Mary Werner, chairwoman of the LSU Board of Supervisors.
Werner brings LSUE message home
There is probably no better friend of LSUE than Mary Werner, chairwoman of the LSU Board of Supervisors.
Werner is a frequent visitor to the campus for its major moments such as graduations, which is canceled this spring.
“The impact that LSUE has is just tremendous,” she said at a Eunice Rotary Club meeting earlier this month.
In 2016, Werner launched her campaign for Public Service Commission member, a race she lost to Mike Francis, of Crowley.
One message she brought to that race is more alive than ever, she said. The impact of coronavirus raises the need for broadband access, she said.
“We are far behind and we need to put students online,” she said as distance learning gets a new importance.
Werner was named by Gov. John Bel Edwards to fill the unexpired term of Scott Angelle on the LSU Board in 2017. In 2018, she was reappointed by Edwards to a six-year term on the Board.
Other Board members surprised her when they supported her to become chairwoman, she said.
Serving on the LSU Board of Supervisors is a family tradition. Her mother, Laura Leach, served on the Board for 18 years.
LSUE students come from four continents — “... a little secret that we have,” she said.
LSUE has more than 70 high schools in its 11-parish service area, she said.
There is an effort to dual enrollment and funding in being sought in the current session of the Legislature.
‘At LSUE we have students graduate with associate degrees before they complete their high school diplomas,” she said.
“No other community college can offer that,” she added.
The dual enrollment program allows students to become ready for work and college.
LSUE recently began nursing classes in Lafayette in conjunction with Lafayette General Hospital.
Placing LSUE inside Lafayette is not about competition, but is a collaborative effort, she said.
“What I see is we all offer certain things,” she said of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and South Louisiana Community College.
Werner said it is part of master plan to bring higher education together and not pit institutions against one another.
“I’m very excited about having the opportunity to move these things forward,” she said.
In early March before classes on campus were shutdown, Werner said the LSU system was handling the coronavirus threat in a deliberative approach.
On the search for a news president, Werner said the Board would look at whether the top job includes being chancellor of the LSU Baton Rouge campus.
The system also is looking to expand its online presence, she said.
“We are global and we can be a global brand,” she said.
LSUE offers a unique entry into the LSU system, she said. If a student is not ready for the Baton Rouge campus, the Eunice campus can be a place to start, she said.