Alena Allen is the incoming dean for the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center. (Photo courtesy of LSU)
Leaders from Southern University and LSU have signed the A&M Agenda, a commitment to work together over the next five years to leverage the two school’s resources for the betterment of the city, the state and the region.
LSU President William Tate IV and Southern President Dennis Shields were joined Tuesday by local and state leaders, including Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and Gov. John Bel Edwards, to tout the collaboration. The signing event was part of a week-long celebration of the partnership between the two universities that will culminate in the LSU vs. Southern football game Saturday.
Edwards remarked that partnerships such as the A&M Agenda are possible now that the state is no longer divesting from higher education.
“When you’re leading the nation in divestments in higher education, your university presidents are trying to figure out how to keep the lights on,” Edwards said. “If you get past that and you’re reliably every year supporting higher education, they can actually start to be visionary.”
The agenda outlines collaboration in three areas: partnership, opportunity and community. The partnership element will pursue shared opportunities in several areas, including research and economic development. Several possible partnerships outlined in the document include joint faculty appointments, sharing expertise and programs on Title IX and joint pursuit of grant funding.
The opportunity element will seek to expand opportunities for students, including updating and marketing a university agreement on cross-enrollment. It would mean students would be able to take classes at both institutions and establish a partnership for at least one more degree program between the universities within the next few years.
The agenda also seeks to leverage the resources of the two institutions for the betterment of the city, the surrounding parishes and the state, including community efforts such as anti-littering projects and addressing student hunger through the two agricultural centers.
Tate, LSU’s first Black president, reflected on what the partnership between the state’s largest university and the country’s only historically Black university system means for Black students, calling south Louisiana a Mecca for education for Black students.
“Today, outside of the state of Georgia in the city of Atlanta, there is no city with more African American students, matriculating undergraduates in this country,” Tate said.
Shields echoed Tate’s sentiment, adding that it is important for the two institutions operating in close proximity to move beyond competition.
“It’s fine to have a friendly competition,” Shields said. “But in this era, collaboration is essential to our role as stewards in this place.”
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