Louisiana State University

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Group.png Louisiana State University  
(UniversitySourcewatch WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Louisiana State University (logo).svg
HeadquartersBaton Rouge, Louisiana, USA
Type• Flagship state university Land-grant
• Sea-grant
• Space-grant university
Other nameTigers & Lady Tigers
Expanded massively by governor Huey Pierce Long Jr. in 1930.

Louisiana State University (officially Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, commonly referred to as LSU) is a public land-grant research university in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.[1] The university was founded in 1853 in what is now known as Pineville, Louisiana, under the name Louisiana State Seminary of Learning & Military Academy.

LSU is the flagship school of the state of Louisiana, as well as the flagship institution of the Louisiana State University System, and is the most comprehensive university in Louisiana. In 2017, the university enrolled over 25,000 undergraduate and over 5,000 graduate students in 14 schools and colleges.

Designated as a land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant institution, LSU is also noted for its extensive research facilities, operating some 800 sponsored research projects funded by agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.[2][3]

Early History

Louisiana State University Agricultural & Mechanical College had its origin in several land grants made by the United States government in 1806, 1811, and 1827 for use as a seminary of learning. It was founded as a military academy and is still today steeped in military tradition, giving rise to the school's nickname "The Ole War Skule." In 1853, the Louisiana General Assembly established the Seminary of Learning of the State of Louisiana near Pineville in Rapides Parish in Central Louisiana. Modeled initially after Virginia Military Institute, the institution opened with five professors and nineteen cadets on January 2, 1860, with Colonel William Tecumseh Sherman as superintendent. The original location of the Old LSU Site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[4] On January 26, 1861, after only a year at the helm, Sherman resigned his position because Louisiana became the sixth state to secede from the Union. The school closed on June 30, 1861, with the start of the American Civil War.

During the war, the university reopened briefly in April 1863 but was closed once again with the invasion of the Red River Valley by the Union Army. The losses sustained by the institution during the Union occupation were heavy, and after 1863 the seminary remained closed for the remainder of the Civil War.

The seminary officially reopened its doors on October 2, 1865, only to be burned October 15, 1869. On November 1, 1869, the institution resumed its exercises in Baton Rouge, where it has since remained. In 1870, the name of the institution was officially changed to Louisiana State University.[5]

Newer History

In 1928, LSU was a small-time country school that generated little interest or attention in the state. Labeled a "third-rate" institution by the Association of State Universities, the school had only 1800 students, 168 faculty members, and an annual operating budget of $800,000. In 1930, Huey Pierce Long Jr., the governor, initiated a massive building program to expand the physical plant and add departments.

By 1936, LSU had the finest facilities in the South, a top-notch faculty of 394 professors, a new medical school, more than 6,000 students, and a winning football team. In only eight years, it had risen in size from 88th in the nation to 20th, and it was the 11th largest state university in the nation. Long financed these improvements by arranging for the state to purchase acreage from the old LSU campus, which adjoined the grounds of the new State Capitol building in downtown Baton Rouge. To the consternation of his critics, Long essentially diverted $9 million for LSU's expansion and increased the annual operating budget to $2.8 million.[6]

LSU was hit by scandal in 1939 when James Monroe Smith, appointed by Huey Long as president of LSU, was charged with embezzling a half-million dollars. In the ensuing investigation, at least twenty state officials were indicted. Two committed suicide as the scandal enveloped Governor Richard W. Leche, who received a 10-year federal prison sentence as a result of a kickback scheme.[7]

During World War II, LSU was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a Navy commission.[8]

Pennington Biomedical Research Center

The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is a health science-focused research center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It is part of the Louisiana State University System and conducts clinical, basic, and population science research. It is the largest academically-based nutrition research center in the world, with the greatest number of obesity researchers on faculty.[9]

In 1980, Baton Rouge oilman and philanthropist C. B. "Doc" Pennington and his wife, Irene, provided $125 million to fund construction of the nutritional research center. With a U.S. Department of Defense contract and funding from the Louisiana Public Facilities Authority, Governor Buddy Roemer proclaimed the official opening of the Center in 1988. Dr George A. Bray, a renowned obesity researcher, was recruited to be the first executive director of the center and under his leadership the center reached its present status in the scientific world.

Today, the Pennington Biomedical Research Center houses almost 600 employees, 14 research laboratories, 17 core service laboratories, an inpatient and outpatient clinic, two metabolic chambers, a research kitchen, an administrative area, more than $20 million in technologically advanced equipment, and a team of over 80 scientists and physicians with specialties such as molecular biology, genomics and proteomics, neuroanatomy, exercise physiology, biochemistry, psychology, endocrinology, biostatistics and electrophysiology.


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