From the Pages of History

Housed in a building with a history as rich as its contents, LSU Libraries’ Special Collections has, since 1985, provided researchers with a gold mine of rare books, archives, manuscripts and photos detailing Louisiana’s past.

Special Collections in the Hill Memorial Library offers resources for original research in many fields. The program collects, preserves, provides discovery and access to, and promotes and instructs in the use of a wealth of research materials in areas including the humanities and social sciences, the natural sciences, agriculture, aquaculture, and art and design. These collections are largely donated by families with strong Louisiana ties.

Dr. Trent James, who, like his brother, uncle, father and grandfather, is an LSU alumnus, recently donated his family’s papers, detailing his father’s and uncle’s involvement in LSU and the Louisiana sugar industry throughout the early 20th century.

“[My father] loved LSU and appreciated everything it had given him,” James shared, continuing, “We have a lot of ties to LSU. We always loved it. It made me who I am.”

Seeing that the family’s papers were beginning to get scattered among family members, James decided to donate them. “It seemed to be the right thing to do,” he shared, adding that Special Collections is composed of “papers that would be otherwise lost and not available to anyone if they weren’t kept there. But they are available to those who want to study.”

James said he has a special passion for libraries—both his wife and daughter are librarians. “People want accurate information, and so much of it you can’t glean unless you read it and extract it yourself,” he explained. “That’s what libraries are good for. They get it organized, they make it accessible … That’s where librarians come in, and I think they’re essential. Somebody needs to judge, and constantly question, and make sure the information is accurate and true.”

Through the generosity of individuals like James, who donate both materials and funds to process those materials, Special Collections is able to build collections that serve students, scholars and the general public; enhance access to its unique holdings; provide educational public programming and exhibitions; and preserve the history of Louisiana and the Lower Mississippi Valley.

James feels libraries are the source of knowledge. “I believe in libraries,” he said. “They’re essential. I think there will always be a need for books.”

Published in Cornerstone Winter 2013 and Spring 2014.

Committed to the Coast

Washington Mardi Gras
Since 1944, Louisianians have had a spirited presence in Washington, D.C., for the annual Washington Mardi Gras. During this year’s nearly week-long celebration, Mystick Krewe of Louisianians King Martin Svendson held a cocktail reception to raise money for a scholarship he and his wife started. Martin and wife Mary “Moo” Turner Svendson created the scholarship in memory of Moo’s father, Bert Turner, founder of Turner Industries. The Bert Turner Memorial Scholarship is awarded annually to a full-time undergraduate student in the LSU School of the Coast & Environment.

Moo shared, “Through the business success Bert achieved, he made it possible for many of his children and grandchildren to enjoy Louisiana’s magnificent wetlands and coastal resources in a special way. Today, many of his children and grandchildren enjoy the fruits of the coast, including fishing, an abundant variety of seafood, incredible scenery and majestic wildlife. When time permitted, Bert enjoyed fishing offshore with fellow businessmen. He appreciated the bounty of the sea, which, as we know, originates in our precious, delicate and vanishing coastal wetlands.

“The Svendson family wanted to honor my father for his many contributions and successes and to originate a scholarship in his honor. This is one way of thanking him, while, at the same time, supporting an institution with a world-class coastal studies curriculum.”

coast-newCommitted to the Coast
LSU recently launched “Committed to the Coast,” a campaign to raise coastal awareness by bringing attention to Louisiana’s impending coastal crisis, LSU’s coastal research and the impact of that research on Louisiana.

  • LSU boasts 200 faculty members involved in coastal research, bringing in approximately $73 million in grants to focus attention on these critical issues.
  • Louisiana contains 40 percent of the nation’s wetlands, but 80 percent of the nation’s wetland loss.
  • An LSU engineering study recently demonstrated that more than 60 miles of vital New Orleans area evacuation routes are vulnerable to land loss and subsidence (i.e., sinking or falling) and could be lost by 2100.
  • An LSU faculty member recently became the first scientist ever to accurately predict norovirus outbreaks in oyster beds when he detected contamination in Cameron Parish 30 days before the oysters were scheduled for harvest.
  • An LSU research team discovered that introducing excess nitrogen can make a salt marsh literally fall apart in 5 to 7 years.

Published in Cornerstone Summer and Fall 2013.

Arbor Day Foundation Names LSU a Tree Campus USA

In early 2013, the national Arbor Day Foundation named LSU a Tree Campus USA for the first time.

Tree Campus USA was created in 2008 to honor universities and colleges for effective management of campus forests and engaging staff and students in conservation goals.

“Achieving recognition as a Tree Campus USA is an important component in the overall management of the urban forest at LSU,” Assistant director of LSU Landscape Services Fred Fellner, PhD, said. “The size and value of the campus forest, both in literal and perceptive terms, is enormous. The trees are recognized world over and are a signature element at LSU.”

Since 1993, donors’ support of the LSU Foundation’s Endow an Oak program has provided immediate and long-term funding for the care of LSU’s renowned urban forest.

Josh Anders and brothers Jason and Judd, all LSU graduates, recently endowed an oak in memory of their grandmother, Juanita “Neet” Crawford, a Louisiana conservationist.

Anders shared why the gift is meaningful to his family, explaining, “My brothers and I will always consider the oaks on LSU’s campus a timeless, integral part of the university. Being able to invest in the sustainability of LSU’s historic oaks has been a great experience for my family.”

Fellner said the program was a valuable feature when applying for LSU as a Tree Campus USA. “Indeed, it was the principal driver in data collection and tree identification over the past many years that made our application process easier,” he said. “This was an unexpected benefit of the endowment program, could not be anticipated at its inception, and was truly
serendipitous.”

LSU achieved the title by meeting Tree Campus USA’s five standards, which include maintaining a tree advisory committee, dedicating annual expenditutres toward trees, having a campus tree-care plan, and hosting an Arbor Day observance and student service-learning projects.

LSU’s campus is home to roughly 1,200 oak trees, and they are as much a part of the university as are its students, faculty, staff and historic buildings.

Gifts of any amount may be made to the Foundation’s Endow an Oak program to support the general care and maintenance of LSU’s most treasured natural “residents.” An LSU oak can be endowed for a gift of $4,000, of which $2,000 builds the oak endowment to provide perpetual support and $2,000 can be used immediately by LSU’s arbor management team.

Published in Cornerstone Summer and Fall 2013.

A Dog’s Chance

From the night 10 years ago when David Blank rescued her and her sister from the side of the road, Peanut has been a happy and playful dog. Even after being home alone when her house caught on fire. Even after jumping from the second floor balcony as soon as her leash burned through. Even after sustaining kidney failure, edema and major burns covering her head and back. Peanut is happy.

Peanut was first treated at White Oak Animal Hospital, her usual veterinary clinic, which suggested the Blanks take Peanut to the LSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital. One of the treatments Peanut underwent was continuous renal replacement therapy (similar to dialysis); LSU is one among only 10 places in the U.S. to offer this treatment for animals. The research and resources at LSU enabled doctors to heal Peanut in remarkable time.

This year marks the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine’s 40th. To celebrate the special anniversary, the school has launched a $5 million fundraising plan; the “Above and Beyond Capital Challenge” will augment three key programs: advancing cures for cancer, biomedical research, and companion animal health facilities equipment and enhancements.

Ginger Guttner, LSU SVM director of public relations, said the challenge “represents our future, our mission and our service to the community.”
Funding for these programs is what enables victories like Peanut’s. Through ICU, a “wound VAC” (i.e., a sterile infection vacuum) and the constant care of doctors and students, Peanut has bounced back.

“She’s back to her old self,” Blank said with a thankful smile.

Published in Cornerstone Summer and Fall 2013.

Family Matters

Brothers Tim and Daniel Banks were relaxing at home, with dinner on the stove, when they heard a loud “bang.” They rushed to the kitchen, only to see it engulfed in flames.

The two LSU students hurried to round up their four foster animals and alert neighbors in their duplex. A crew of firemen arrived in five minutes, Tim said, adding, “But, that was pretty much all it took.”

The brothers lost everything, but friends, neighbors and even strangers rallied to help. “The money was nice,” Tim shared, “but it was also nice that people were there to help us out whenever it actually did happen.”

The LSU Family Association was among the first donors to step up.

The organization initiated the Student Life Emergency Support Fund last fall in its semi-annual meeting. The association, dedicated to helping families with their students’ transitions to LSU, offers opportunities for family members to partner with the university during their students’ time at LSU.

Family Association Council co-chairs Juan and Joanne Carrillo led the effort to support students who are experiencing crises. Joanne explained, “We’ve committed to a 24-hour turnaround response to those applicants, because it is an emergency, and they need to knowright away.”

While living in Dubai, Juan and Joanne sent two sons to LSU. Joanne said, “I have boys, and boys are not good communicators. Through the Family Association, from a distance, I could have access to information I needed, but also I was invited to share what was important to me as parent.”

The Carrillos were asked to chair the council in early 2011, shortly after moving back to Baton Rouge. Since then, the couple has worked to enhance existing programs and innovate with new programs.

Whether the effort is as needed as the Student Life Emergency Support Fund, or as much fun as the Family Weekend dessert social under the Campanile, the Family Association is committed to serving the university with initiatives to benefit student life.

Tim said the fire in October was more stressful than he could believe, sharing, “You don’t have anything. You don’t have any money. You don’t have anywhere to go. At the same time, you’re taking classes and you’re not gonna drop out.”

Contributions like the one Tim and Daniel received from the Student Life Emergency Support Fund have enabled them to find a new home and return to a sense of normalcy.

Published in Cornerstone Summer and Fall 2013.