Friday, June 21, 2024

Clark: Louisiana’s historic investment in higher education

by BIZ Magazine

During this past legislative session, the Louisiana Governor and Legislature were able to pass historic financial support for education across our state. The $159.2 million increase in funding for higher education was the largest state funding increase ever. This 12% boost in higher ed funding will allow for the further advancement and increased access to postsecondary education. 

For the second year in a row, the state funded salary increases for university faculty, resulting in a total 8.4% pay boost over the two years. This is helping us to better retain excellent faculty members across all disciplines. LSUS separately funded pay raises to all university staff employees. Together, these increases are helping to make us a more competitive employer. 

At LSU Shreveport, we were excited to receive additional funds to move forward with plans for a driving bridge connecting our Pilots Pointe Apartments with our campus ring road, as well as the replacement of exterior walls on our oldest campus building, the Science Building, and the Technology Building. While these projects were funded in the prior legislative session, rising costs made it necessary for us to delay the projects and request supplementary funding. The car bridge will greatly increase safety for our students while the new exterior walls will transform the appearance of the campus.

With lead support from Senator Barrow Peacock, we were also able to secure $1M in one-time funding for the support of LSUS. We plan to use the funds to build a small science annex building that will allow us to expand hands-on research opportunities for our biology students. This will make them even more competitive in their job searches or graduate school endeavors, especially for those students who qualify for the new guaranteed interview program with the LSU Health Shreveport School of Medicine. 

But how did the higher education funding help the most important asset at LSUS, our students? News of the funding allocated to the Louisiana TOPS program provided more peace of mind for parents and high school students pondering how they will pay for a college education. On our campus, a considerable number of students rely on the TOPS program to fund their education. With increasing talk of the value of higher education versus the cost, institutions need to be able to demonstrate to students that the education they receive will prepare them for their prospective future career and will not lead to personal or familial financial ruin. 

In short, LSU Shreveport is appreciative to our regional state legislators and Governor Edwards for working together on a bipartisan plan to increase funding support for education in our state. 

Larry Clark is chancellor of LSU Shreveport

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