By Brian Sibille | LSU Student
LSU Interim System President and Chancellor William "Bill" Jenkins Thursday sought to quell the chaos among the university community that has sprouted since the LSU Board of Supervisors voted to consider reorganization of the statewide system last month.
LSU community members expressed concern during the town hall-style meeting at the Baton Rouge campus over transparency, commitment to quality and staff support, among other issues.
Much of the dissatisfaction stemmed from the supervisors' quick and seemingly unannounced decision to consolidate the president and chancellor roles once they accepted a report from the Association of Governing Boards in November.
The report suggested numerous possibilities for consolidation of the LSU System with the Baton Rouge campus as its head.
LSU professor and Faculty Senate President Kevin Cope brought attention to a perceived lack of publicity and inclusion before the vote. But Jenkins was quick to reassure those concerned that haste is not a priority, predicting the process would not be entering its final stages until at least 18 months in.
He called the suspicion that the board would vote on overall consolidation at a Nov. 2 emergency meeting a misinterpretation, noting the supervisors voted only to continue consideration of AGB's report.
Jenkins repeatedly has called the process a necessary "tectonic change" because the fate of higher education in Louisiana is uncertain while headed in a less than promising direction.
He recognized the Legislature's lack of support in recent years, as the Baton Rouge campus' main source of income has shifted to more than 60 percent tuition-based.
"Our state is in a precarious financial situation in many ways," he said. "The board came together and decided it was time for us to look at, redesign and perhaps restructure, realign LSU, with a principle in place that we'll have one LSU."
Jenkins promised inclusion and transparency, saying the process would be anything but exclusive.
A transition advisory team, referred to as TAT, will lead the process of recommending the best solutions to the board of supervisors, but Jenkins said many committees, subcommittees and teams will be formed to include members from every corner of the university.
LSU Student Government President Taylor Cox, one of few students in attendance, expressed concern not only for the student experience at LSU but the student voice. A team of students will be among the many included, Jenkins said.