LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander gave a mostly rosy update to faculty during the first Faculty Senate meeting of the academic year.

LSU will be filling at least 100 new faculty positions this school year. The university, after giving small raises to faculty the past two years, is gaining back some competitive ground it lost during several years without raises, he said.

On the budget front, LSU is coming off its “best fundraising year in a long time” at $73 million in outside contributions, King said, and enrollment will be up when official numbers are released later this month.

“This helps our budget. It helps our bottom line,” Alexander told the room of about three dozen faculty members on campus Thursday.

But the outlook presented by Alexander wasn’t entirely positive or certain.

He noted that the state faces a $1.2 billion budget shortfall in the coming year.

“We’re looking at a difficult, as usual, budget in the coming year,” Alexander said.

Alexander revealed that the group that has been debating how the state’s new $14 million WISE Fund will be distributed is expected to come to an agreement on a formula when it meets Monday.

The Legislature created the competitive Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy Fund this session to benefit higher education and workforce development but left it to workforce and education leaders to figure out how it will be divvied up among the state’s colleges and universities.

The Board of Regents will have the ultimate say over its distribution.

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