The fourth meeting of the Student Experience Sub-Committee of LSU’s Transition Advisory Team took place on Friday, May 3, on the campus of LSU Shreveport. The meeting was streamed live via the Internet for those who could not attend and meeting archives are available at www.lsu.edu/tat.
Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, co-chair of the Student Experience Sub-Committee, welcomed the group and stressed that the meeting was brought to Shreveport to ensure that the LSU2015 is an inclusive process that includes input from all the campuses.
Paul Sisson, interim chancellor for LSUS, provided a discussion of student experience at LSUS and his thoughts on the LSU2015 process.
“LSU2015 in many ways has a lot of promise, and we’re very excited about a lot of parts of it,” he said.
Sisson said that LSUS has a head start on the process in a number of ways, including the LSUS Commitment Plan, which provides expanded educational opportunities to the northern Louisiana region. The commitment plan outlines innovative collaboration between LSUS and LSU in Baton Rouge.
Sisson sees the upside of LSU2015 as an opportunity to offer the 400,000-plus people in the region with more educational resources. His biggest concern with the process if there would be an impact on the athletic program offered at LSUS.
“We want to maintain all the parts of the campus culture that makes the campus something that is providing everything to all the students,” said Sisson, who cited the importance of their successful athletic program to the campus culture.
John Vassar, provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs at LSUS, provided an overview of LSUS @ccelerated.
LSUS @ccelerated is a new delivery method for offering classes in a more flexible format for students. Instead of offering a fall and spring comprised of 16-week semesters, this new option allows students to take classes during the fall and spring semesters in an 8-week accelerated format. LSU Shreveport will be offering about 10 percent of its classes in this new format in the fall 2013.
“It allows greater flexibility to our students to set up courses the way they want to,” he said.
For students who are focused on completing their degrees as rapidly as possible, an accelerated format will allow them to finish more quickly. This new format is also beneficial for a student who may be struggling in a class during the first eight-week term; he or she will be able to drop that class and pick up another one when the second eight-week term begins later in the semester. Such possibilities allow a greater flexibility for students who are required to be enrolled full time at 12 hours a semester to maintain their financial aid.
“The primary driving force to all of this is providing more opportunity to our students,” Vassar said.
Vassar addressed concerns over the ability of students to transfer who are involved in the @cclerated program. No matter if a student takes the course over the 16-week period, the eight-week-period or the more condensed summer term, the courses still count as three hours of credit.
A three-hour course given in an eight-week period is equivalent to a three-hour course given over a 16-week period. The students spend the same amount of total time in the classroom in either format, but the eight-week course is delivered in a condensed timeframe.
Vassar also talked about the relationship that LSUS has with community colleges in the Shreveport area.
“We’ve been working closely with them,” said Vassar, who added that they are exploring the opportunity to have Bossier Parish Community College offer classes on the LSUS campus. “It’s very important to our success – our relationship with them.”
Dr. Mark Platt, assistant dean for student affairs at the LSU Health Sciences Center Shreveport, provided an overview to the sub-committee of their student population.
Platt spoke about the feeling that students are having about the uncertain future in state higher education and other concerns of faculty of the health sciences center.
Platt asked the group how they feel the medical school fits into the LSU2015 model.
Christel Slaughter of SSA Consultants said that the Research and Discovery Sub-Committee sees enormous untapped potential with working together and breaking down barriers that haven’t made collaboration as easy in the past.
“We’ve seen a whole wide range of possibilities,” Slaughter said.
Regarding technology, Platt told the group that the first two years of materials are available online and that they treat their students as adult learners, allowing them to review the material online from home.
There are opportunities for LSUS and the LSU HSC Shreveport to work together and Platt said that there are some areas where collaboration is taking place. He said that he hopes to see more in the areas of biomedical engineering and animation. Platt added that he will research some other models of collaboration for medical schools across the country and provide that information to the sub-committee.
For improvements that he would like to see at the LSU HSC Shreveport, Platt said there is a need for more student services and more career services, and that better relaxation areas would be beneficial to the student population.
After lunch, the sub-committee heard a student discussion of student experience from student sub-committee members and visiting students from LSUS.
“LSU is a great university because of the great experience,” said Cody King, LSUS student body president. “What LSUS lacks is keeping students on campus.”
King said the number one priority for LSUS should be for finding ways to keep students on campus and finding activities to keep them engaged on campus. Some suggestions he provided included dormitories, a wellness center and hosting an on-campus concert.
“Putting an investment into LSUS … is a step in the right direction,” King said.
A wellness center, in particular, would provide another opportunity to partner with the health sciences center to provide health care to LSUS students and opportunities for health sciences center students to gain experience.
King said that if everything goes through with the LSU2015 plan and all the campuses become “one LSU” with common courses, similar offerings and one LSU diploma, then the reason a student will choose a particular campus will be the student experience provided.
The student panel also discussed better communication and marketing efforts to inform the student body of events and activities taking place on campus; service-learning; and internship opportunities.
“If you look at all the universities around the country that are doing well, they’ve invested in the student experience,” said Carroll Suggs, co-chair of the Student Experience Sub-Committee.
Lisa Johnson, president/CEO of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce, and David “Rocky” Rockett, executive director/president of the Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation, spoke to the sub-committee about workforce development in the Shreveport-Bossier Region.
Johnson said one of their top challenges is providing educational opportunities for the business and industry that are locating in the Shreveport-Bossier Region. Some of the business workforce needs in the area include IT and technology, engineers, and digital media, among others.
“Employers are willing to take on retraining expenses … to train who they need,” Rockett said.
Regarding college graduates, Rockett said employers are looking for “someone with a little fire in their belly” and are interested in collaborative employees who are willing to adapt.
The Student Experience Sub-committee first met on Feb. 19 on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge and then convened on March 14 on the campus of the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. Its third meeting was April 3 at LSU.
The sub-committee is focusing on access and opportunity, support for student success to improve graduation rates as well as workforce and career opportunities, service-learning, student financial aid and improving student recruitment and enrollment efforts. Any interested students are encouraged to attend or watch via live streaming video. Input and feedback to the Student Experience Sub-committee can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Agendas for this and all LSU2015 sub-committee and task force group meetings can be found at http://sites01.lsu.edu/wp/lsu2015/events/. The names of Transition Advisory Team Sub-Committee members are available at http://sites01.lsu.edu/wp/lsu2015/transition-advisory-team-sub-committees/sub-committees/.
More information on LSU’s reorganization process can be found at http://www.lsu.edu/LSU2015. Information on the site includes meeting schedules, minutes and video and presentations from past meetings. Also, visit LSU’s reorganization Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/LSU2015transition.