees residing with their state legislature. BRAC research has shown that LSU remains under-funded for self-generated revenues compared to its peer research universities, in part because of the difficult process to increase tuition and fees through the legislature. Additionally, tuition and fee amounts at the state’s two-year institutions are very low. A market-based approach to tuition and fees, where campuses and systems can price their products according to competition and demand, will drive performance improvements and efficiencies across the higher education system and allow research campuses such as LSU to better compete with their peer universities for talent and federal dollars. BRAC and the BILD Coalition helped create and pass the LA GRAD Act in 2010, which gave limited autonomy to universities over tuition and fees. BRAC supports providing full autonomy over tuition and fees to community and technical college and university system boards.
Performance funding formula: support a formula for funding postsecondary institutions that rewards student progress and completion, success of the research enterprise, and programmatic alignment with workforce needsPast formulae for higher education funding have focused in large part on student enrollment rather than on student progression through meaningful courses of study and the development of premier research capacity at certain four-year institutions. A more sophisticated formula that takes into account aspects and outcomes such as differential program cost, student progression, federal research activity, alignment with high-demand workforce needs, and increased production of degrees and certificates incentivizes higher education institutions to succeed in their individual role, scope, and mission. Such a formula assures the development of a robust postsecondary educational landscape from community and technical college certificates and degrees and four-year degrees, through graduate education and premier research activities.
Southern University renaissance: support strategies to assist SU achieving a renaissance in the post-higher education restructuring in Louisiana and to produce high-quality graduates in key academic programs
SU in Baton Rouge is the main campus of a prominent, historically black, land-grant university system. In a 2011 research report, BRAC showed that the economic value of SU on the Capital Region and the state rests on the ability of the institution to produce graduates of high academic quality who are prepared for a modern workforce. It is critical for SU to attract, retain, and graduate in-state and out-of-state students with the highest academic credentials. Furthermore, SU should leverage federal and private research funding for minority-serving institutions to provide opportunities for students to acquire cutting-edge knowledge and unique worldly experiences. By aggressively pursuing strategies to raise the academic preparedness of incoming students and to provide unique academic research experiences, SU would substantially increase its ability to produce high-quality graduates who become business leaders, entrepreneurs, professionals, scientists, and teachers.
Management autonomies: monitor the progress of management autonomies and performance outcomes of universities as directed in the LA GRAD Act and support policies to enhance management autonomies for campuses
As funding challenges continue to impact the budgets for higher education institutions, it is imperative that internal operations of higher education institutions be streamlined in areas such as purchasing, procurement, and facility management. Through the use of sound business operations, BRAC supports higher education institutions being given management autonomies that will lead to cost savings and efficiencies. Many of these autonomies were provided in the 2010 and 2011 legislative bills known as the LA GRAD Act.
Download » BRAC's 2013 Strategic Plan