LSU is widely regarded as Louisiana's premiere university.  Members of LSU’s Transition Advisory Team reported Monday that it's not one of the country’s most respected academic institutions.

Consultant Christel Slaughter's group is three days away from revealing its recommendations on the best way to consolidate LSU’s institutions under the main campus in Baton Rouge.

The goal of LSU2015 is to transform LSU into an elite academic institution.
Slaughter estimates it will take at least 200 million dollars to transform LSU into the type of globally competitive institution that attracts the world’s most prominent academics and researchers.

The advisory team says it will take that amount of money to attract more graduate students, expand undergraduate research, replace 200 faculty members lost over the past four years, and give remaining faculty a pay raise.

LSU System President King Alexander said raising that amount of money will be difficult. Many states, including Louisiana, are scaling back fiscal support for higher education.

I’d like to think somewhere in the middle is the reality. It will take $40 million alone, just for us to get our 220 faculty back. You can’t wish your way to national and international prominence.
- King Alexander, LSU System President

LSU particularly needs to increase the number of research dollars being generated. The university's research funds have been drying up in recent years. Many faculty members have left, taking their grant money with them.

Research expenditures are looked upon as one of the best ways to determine a university’s growth. Money spent on research usually indicates whether a university is experiencing academic growth, which translates to student achievement.

LSU currently spends about $160 million a year in federal grant money on research.  The Transition Advisory Team's Jim Firnberg says the goal should be between $250, and $350 million.

Firnberg said those numbers will be difficult to reach. Universities typically have to spend between $600,000 and $2 million to attract a high-quality researcher and support staff capable of bringing in millions of dollars in federal grants.

Firnberg said, “This is a very scary environment, and given the scarce resources, it is even scarier,”

Alexander says LSU can take advantage of an expanding Louisiana energy market and also the university’s health-science-related institutions in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Shreveport.

The team is expected to submit final recommendations to LSU’s Board of Supervisors on Friday.