Louisiana Higher Ed: Eco-sensors, cybersecurity and an apology

Your weekly update on the higher education news that didn’t make the front page 

By: - September 23, 2022 1:45 pm

LSU President William F. Tate issued an apology to student journalists after disparaging comments accusing them of being overly negative (LSU Photo)

The Louisiana Illuminator takes a weekly look at news from universities and colleges around the state. Have a tip or want to submit a Louisiana Higher Ed news item? Contact [email protected] 

FUTURE is here 

Louisiana Tech, LSU Shreveport and four partner universities have received a $6 million award from the National Science Foundation to create printable sensors that detect heavy metals and pesticides. 

The project, titled Facilitating Ubiquitous Technology Utilizing Resilient Eco-friendly (FUTURE) Sensors, will be led by Louisiana Tech’s Terri Murray, a biomedical engineering professor.

“We are excited to receive funding from the National Science Foundation to develop FUTURE Sensors,” Murray said. “These novel devices will transform the way we detect environmental pollutants in people and in our rivers and lakes.”

Other participating schools are Boise State University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

Cybersecurity partnership 

Grambling State University announced that it is partnering with IBM to establish a cybersecurity leadership center. 

Grambling is one of 20 historically black colleges and universities working with IBM to establish the leadership centers. 

“The Cybersecurity Leadership Centers we’re co-creating with Historically Black College and Universities epitomize our commitment to the Black community and STEM education. It also builds on our pledge to train 150,000 people in cybersecurity over three years,” Justina Nixon-Saintil with IBM said. 

IBM will provide access to several security-related products, including its Security’s Command Center that simulates cyberattacks to teach students about response techniques. 

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Presidential apology

LSU President William F. Tate issued an apology to student journalists after making disparaging comments about student newspaper coverage at a Board of Regents budget hearing Tuesday.

“Every student newspaper article, in all the systems, if you pick them up, 95% of the information is negative. The negative instinct is overwhelming in journalism, they cannot help themselves,” Tate said at Tuesday’s regents meeting. 

Tate initially defended his comments as an observation on the negativity bias, which the editorial board at LSU’s student paper, The Reveille, refuted. Faculty, students, alumni and journalists from around the state also condemned Tate’s words. 

Tate later relented, calling his comments unnecessary. 

“Please accept this letter as a formal apology for mentioning this paper during a recent budget hearing,” Tate said in a message to The Reveille. “I offer no excuse. It was unnecessary to mention this paper or your colleagues across Louisiana.” 

Budget review

At the annual Board of Regents budget hearing, presidents of all four university systems detailed their highs and lows of the previous fiscal year.

Each system was able to grant faculty pay raises to get salaries closer to the Southern Regional Education Board average. The Louisiana Community and Technical College System granted an average faculty pay raise of nearly 8%. The University of Louisiana System granted an average raise of almost 5%. The Southern University pay raise was 5%, and the LSU System increased pay 4%. The average dollar amount per system ranged from $3,105 to $3,917. 

Not everything was good news. UL System President Jim Henderson reported that a number of factors have strained campus budgets, including declining enrollment, inflation and the rising cost of utilities. 

Louisiana Tech’s power plant, which is powered by natural gas, saw a spike in costs of about $500,000 per month when fuel prices soared earlier this year, Henderson said. 

LCTCS President Monty Sullivan also lamented a lack of state funding for adult basic education and workforce training programs. 

“It’s time that we stopped talking about higher education in the context of 18 year olds and talk about higher education in the context of what is going to advance Louisiana,” Sullivan said. 

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Piper Hutchinson
Piper Hutchinson

Piper Hutchinson is a reporter for the Louisiana Illuminator. She has covered the Legislature and state government extensively for the LSU Manship News Service and The Reveille, where she was named editor in chief for summer 2022.

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