The Advocate's recent story on LSU's athletic versus academic fundraising was a disappointing take on a very important issue. Rebekah Allen painted our university as an outlier among SEC universities. It is true that we are unique among our competitors ... just not for the reasons indicated in the article.
LSU is an outlier in the SEC, as one of only two universities in the conference with an athletic program that takes zero state or student dollars while also giving back to the academic side — in LSU’s case, providing academics with nearly $10 million annually. In fact, only 7 out of 230 athletic programs in the country are self-sufficient. This separation between LSU’s academic and athletic functions is due to the university’s decision in the late 1970s to make Athletics financially independent, allowing LSU to concentrate its assets in the classroom instead of subsidizing athletic programs.
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Conversely, it should also be noted that Louisiana is an outlier in that it leads the country in cutting state funding to higher education and is the only state in the country to require a two-thirds vote of both chambers of the Legislature to adjust tuition.
We are proud of our athletic program’s fundraising successes and accept the challenge to make our academic fundraising just as successful. Our academic performance is already nationally competitive, thanks to the efforts of our faculty and the impacts of our donors’ generous gifts.
The bottom line is this: fundraising is an integral part of LSU’s continued efforts to help our faculty and students change the world. Donations support our students’ pursuit of excellence, and help our faculty take their work from ideas to actual solutions for our state’s challenges. LSU produces exceptional graduates who carry little-to-no debt and make extremely competitive starting and midcareer salaries, and who go on to win Pulitzer Prizes and run Fortune 500 companies. Our faculty produce work that keeps us safe from hurricanes, improves medical treatment and disease prevention, and improves day-to-day life in our communities.
In other words, what happens at LSU benefits every citizen of Louisiana — and beyond. We hope The Advocate’s story, combined with the great things we are doing at LSU, will inspire our alumni and supporters to be even more generous toward our academic endeavors in the future.
F. King Alexander