EUNICE — LSU at Eunice’s incoming chancellor, Kimberly Russell, told a crowd in the university’s conference center Monday that her immediate priorities are expanding the school’s visibility, access and enrollment.
The public appearance and reception for Russell was her first since accepting the job offer, which becomes effective Sept. 1.
Although Russell in her address to the crowd did not include specific plans for attracting more students to LSU-E, she said the university is “a special place which is on the threshold of a new era.”
Russell said she felt it might be time for a career change in 2013 when her daughter graduated from high school and left Tyler, Texas, for Baylor University.
LSU President F. King Alexander, who introduced Russell, said in an interview that Russell’s ability as a fundraiser and an effective administrator for 16 years at Tyler Junior College set her apart from the other candidates for the LSU-E position.
“Her strength at that university was in promoting the school and fundraising. During the time she was (at Tyler Junior College), the enrollment of the school also more than doubled.
“Funding (at Tyler) also increased significantly while she was there,” Alexander said.
LSU-E Student Government Association president Allison Briscoe, a sophomore pre-veterinary student from Richard, said she is impressed with Russell’s enthusiasm.
“You look into her face and she looks very excited and open to everything. I think, with her, (LSU-E) should have a very bright future.”
Russell was chosen following a nationwide search that began after William Nunez announced his retirement after 10 years as chancellor.
Alexander said Russell will have a base salary of $205,000 annually and use of the chancellor’s residence located just behind the school’s athletic complex.
During an interview, Russell said her most important goal is increasing LSU-E’s current enrollment of about 2,800.
“I don’t have a figure in mind yet. As I make that transition (from Tyler to Eunice) here, I will be able to come up with a number and have an enrollment management plan of where we want to be and create target goals,” she said.
Russell said LSU-E’s presence can be enhanced by creating academic programs that respond to the needs of business and industry.
LSU-E, a two-year university that offers associate degree programs, can also increase its course offerings by reaching out to what she called “university partners” in order to strengthen the LSU-E transfer programs.
LSU-E is affiliated with the LSU system and can offer research opportunities that include the LSU Agricultural Center, she said.
Russell said her fundraising efforts at LSU-E will include contacting alumni.
LSU-E has about $2.5 million in its foundation program.
“I spent the last 16 years (at Tyler) engaging with the community and doing a lot of different funding. I would like to do something similar to that (in Eunice). I would like to reach out to alumni and have them become re-engaged,” she said.
Russell said at present she doesn’t expect projected higher education cuts to affect LSU-E.
“Funding (for 2015-16) should be about level compared to last year,” she said.
Between now and Sept. 1, Russell said, she expects to transition gradually between Eunice and Tyler.
During the interim, LSU-E vice chancellor Renee Robichaux will serve as the school’s interim chancellor.