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LSU Shreveport Top Tier 1 School in Third Way's Economic Mobility Index

In the Spring 2024 semester, LSU Shreveport was awarded the title of the top tier 1 school in Third Way’s annual economic mobility index.

In the Spring 2024 semester, LSU Shreveport was awarded the title of the top tier 1 school in Third Way’s annual economic mobility index. Robert Smith, the LSUS chancellor defines what economic mobility is.

Robert Smith The meaning of that award … we’re the top-rated institution in Louisiana by the Economic Mobility Index and that's a measure of how well an institution moves students from economically challenged backgrounds- they're Pell eligible- how well we move those students from there all the way through college degrees and on to good-paying jobs. We were the highest in Louisiana, were one of only three in the top 20% nationally, so that's a pretty good indication. This is important because this is the demographic of students who we serve, and we ought to serve them. This is our mission and it's just an indication of how well we're serving that mission. We take students who are challenged, sometimes economically, and find ways to help them get across the finish line. Especially for first generation students, college education is transformational.

A first-generation college student is any university student whose parents did not receive a four-year college degree. Sixty percent of LSUS’s undergraduate population is made up of first-generation students, and Chancellor Smith is also a first-generation graduate. He says that LSUS purposefully aims to assist first-generation students first.

Robert Smith You know, first generation students don't have that tradition in their families of higher education. All that means is it's harder for them- they may have family support, but their families have not been through this, so they don't quite know what to make of it, right, of college. I remember the challenges, you know, I mean challenges I ran into as an undergraduate. I couldn't go home to my parents and ask them about any of those things, because they hadn’t experienced it, right, so we provide those supports to students. Both in terms of academic support, to the Student Success Center, the tutoring and so on, that we do, we're doing. And in particular trying to be very mindful of first-generation college students.

In addition to this award, LSUS broke its own attendance record with 10,214 enrolled students for the Spring semester. This is unusual for a four-year university. For the past decade, college enrollments have been decreasing and are expected to continue to decline due to the current ‘enrollment cliff.’ An enrollment cliff occurs when there is a drop in traditional age college students. Through this adversity, LSUS has been able to reach record breaking numbers. Smith says there are multiple reasons why LSUS has grown, and one of the main reasons is because of its availability to non-traditional students.

Robert Smith I was down at the state capitol a few weeks ago, and I'm standing in the Rotunda of the state capitol, and out of the corner of my eyes, see a State Trooper making a beeline for me, coming right at me. And he said, ‘Chancellor,’ he said, ‘I just wanted to thank you for the MBA program that LSU has online,’ he said. ‘I finished my MBA at LSUS, I simply couldn't have done anywhere else,’ because of the way we structure the program. So, the courses, they're fully online, they're designed from the ground up right, not as an afterthought, not as a secondary consideration, from the ground up for working adults. It's the supports we put in place for students. It's the attitude of our faculty. Our faculty are focused on the success of our students. Every single person I met was focused on student success, and I thought, either that's an elaborate hoax that they coached everybody to say things like that or it's for real, and guess what, it's for real.

This is Alaina Atnip with Red River Radio.