Education leaders say people are going to college differently now than ever before with more students are accessing online programs.
LSU Shreveport is using its online enrollment to grow the college.
Chancellor of LSUS, Larry Clark said a proposed merger with Louisiana Tech is not needed for several reasons including that LSUS is expanding thanks to its online students and not necessarily the state.
Louisiana public universities are operating with dramatically less funding from the state of Louisiana than ten years ago. State appropriated funding for LSUS went from $18 million in 2008 down to $8 million today. Chancellor Clark said to adapt, they created a business model to gain revenue that goes back into the college, which they’ve successfully done with online programs. Keeping their famous LSU brand is important to that.
“The ability to have LSU in our name is a huge magnet in attracting students from around the world,” Clark said.
He said their online programs have grown enrollment and the campus. They are gaining revenue to reinvest using tuition money to open new areas specifically for students. Including the Student Success Center that provides students with multiple resources to help them in class. It also focuses on helping first generation college students gain their degrees and connects them with Career Services inside the center. The new Student Organization Lounge was created for a multi-purpose area for student groups to work on projects with access to new technology features.
“We have an urban, metropolitian mission and it’s a university of opportunity. Rather to lower the expectation in the classroom we support the students to meet expectation in the classroom,” Clark said.
Another new investment goes directly to helping students who are struggling financially. A Food Pantry Center was opened for students to access nutritous meals.
“The Food Pantry was something that was really important for us to move towards to do. Students initiated it and we supported them in creating it. I wish I could tell you it’s not neccessary. It is,” Clark said.
Clark said he would rather see more state investment and continue collaborations with education and business entities to better LSUS than to abandon their identity with a merger.
“The merger alone won’t change the reality of the need of further investment on the LSUS campus,” Clark said.
Another area LSUS has invested in is upgrading the furniture inside classrooms and around the campus.
Representative Cedric Glover said he is not yet sure when his proposed merger bill will come up in the legislature.