November 30, 2007

Members of the Dean’s Advisory Council (DAC) have stepped up efforts to help the College of Engineering (CoE) reach out to more alumni and encourage interest in the FOREVER LSU Campaign. Recently, two alumni receptions were held in Baton Rouge. On September 14, DAC member Don McCollister gathered employees of Turner Industries Group, L.L.C. On October 9, Art Favre, Chair of the Construction Management/Industrial Engineering (CMIE) Department Steering Committee and DAC member hosted an event for Performance Contractors, Inc. employees. Both gatherings were well attended and sparked interest in College activities and the FOREVER LSU Campaign.

To improve the quality of the College’s graduates the Dean Zaki Bassiouni stressed initiatives to impart students with critical skills. Tools to accomplish that goal include: the Communication CxC Studio, the new Safety Training and Demonstration Lab and a Critical Thinking Initiative. Bassiouni stated, “We want to be known as the college where faculty teach students HOW to think, not just WHAT to think.”

“In order to improve the substance and image of the College, we are supporting our mission by focusing on teaching, research, and engagement, and by following important initiatives to promote student recruitment and retention, including establishing new scholarships and enhancing our diversity initiatives,” said Bassiouni.

Don McCollister, President and Chief Operating Officer, Turner Industries Construction Division, said “LSU CM Department is a main source of young professional employees. We support the CM Department, who, in turn helps us. They listen to us and change curriculum to benefit us. Not many schools do that.”

Dean Bassiouni spoke of efforts to promote faculty recruitment and retention through such initiatives as the Oil and Gas Initiative, Fund for Innovation in Engineering Research, and the College Initiatives Professorships. In addition, while featuring recent upgrades to facilities and laboratories, the Dean showcased plans to upgrade and renovate facilities including Patrick F. Taylor Hall.

Cathy Dodge, CoE Director of Development, pinpointed immediate needs and how alumni can have an impact for the College by explaining the importance of the FOREVER LSU Campaign. “The College of Engineering has a $100 million goal for 2010, that includes $50 million in endowed support to maintain academic excellence (scholarships, fellowships, professorships, chairs) and $50 million in non-endowed support to make transformational changes (Patrick F. Taylor Hall renovation, new ChE building, lab upgrades, new programs and initiatives). Currently, we have achieved $36.7 million toward our goal. This is a donor-driven campaign and through extensive outreach to our alumni, we hope to raise the overall annual giving (11% participation rate), transform LSU, and make a difference for your alma mater,” said Dodge.

Roland Toups, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Turner Industries Group, L.L.C., stated “LSU is our school and means so much to all of us. We must start with education, because it is the driver to get Louisiana back on track. If we have the ability, then we should step up to the plate and give to LSU.”

Art Favre, Owner and President of Performance Contractors, Inc., explained “LSU is woefully behind its peer institutions for alumni support.  The benefits derived from athletic department support are obvious with a number one football ranking, but academic support has not been as good.  As LSU alumni, we have all benefited significantly since we graduated, because LSU made a difference in our career opportunities. Although you might be young in your career, think back on what you got out of LSU and fond memories from that time, and get in the habit of making an annual contribution. The University needs long-term commitments from its alumni.”

Article by Mimi LaValle, LSU College of Engineering, 225-578-5706, mlavall@lsu.edu

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