Louisiana State University

Louisiana State University
Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College
Louisiana State University (seal).png
Established 1860 [2]
Parent institution
LSU System
Academic affiliations
Endowment $788 million (2014 total of all LSU campuses) [3]
President F. King Alexander
Provost Richard Koubek
Academic staff
1,500 [4]
Administrative staff
5,000 [4]
Students 30,863 (Fall 2017) [5]
Undergraduates 25,446 [5]
Postgraduates 5,417 [5]
Location Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S.
30°24′52″N 91°10′42″W / 30°24′52″N 91°10′42″W / 30.4145; -91.1783
Campus Urban 2,000+ acres (8.1 km²)
Colors Purple and Gold [6]
Nickname Tigers & Lady Tigers
Sporting affiliations
Division I FBSSEC
Mascot Mike the Tiger
Website www.lsu.edu
Louisiana State University (logo).svg
Louisiana State University Memorial Tower

Louisiana State University (officially Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, commonly referred to as LSU) is a public coeducational university located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. [7] The university was founded in 1853 in what is now known as Pineville, Louisiana, under the name Louisiana State Seminary of Learning & Military Academy. The current LSU main campus was dedicated in 1926, consists of more than 250 buildings constructed in the style of Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, and occupies a 650-acre (2.6 km²) plateau on the banks of the Mississippi River.

LSU is the flagship institution of the Louisiana State University System. In 2017, the university enrolled over 25,000 undergraduate and over 5,000 graduate students in 14 schools and colleges. Several of LSU's graduate schools, such as the E.J. Ourso College of Business and the Paul M. Hebert Law Center, have received national recognition in their respective fields of study. 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. [8] [9]

LSU's athletics department fields teams in 21 varsity sports (9 men's, 12 women's), and is a member of the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) and the SEC (Southeastern Conference). The university is represented by its mascot, Mike the Tiger. [10]


19th century

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. [11] 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.

Downtown Baton Rouge Campus (1886-1925) Historical Marker

During the course of 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. Following the surrender of the Confederates at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, General Sherman donated two cannons to the institution. These cannons had been captured from Confederate forces after the close of the war and had been used during the initial firing upon Fort Sumter in April 1861. The cannons are still displayed in front of LSU's Military Science/Aerospace Studies Building. [12]

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. [13]

Louisiana State University Agricultural & Mechanical College was established by an act of the legislature, approved April 7, 1874, to carry out the United States Morrill Act of 1862, granting lands for this purpose. It temporarily opened in New Orleans, June 1, 1874, where it remained until it merged with Louisiana State University in 1877. This prompted the final name change for the university to the Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College. [14]

20th century

A panorama of the LSU campus in 1909

On April 30, 1926, the present LSU campus was formally dedicated, following the school's history at the federal garrison grounds (now the site of the state capitol) where it had been located since 1886. Prior to this, LSU utilized the quarters of the Institute for the Deaf, Mute, and Blind. Land for the present campus was purchased in 1918, construction started in 1922, and the move began in 1925; however, it was not until 1932 that the move was finally completed. The campus was originally designed for 3000 students, but was cut back due to budget problems. After some years of enrollment fluctuation, student numbers began a steady increase, new programs were added, curricula and faculty expanded, and a true state university emerged. [13]

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. [15]

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. [16] Paul M. Hebert, Dean of LSU's law school at the time, then assumed interim presidency in Smith's place.

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. [17]

Although some African-Americans students tried to enroll in LSU in 1946, the university did not admit African-Americans until the 1950s. In 1953 A. P. Tureaud, Jr. enrolled under court order, but his enrollment was cancelled when a higher court overturned the ruling. His case was ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Tureaud returned to LSU in 1956. A classroom building on the LSU campus is named for his father, the late A. P. Tureaud, Sr., a noted Civil Rights leader. The federal courts mandated full integration for LSU in 1964. The first African-American graduate of the LSU Law School was New Orleans's first African-American mayor, the late Ernest N. "Dutch" Morial. [18]

In 1969, mandatory ROTC for freshmen and sophomores was abolished; however, LSU continues to maintain Air Force and Army ROTC. In 1978, LSU was named a sea-grant college, the 13th university in the nation to be so designated. In 1992, the LSU Board of Supervisors approved the creation of the LSU Honors College. [19]

21st century

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, LSU accepted an additional 2,300 displaced students from the greater New Orleans area, such as Tulane University, Loyola University New Orleans, Xavier University of Louisiana, and University of New Orleans. In addition to accepting displaced students, university officials also took on the challenge of housing and managing many hurricane victims, converting the Pete Maravich Assembly Center into a fully functional field hospital. Around 3,000 LSU students volunteered during the months after Katrina, assisting with the administration of medical treatment to some 5,000 evacuees and screening another 45,000 for various diseases. [20]

In 2013, F. King Alexander was named President of Louisiana State University. [21]

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