Stephen Moret has held key posts in Louisiana public policy for more than a decade — first as head of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and then as secretary of the Louisiana Department of Economic Development. Moret’s upcoming move to the LSU Foundation, the university’s principal fundraising arm, comes at a pivotal time for LSU and higher education across Louisiana. We wish Moret well in a job that promises plenty of challenges.

Moret is accustomed to hard jobs, so we have high hopes for him at LSU. He revitalized Baton Rouge’s chamber into a major regional economic player, and at DED, he’s implemented a range of reforms to make the agency more business-friendly. Economic development in Louisiana has often meant playing the underdog, competing with out-of-state institutions that have more resources and manpower. That’s pretty much what Moret has waiting for him at LSU, where the university’s private endowment ranks far behind that of the university’s peer institutions. At LSU and other state universities, the need for private support has become all the more critical as state government has slashed spending on higher education.

As Louisiana’s flagship public university, LSU has an even more urgent need for an endowment that will allow it to compete nationally — and, indeed, internationally. Higher education functions in a global marketplace today, and at research institutions such as LSU, excellence doesn’t come cheaply.

We sense that Moret grasps the importance of a well-funded LSU in advancing Louisiana’s prosperity. It’s a reality that’s been lost on Moret’s boss, Gov. Bobby Jindal, and the state lawmakers who have supported Jindal’s budgetary neglect of higher education.

Moret has his work cut out for him as he replaces G. Lee Griffin, who’s done yeoman’s service as interim president and CEO of the LSU Foundation since July 1, 2011. We commend Griffin on his service, and we wish Moret luck in his new job.