On Monday, July 15, four task force groups of the Transition Advisory Team met in Baton Rouge. The task force groups are part of the LSU 2015 process for the reorganization of LSU. The meetings were streamed live via the Internet for those who could not attend and meeting archives are available at www.lsu.edu/tat.
The Commercialization and Technology Transfer Task Force met at the LSU AgCenter from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The group is focusing on removing barriers, stimulating discovery and increasing deal flow. By-laws of the LSU Board of Supervisors, external reports, pre-angel capital and research of communication best practices are being reviewed.
The task force opened with a review of the process and the expectations that were given to the group as part of the LSU2015 process. The group’s meeting focused on a draft report review and edits to the report that will be given to the Transition Advisory Team and ultimately to the LSU Board of Supervisors.
“I think we have a fairly concise recommendation … the substance of the report, I personally think it captures much of what we talked about,” said Bill Silvia, co-chair of the Operations and Technology Sub-Committee and president and CEO of the Pennington Medical Foundation.
Christel Slaughter of SSA consultants added that the report is a very important document coming from the task force group and their final meeting was held to make sure the report will convey transformational input in the area of commercialization and technology transfer to the Board of Supervisors.
The group discussed the findings of their report and outlined areas that needed to be fleshed out further and other areas that could be tightened up. The group talked about root causes, problems and opportunities regarding technology transfer across LSU.
One of the issues brought up is the current decentralized organization. The group mentioned LSU’s current decentralized organization and that their recommendations are just a first step in the process.
“None of this can be implemented tomorrow because there is further work to do,” said Silvia.
A major area of discussion focused on the possible recommendation of developing a research foundation to function as the group has found successful for a number of other universities and has deemed a “best practice” for commercialization and technology transfer.
Lee Griffin, co-chair of the Finance and Revenue Sub-Committee and president and CEO of the LSU Foundation, said that in order to be successful, LSU’s research areas should have leadership commitment across LSU.
“We’ve got to do something to get people to recognize we are one LSU,” Griffin said.
A research foundation could help with accountability, leadership, flexibility and shared services for all of LSU. While other universities have used a research foundation, the group did caution that LSU needs to develop its own model and that what works for someone else is not necessarily the perfect model for LSU.
In discussing potential revenues from research discoveries, Joe Lovett, managing general partner at the Louisiana Emerging Technology Center, reminded the group that nothing happens if research stays in the lab.
“That’s the emphasis, get it out the door and see what happens,” he said.
The meeting also touched on the role of the president and the board in prioritizing commercialization and technology transfer in helping to foster a cultural change; the options for commercialization as part of the tenure process; and the need to bring in more grants and more research expenditures.
The group was left with homework to reflect on regarding next steps on implementing their recommendations and potential financial investment needed for commercialization and technology transfer.
A joint meeting of the Administrative Services, Technology and Streamlining Task Forces, along with the Procurement sub-group, met from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the Capital Chamber Room of the Union.
The Administrative Services Task Force is focusing on improving efficiency, identifying barriers and adopting service structures through analysis of internal university processes, external regulatory impediments, insurance and risk management, employee benefits and LA GRAD Act 2.0.
The Technology Task Force is looking at the changing culture, promoting efficiency and encouraging innovation. Academic research, administration and leveraging data to drive innovation are being reviewed.
The Streamlining Task Force is investigating paper flow, process, authority and accountability including the by-laws of the Board of Supervisors, presidential memorandums and campus policy statements.
Marie Frank, executive director of procurement services and property management at LSU, presented a review of the research findings of the Procurement sub-group, particularly how the process of administrational procurement has moved from a “transactional model to a strategic one.”
“Louisiana laws governing procurement are not geared towards institutions of higher education,” she said. “They aren’t geared towards populations that are constantly changing like student bodies, or towards researchers that are using grants and multiple sources of funding.”
The Procurement sub-group issued three recommendations to the task force: the adoption of the pilot procurement code, increased focus online procurement processes and an increased focus on strategic sourcing and spending analytics.
The pilot code, per Frank, will offer freedom from unnecessary bureaucratic processes, and offer LSU institutions the ability to use every method for determining the lowest cost and best value for purchases. It would also allow for certain items to be pursued through a reverse auction method, in which suppliers would bid for the contract to provide it.
Frank said that a conservative estimate on the savings possible under the pilot code for LSU System campuses was approximately $23.93 million over a five year period.
“What is abundantly clear is that we have got to make some changes in this administrative area,” said Slaughter, “because there is just so much promise in it with regards to savings.”
Task Forces have been formed to focus on specific areas of priority in the realignment process. During these meetings, testimony is provided by national and local subject matter experts. Reports and findings are discussed and input from the public is heard. Information from the Task Force meetings will become part of a final report to be submitted to LSU’s Transition Advisory Team and ultimately to the LSU Board of Supervisors.
Agendas for this and all LSU2015 sub-committee and task force group meetings can be found at http://www.lsu.edu/lsu2015/events/. The names of Transition Advisory Team Task Force Group members are available at http://www.lsu.edu/lsu2015/transition-advisory-team-sub-committees/task-force-groups/.
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.