Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Taylor: How LSUS is delivering value to NWLA

by BIZ Magazine

According to a national Gallup poll released in July of this year, public confidence in higher education has fallen. Only 17% of the respondents have “a great deal” of confidence and just 19% indicate “quite a lot” of confidence in what colleges and universities have to offer. These percentages follow a downward trend in similar surveys over the last two decades.

Has the value of a college education declined, or just the perception of higher education institutions?

As the Chief Academic Officer at LSU Shreveport, Shreveport-Bossier’s only public four-year university, I believe that LSUS is delivering value to its students, its graduates, and the northwest Louisiana community.

Our role is not just to educate, but to change lives, to offer transformational experiences that can move Louisiana residents from poverty to possibility. We provide access to the kind of life-changing work students can do as citizens, as doctors, as scientists, as contributors to non-profits, businesses, and schools. Our campus has constructed learning spaces so that students can do immersive, cutting -edge training, like our biology department’s use of video-game technology to show cell structures using holograms and 3D imagery.  We understand that newer technology helps our students prepare for the future that as yet can only be imagined.

These efforts to serve our community by helping students use the value of their credentials as assets are literally paying off. LSUS ranked the highest in the state and among the nation’s best in the second annual Economic Mobility Index, which measures how effectively institutions help low-income students improve their socioeconomic level. The report was released by the organization Third Way, a national think tank that believes higher education is critical to securing a middle-class lifestyle.

LSUS is doing its part to help achieve the Louisiana Board of Regents’ Master Plan, which calls for 60% of all working-age adults (ages 25-64) in the state to hold a degree or high-value credential by 2030. A significant portion of our students are non-traditional, that is they are students who didn’t begin their college journey with LSUS directly out of high school. We offer flexibility with programs that can be taken at night or online to meet the needs of students who already have careers and families.

We are redoubling our efforts to ensure we offer value to our graduates, especially in terms of providing flexible and transferable skills for a lifetime of careers and professions that an ever-changing workplace will present. While our online master’s level programs like our MBA and various master’s degrees in education are wildly popular, we’re striving to grow our face-to-face, undergraduate student population and create a vibrant, on-campus setting right here in Shreveport. All of our undergraduate degrees begin with broad-based general education courses, so that we can ensure that students write well, do research to support that writing, and have a broad understanding in foundational science, mathematics, and humanities to pursue any career. We believe that the investments made in our campus (like the Collaboratory and the upcoming Business Engagement Center) will attract these types of students.

So, is higher education good for the community? I say a loud and resounding yes! We help citizens change their lives, and we help train them so that they themselves can change the lives of others. 

Dr. Helen Taylor, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at LSUS

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