What a year! 2020 was truly one for the history books, for reasons we don’t need to belabor here. However, the challenges of the Pandemic and the wave of social change that occurred over the summer provided many opportunities for reflection, innovation, and growth. While the pandemic and our response to it dominated our planning and day-to-day campus lives, 2020 was meaningful for LSUS in many other ways. We had record enrollment this spring and fall, and we are the fastest growing institution in Louisiana over the last 5 years. Our online MBA and Early Childhood Education programs have achieved national rankings, and our athletic programs have also garnered national attention for success on the field, court, diamond, and most importantly, in the classroom.
We have made great strides in enhancing campus life by revamping the Port restaurant, and adding the Stacks Smoothie and Tea bar in the library. We also welcomed students this fall to our fully owned and rebranded Pilots Pointe Apartment campus housing.
We completed a search that began in 2019 for our inaugural Assistant Provost for Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement, Dr. Kenna Franklin. Dr. Franklin has hit the ground running, leading our campus community’s response to issues related to the Black Lives Matter movement in the faculty, staff and student ranks. Dr. Franklin also led the LSUS celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, and provided input for a more inclusive campus holiday celebration. The 2021 calendar will be filled with events, initiatives, and community outreach efforts related to diversity and inclusion.
On the academic side, we have continued to make upgrades to our campus, all with the goal of preparing our students for success in the 21st century workforce. Our Cyber Collaboratory has become a major academic hub for our campus and our community. Our Idea Space, built on the principles of the Stanford Design Thinking process, adds another dimension to our on-campus instruction. In fact, Bill Burnett, co-creator of the Design Thinking process, is our fall 2020 Graduation keynote speaker. We have upgraded classrooms, and continued repairing and updating campus buildings and facilities in order to ensure a safe, welcoming learning environment.
Looking ahead, we know that 2021 will bring a new set of challenges and opportunities. The pandemic will still be with us, and we will continue to adapt our operations as necessary. We will also continue to enhance our facilities, with a new Business Intelligence Lab under construction, a state-of-the-art Performance Testing Facility coming to the HPE building, and state funding approved for a vehicular bridge connecting campus to Pilots Pointe.
We continue to be amazed at the resilience of our faculty, staff, and most of all our students, who remain diligent in their efforts despite the significant challenges facing all of us. If you know or happen to come across a student from LSUS, or any other college, give them your support. Students of all ages are facing a change in their learning environment like no other, and it’s incumbent upon us to continue to develop infrastructure to give them every chance at success. I urge all of you, when you are reflecting on 2020 and planning for 2021, to do so with balanced reflection and optimism. There are indeed two sides to every story, and every set of challenges presents opportunities for growth. It is my hope that when we look back at 2020, we will applaud the continued development of LSUS as an academic and community leader as a vital part of our story.
Larry Clark | Chancellor of LSU Shreveport