LSU Board to Consider Proposals to Boost Graduation Rates

The following is a news release from LSU...

BATON ROUGE, LA - In an attempt to boost graduation rates, the LSU Board of Supervisors next Friday (3/5) will consider two measures to improve student retention, including lowering the number of credit hours needed to earn a bachelor's degree.

Currently at LSU System campuses, liberal arts degrees require taking between 40 and 43 courses, totaling more than 120 credits; social science majors upwards of 128 credits and engineering degrees usually more than 130 credits.  Under a draft resolution up for board approval, individual campus chancellors and their staffs would be ordered to study whether bachelor's degree programs could standardize the number of credit hours for a BA degree at 120 hours.

The resolution also calls for the implementation of a student tracking and degree audit program that would monitor student progress toward graduation.  Utilizing online tracking and in-person advisor sessions, the tracking system would keep an eye on student progress during their first four semesters, notifying both students and advisors when students are not completing critical requirements and are not on track for graduation.  If approved by the Board, both measures could be in place for the fall, 2012 semester.

In addition, board members will be asked to implement the third year of tuition and fee increases already approved by the Legislature for the 2010-2011 academic year.  The three to five percent tuition and fee hikes are based on guidelines to be set up by the Louisiana Board of Regents.

A tentative agenda for the board meeting is attached.  The session is scheduled to get underway at 1 p.m. in the Board Meeting Room, 3810 West Lakeshore Drive, Baton Rouge.  Committee sessions will be followed by the regular board meeting.

The board also will be asked to approve a retirement incentive plan at LSU Shreveport to encourage voluntary retirement by eligible faculty and unclassified staff in an attempt to reduce expenses.  

In other action, board members will consider approving a proposed $9.6 million settlement of a lawsuit that grew from the construction of a cogeneration power plant at LSU A&M in Baton Rouge.  The plant, which went on line in late 2004, was supposed to save the university an estimated $1 million a year in utility costs.  University officials, however, contended in the lawsuit between LSU and Berhnard Mechanical Contractors of Lafayette that the gas-turbine generator actually cost the university more money to operate than expected.  Under terms of the settlement, the $9.6 million will be paid out with interest to Bernhard in six installments spread over the next three years.