President's Address

I was in a meeting recently with an outside consulting group, and the audience was comprised of faculty and staff. As the meeting went on and every question from the consulting group began with, “As faculty, what do you think…,” I realized there was no interest in anything staff had to contribute. For the rest of the meeting, I willed myself to somehow transform into the Incredible Hulk and throttle each group member while yelling “STAFF” over and over. Maybe that would finally get it into their heads that staff exist on higher education campuses.

In many ways, this is a message I wish I had written in my first newsletter and not my second to last. And I know the audience for this newsletter is almost exclusively staff, so I’m preaching to the choir, but maybe this will be something you can share with someone as a handy reminder or a quasi-pep talk.

To put it plainly, higher ed institutions do not exist without staff. We’re not a necessary evil, we’re not third in the pecking order, we’re not an afterthought. Staff educate our students, make sure we get paid on time, tell LSU’s story to the world, keep our campus and buildings clean, recruit students and retain them, help our faculty bring in research dollars, feed our university community—let me know if I’m going too fast—balance budgets and get the bills paid, counsel our students and employees, equip and prepare our athletic teams, maintain our campus infrastructure and plan for its future, protect and serve our LSU community 24/7, ensure our students have housing, maintain the history of our university, and…they work in Parking. (I love you, PTS).

Tell me which one of those responsibilities we can afford to live without.

I’m only scratching the surface in terms of the roles staff play on our campus. And I haven’t even mentioned that they do all of this while, in some cases, starting and raising a family, getting their degrees, working one or more additional jobs, struggling with mental health issues, being the sole provider, dealing with divorce, etc.

Across higher education, staff turnover continues to increase from year to year. At LSU, the average staff member stays here 2.4 years. This has got to improve for us to be successful as a university. To give you just one reason why this issue must be fixed, think of the times you’ve lost a member of staff in your respective unit and the amount of upheaval and strain it can cause until that role is filled and properly trained. Would you want to go through that every couple of years?

In short, I want everyone to think of LSU as a three-legged stool, with each leg being represented by staff, faculty, and students, respectively. Remove any one of those legs and guess where you end up? Flat on your…bum.

Mr. Eli Jackson

In contrast to the average length of time a staff member stays at LSU, I want to tell you about Eli Jackson, who has worked at LSU for 60 years and is a master locksmith in Residential Life. Notice I didn’t say he’s retiring after 60 years. That’s because he’s not and has no plans to do so. I was honored to be part of the event last week that was held in recognition of his service. With the help of LSU Athletics, I presented him with a personalized LSU Football jersey with the number 60 on it on behalf of Staff Senate in recognition of his years of service. In my brief remarks, I joked that when I first heard he had worked at LSU for 60 years, my first response was, “On purpose?” But I added that while we celebrate achievements in basketball, gymnastics, and volleyball with banners in the PMAC, I wish there was a spot on campus to hang banners in recognition of staff achievement. If anyone ever deserved it, it’s Mr. Eli Jackson. Here’s to another 60.

Staff Appreciation Week

Where do I start? You’ll see brief recaps and photos for each day of Staff Appreciation Week elsewhere in the newsletter, but I have to say thank you and call attention to Staff Senators Mo Carney, Quinneka McDonald, Kevin Breaux, Deanna Gresham, Anissa Mims, and Igor Matkovic, as well as our backbone, Melonie Milton, for their work in planning and executing this year’s Staff Appreciation Week. And thank you to all of our Staff Senators who volunteered for each event. I would still be in a dark room rocking back and forth without blinking if I didn’t have their support for what is, essentially, our largest event of the year.

We also couldn’t have pulled off our crawfish boil without financial support from the President’s Office, Office of Finance & Administration, and Tiger Athletic Foundation. Their partnership over the last year has been crucial to our success in a number of ways that I’ll probably detail better in next month’s newsletter.

Until then, take care of yourselves and each other.


Joshua Duplechain

Staff Senate President
Director of Communications
LSU College of Engineering