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|Martin's style as chancellor|
In today's all-about-me culture, one can attend hundreds of speeches by public figures without ever hearing the names of their predecessors. It's as if every institution began with the arrival of the speaker.
Unless, of course, there's blame to be attached. Refreshingly, LSU's new chancellor went out of his way in recent speeches to praise the contributions of his predecessors in the job.
Chancellor Michael Martin noted that he came to LSU and found "an institution that is on the move, and is moving in the right direction." In large part, he said, the Flagship Agenda aimed at raising LSU's national profile is responsible for higher rankings and greater competitiveness among research institutions.
The Flagship Agenda, he hastened to note, wasn't his idea. He praised chancellors Mark Emmert and Sean O'Keefe before him for pushing the agenda for academic progress at LSU. Martin did acknowledge that he would do things differently, and one way in which he has differed from O'Keefe is the issue of membership on corporate boards. O'Keefe was criticized for accepting several corporate board memberships.
There are two sides to that issue. As the restrictions on conflicts of interest for outside board members have increased, college presidents and chancellors have been boosted in the market; they typically don't have a corporate conflict that someone directly involved in the business world would have. So university leaders are much in demand as outside directors of businesses.
O'Keefe's memberships included Battelle labs, a research institution with many federal contracts. It was arguably good for LSU to have its chancellor on Battelle's board.
Without criticizing O'Keefe or others who took corporate directorships, Martin said he would accept only a few positions related to his academic service. He is, for example, a board member of the association of land-grant institutions, of which LSU is a member.
"This job consumes about all the time I've got," Martin said, saying that he would be hard-pressed to find the time to travel more often that he already does.
Martin said LSU is committed to continuing to improve and be academically competitive with the nation's research colleges. But he warned, as his predecessors had before him, that continued funding is vital to keep LSU moving forward.
That will be his particular challenge in an era of global recession and, of particular importance in Louisiana, declining oil and gas prices.
-- The (Baton Rouge) Advocate
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