Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, generally known as Louisiana State University or LSU, is a public, coeducational university located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and the main campus of the Louisiana State University System. LSU includes nine senior colleges and three schools, in addition to specialized centers, divisions, institutes, and offices. Enrollment stands at more than 32,000 students, and there are 1,300 full-time faculty members.
Grants made by the United States government in 1806, 1811, and 1827 gave rise to Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College. It was founded as a military academy and is still today steeped in military tradition as seen in 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, Louisiana. The institution opened January 2, 1860, with Colonel William Tecumseh Sherman as superintendent. A year later, Sherman resigned his position over conflicts with the state. The school then closed June 30, 1861 because of the American Civil War. It reopened on April 1 but was again closed on April 23, 1863, because of the invasion of the Red River Valley by the federal army. The losses sustained by the institution during the war were heavy. Following the war, General Sherman donated two cannons to the institution. These cannons had been captured from Confederate forces who had used them to start the war when fired at Fort Sumter, SC. They are still currently on display in front of LSU's Military Science building.
The seminary reopened 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 changed to Louisiana State University.
Then, Louisiana State Agricultural and 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, prompting the final name change for the university to the Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College.
On April 30, 1926, formal dedication of the present LSU campus took place, 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; it was not, however, until 1932 that the move was finally completed. 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.
Recently, the LSU System has not experienced major difficulties, but LSU was hit by scandal in 1939. James Monroe Smith, appointed by Louisiana Governor Huey P. Long as president of LSU, was charged with embezzling a half-million dollars. In the ensuing investigation, at least twenty state officials were indicted, and 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. Paul M. Hebert, Dean of LSU's law school at the time, then assumed interim presidency of in Smith's place.
Beginning in 1964, LSU admitted its first undergraduate African-American students. This admission policy was instituted on June 8, 1964.
In 1969, mandatory ROTC for freshmen and sophomores was abolished. However, LSU maintains Air Force and Army ROTC.
Also, in 1978, LSU was named a sea-grant college, the 13th university in the nation to be so designated and the highest classification attainable in the program.
In 1992, the LSU Board of Supervisors approved the creation of the LSU Honors College.
The seventh chancellor of LSU, former NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe, assumed his position in 2005. Administrators were accused of hiring O'Keefe without proper consideration from faculty, students, and other concerned parties. Additionally and to the chagrin of some professors, he was awarded tenure.
In 2007, long-time LSU System president William Jenkins announced his retirement, and John V. Lombardi, previously the president of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and LSU rival University of Florida, was named his replacement. After some weeks of rumors in the press suggesting that O'Keefe's future with the University was uncertain, he resigned on January 16, 2008, apparently under pressure from Lombardi.
The LSU main campus occupies a 650 acre (2.6 km²) plateau on the banks of the Mississippi River; overall, LSU is located on 2,000 acres (8.1 km²) of land just south of downtown Baton Rouge. The campus boasts more than 250 principal buildings. Many of the buildings are built in the style of Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, and are marked by red pantiled roofs, overhanging eaves, rolling arches, and honey-colored stucco, and most were built between 1925 and 1940. Thomas Gaines' The Campus as a Work of Art praises LSU's landscaping as "a botanical joy" in its listing among the 20 best campuses in America. The live oak trees on campus have been valued at $36 million. Through the LSU Foundation's "Endow an Oak" program, individuals or groups are able to endow live oaks across campus.
Other campuses in the LSU system include the LSU Agricultural Center, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center, University of New Orleans, LSU Shreveport, LSU at Eunice, LSU Alexandria, and the LSU Health Sciences Centers: LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans (LSU School of Dentistry, which is a part of LSUHSC NO is one of the few dental schools in the United States to have its own separate campus), Health Care Services Division (Public Hospital System), and LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport. In addition, LSU owns and operates the J. Bennett Johnston Sr. Center for Advanced Microstructures and Devices (CAMD), which is a 1.3 GeV synchrotron radiation facility .
Several LSU buildings, including the Student Union and the Pennington Research Center, were designed by the Baton Rouge architect John Desmond, who also taught architecture part-time at LSU.
The Libraries' Special Collections division is housed in Hill Memorial Library Special Collections and comprises more than 200,000 volumes of published works, 10 million manuscript items, 200,000 historic photographs, 16,000 reels of newspaper microfilm, hundreds of oral histories, and other diverse materials for research. It includes the Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, a Rare Book Collection, the University Archives, the E.A. McIlhenny Natural History Collection, the U.S. Civil War Center, and the T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History.
LSU, with school colors purple and gold, is a member of the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) and the Southeastern Conference. It fields teams in 20 varsity sports (9 men's, 11 women's). Its official team nickname is the Fighting Tigers; and Lady Tigers for women's teams that have a male counterpart (the term "Bayou Bengals" is also heard at times, but not officially recognized). LSU's mascot refers to its Confederate heritage, drawing from the fame of two Louisiana brigades whose fierce fighting earned them the nickname "the Louisiana Tigers." Based on winning percentage, the University's athletics program is consistently one of the best in the nation.
LSU Tigers football began in 1893, with national championship wins in the 1958, 2003 and 2007 seasons. LSU is the first and only team to win two BCS National Championships. LSU won their first BCS National Championship in 2003 with a 21-14 victory over the Oklahoma Sooners. The LSU Fighting Tigers won their second BCS National Championship in 2007 with a 38-24 over the Ohio State Buckeyes. In 2006, the Tigers defeated Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl, 41–14. They also beat Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Alabama, ULL, Tulane, Fresno State, and Arizona. Their two losses were to the national champion Florida Gators, and to Auburn. LSU ended the season with the 10th ranked offense and 3rd ranked defense. Their quarterback, JaMarcus Russell, had the third best passer rating. He decided to skip his senior year to go to the NFL. He was the number one overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft. Free safety LaRon Landry, WR Dwayne Bowe, and WR Craig Davis also went in the first round.
LSU Athletics is represented by its mascot, a Bengal tiger named Mike the Tiger. The tiger was named after Mike Chambers, LSU's athletic trainer in 1936, when Mike I was bought for $750 from the Little Rock (Ark.) Zoo. Mike I was introduced on October 21, 1936. Mike V reigned from 1990–2007. It was announced in March 2007 that Mike V had entered into the first stage of retirement. He remained housed in his on-campus habitat until his death due to kidney failure on May 18, 2007 at age 17. The latest in the line is two years old, weighs 300 pounds and was acquired from an Indiana big-cat sanctuary. Previously known as Roscoe, "Mike VI" is a Bengal-Siberian mix and was officially named Mike on September 8th, 2007. He was introduced to fans at the home game against Florida on October 6th 2007.
LSU's arenas include Tiger Stadium (football, also known as "Death Valley"), Pete Maravich Assembly Center (basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics, also known as the PMAC), Carl Maddox Fieldhouse (indoor track), Bernie Moore Stadium (outdoor track), Tiger Park (softball), and Alex Box Stadium (baseball). New baseball and softball arenas are currently being constructed, but the venues will retain the old names, respectively.
A similar sound level resulted in the legendary "Earthquake Game" against Auburn in 1988. LSU won 7–6 when quarterback Tommy Hodson completed a game-winning touchdown pass to running back Eddie Fuller in the waning seconds of the game. The crowd's roar registered on a seismograph, shaking the ground as much as a small earthquake. No other stadium has ever produced such a reading.
Several LSU athletes have gone on to recognition for their prominence in their respective sports. Pete Maravich played basketball for LSU and was three-time consensus first team All-American and 1970 National 'Player of the Year'. Shaquille O'Neal also played basketball for LSU and received many honors, including being named twice as a first team Men's Basketball All-American and twice as the SEC Player Of The Year. Billy Cannon played Halfback for LSU and is the only LSU player to win the Heisman Trophy (in 1959).
Others have gone on to national and international prominence in politics and academics. Such notables include James Carville, who was the senior political adviser to Bill Clinton, and Donna Brazile, the campaign manager of the 2000 presidential campaign of Vice-President Al Gore.