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Daily Reveille: Shell donates record sum toward research facility: Funds will build coastal center


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(Recent graduates of LSU who are now employed by Shell accept Shell’s $3.5 million donation for coastal studies and business recovery. The donation is the largest one-time cash pledge from an energy company in the University’s history.)

Sarah Yokubaitis
Posted: 11/21/06

Shell Oil Products Co. made a record $3.5 million donation to the University this past week.

“We are proud of this great partnership and dedicated to taking our collaboration to new heights with this most generous gift,” Chancellor Sean O’Keefe said.

Over the past five years, oil giant Shell and the University have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship with the $300 billion corporation contributing a total of roughly $5 million to the University and the University sending more than 50 University graduates to work for Shell.

“Shell is dedicated to the Louisiana communities where we live and work,” said David Sexton, president of Shell. “We hope this grant will benefit the state long term – particularly with regard to environmental restoration and business revitalization.”

The recent donation is the largest ever by Shell and the first major corporate donation since the beginning of the “Forever LSU” campaign. The $3.5 million Shell donation is expected to be supplemented by an additional $800,000 from the Louisiana Board of Regents, bringing the total amount donated to $4.3 million.

The donation is being managed by the School of the Coast and Environment, which plans to use $3 million of the donation to build a “state of the art coastal ecosystem research center” in the Breton Sound area along the Mississippi Delta to replace the old research station that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

“[For] grad students in the School of the Coast and the Environment, the new research center is an opportunity to get hands-on research,” said Jeff Hale, LSU Foundation senior director of corporate and foundation relations. “All coastal research stations were destroyed. We’re hoping that it is the first one to be rebuilt. We’re thinking that is the case.”

Of the remaining donation, $500,000 will go to the E. J. Ourso School of Business to fund counseling and assistance for women and minority businesses impacted by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and $1.2 million will fund an endowed chair in the School of the Coast and Environment.

“A chair means a top faculty will be recruited for the School of the Coast and the Environment, and this will enhance the reputation of the University,” Hale said. “An enhanced reputation helps everyone here.”

Hale said that while the School of the Coast and Environment benefits more directly from the Shell donation, the entire University is impacted by the money.

“It’s not just where the money goes; it’s where the money from the state appropriations can be transferred,” he said. “Money we would have had to spend on the faculty can now be spent on scholarships.”

Current students are not the only ones benefitting from the University-Shell alliance.

In August the University became Shell’s top recruiting school in the United States.

“The highest we’d ever reached in previous years was No. 4,” Hale said. “This year some of their recruiting outside the state has been hampered by people not wanting to come to Louisiana because of the hurricanes.”

LSU Foundation representatives expect to see similar sizable corporate donations in the coming years.

“When a large oil company gives us a huge gift like this, it puts other companies under pressure to make similar donations,” Hale said. “They’re competing for our students, research, visibility and environmental action. The gift influences others. It can’t help but have that impact.

“I’m confident that by 2010 when we celebrate the conclusion of this campaign there will be an increase in cooperation and foundation donations as well as individual donations.”

Contact Sarah Yokubaitis at [email protected]

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