E.J. Ourso College of Business Dean Richard White wants students to know why a bottle of water costs more than a bottle of gasoline. White began writing a new strategic plan for the college when he became dean last April.
One of the plan’s top priorities is an “energized business” initiative.
The initiative details an energy studies minor and an energy MBA specialization for those who want to learn more about Louisiana’s prized resource.
The program is expected to be approved soon, said business school marketing manager Josh Duplechain.
White said the program aligns with the University’s new Power Players campaign. Power Players is designed to help University researchers and the energy industry interact.
“We’re putting together Power Players right now,” White said. “We’ve got several who are doing some really interesting energy research.”
The college will host an event on March 11 with four high-ranking speakers from the energy industry to promote the program.
“That’s going to be our unofficial announcement of the initiative,” White said. “I’m excited about it.”
The initiative gives students a broader understanding of an industry that is crucial to the Louisiana economy.
About 65,000 people in the state are directly employed in the energy sector.
White said the initiative has two main purposes: to make University students more competitive in the job market and provide the energy industry with more qualified applicants.
“I want to have students who understand the terminology, the definitions, the value streams,” White said. “Even more importantly, I want to have the students be self-selected when they interview.”
The energy industry is one of the least understood industries in the state, he said. If students can understand energy, they can handle any other industry.
The demand for business graduates has never been higher, White said — particularly on the executive track.
“That’s where the need really is,” White said. “The sooner you can get students prepared for that, the better. This will give them a leg up in that transition.”
Though Tulane University has a similar program, the University’s version won’t be as complex. It’s more about getting students excited about the field, White said.
“We’re more interested in giving our students a fire in their belly for their careers, for some really exciting careers in the energy industry,” White said. “The purpose here is not to create experts, but to give an overall awareness to our students of the energy industry.”
The business school will become more energy-oriented as a whole.
Other activities, such as case studies and international travel, will develop this focus as well.
White said the energy initiative would not be affected by the $141.3 million budget cut. The college is raising money from supporters and corporations to independently support the program.
“We’re not going to let anything stand in our way with this,” White said. “This is important to the long-term future of the college, to our students and to the industry.”
The University previously offered a degree in petroleum land management, but it was discontinued in 1994.
White said the University needs to support the energy industry in good times and bad.
“We’re in this for the long haul, it’s where LSU should be as an institution,” White said. “Now’s a bad time. Oil prices have been cut in half over the last six months, so this shows our commitment to this program, that we’re sticking with it even as a lot of energy corporations are cutting back.”