Louisiana Higher Ed: Biden calls for Pell grant increase, LSU expands cybersecurity education

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

By: - March 13, 2023 6:00 am
President Biden delivers remarks on mass shootings and gun legislation

(Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

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].

Biden calls for Pell grant increase 

President Joe Biden seeks to increase the annual amount of individual Pell grants by $820 as part of his fiscal year 2024 budget request to Congress. The proposed increase would bring the maximum annual award to $8,215. 

The federal government awards Pell grants to undergraduate students who exhibit exceptional financial need. Recipients are eligible for $20,000 of student loan forgiveness under Biden’s debt reduction plan. His administration identified 435,000 borrowers in Louisiana who were eligible for this relief based on their use of Pell grants. 

There are approximately 6.8 million Pell recipients nationwide. 

Biden’s budget proposal faces slim odds in Congress, where Republicans control the House of Representatives. 


LSU leans on students for cybersecurity

LSU is establishing a student-run security operations center to help protect state colleges and universities from cyber attacks. 

The center will be headquartered on the school’s flagship Baton Rouge campus, with a satellite at LSU-Shreveport. 

The security operations center (SOC) is the latest update in university President William Tate’s Scholarship First agenda, which has prioritized cybersecurity education. 

Establishing our own SOC with broad benefits for Louisiana higher education is directly in line with our service mission and a natural evolution of Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations designation by the National Security Agency,” Tate said in a press release. 

In the past few years, several campuses in Louisiana have been the target of cyber attacks, including LSU Eunice, Xavier University and, most recently, Southeastern Louisiana University

Dillard receives African-American culture grant 

Dillard University will receive a $700,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a collaboration with the Dillard University Ray Charles Program in African-American Material Culture. 

The grant will be used to support research, community programming and fellowships on the cultural, political and global impact of food in history. 

“One of our strategic focus areas, in being a ‘communiversity,’ is improving communities’ mental and physical health,” Dillard President Rochelle Ford said. “Teaching our students the relationship between food insecurity, food deserts and culture is critical to improving health.

UL Lafayette expands to build health sciences campus

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette acquired 19 acres adjacent to campus that it plans to use for its new health sciences facility. 

The land, previously the site of Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center, was purchased for $9 million. The acquisition brings the school closer to its goal of uniting its main campus, the nearby University Research Park and its athletics complex. 

The acquisition contains some medical office buildings. The university has begun renovations on one, the St. Francis Building, which will be used for upper level nursing classes in the fall. 

“We want to increase the number of nursing and health sciences students we enroll and graduate, expand degree programs, enhance existing partnerships with health providers and build others, create collaborations with professional schools and health systems and deepen relationships with biomedical and biopharmaceutical firms,” UL President Joseph Savoie said. “Acquiring this additional property puts those goals within reach.”


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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.