Shell USA Inc. pledged $ 27.5 million to LSU on Thursday to establish an energy research institute and to help construct a new science building already backed with major funding by Our Lady of the Lake.
Of its total donation, $ 25 million will set up the LSU Institute for Energy Innovation. University President William F. Tate said it would make LSU “a national model” for science and engineering in energy-related fields involving hydrogen, carbon capture, storage of electricity, and low-carbon fuels.
The remainder of the gift would be dedicated to the Our Lady of the Lake Interdisciplinary Science building that will house LSU’s College of Science.
The gift is LSU’s largest from a for-profit corporation. It is also a major step in Tate’s “Scholarship First” agenda, which has set five key priorities for LSU: agriculture, biotechnology, coast, defense and energy.
“I want to emphasize the connection,” Tate said. “This gift is how we advance industry priority and will maximize the state’s investment of one-time funds in industry-related initiatives.”
Tate’s vision for the energy portion of the plan involves building a collaborative research platform within Louisiana’s energy industry, creating a national energy hub focused on safe and sustained energy sources and partnering with industry to cultivate talent for the evolution of energy-related jobs in Louisiana. the future.
“We will build upon this partnership to invite others to join us in shaping the future of the industry for Louisiana and the nation,” Tate said.
Approximately $ 6.4 million of the donation will support diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives within the energy industry through workforce development, faculty recruitment and student support.
“I think Shell is extremely interested in the fact that we have a very diverse student population,” Tate said. “We have rural, urban and across all different demographic backgrounds and they’re keen on finding the very best people we have.”
For Tate, the Shell deal could lead to tangible results in line with his vision for the university.
“Clearly, what we want to be able to measure is how well we are able to create products that secure our status as a leader in the energy field in the state,” Tate said in an interview with The Advocate in April. be measured in the form of patents and partnerships. ”
The $ 2.5 million designated for the new interdisciplinary science facility at LSU will go towards the $ 109 million building that will contain a four-story epicenter for academics, research and industry collaboration.
The 148,000-square-foot facility, located on the corner of Tower Drive and South Stadium Drive, will become a central hub for LSU faculty and students across science disciplines to collaborate on nearly $ 35 million in annual research awards, the school said.
“As our society needs progressive partnerships to accelerate our climate transition and move us into a carbon-neutral world, I’m proud and excited to see Shell and LSU take that next step,” said Lee Stockwell, Shell general manager for US carbon capture. utilization and storage. “To develop science and technology and, most importantly, the people who are going to guide Louisiana and lead the Gulf Coast into the future.”
Between developing innovative energy solutions and providing the field with a diverse group of candidates, Tate said the donation from Shell will help push LSU forward as a leader in the energy industry.
“Think about it on the R&D (research and development) front and also on the workforce development front, those two will be catalytic,” he said. “We’re already in space, we’ve just got to move faster, better and more efficiently.”
Funding for the LSU science building was announced in February as part of $ 245 million in investments from Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge and LCMC Health in New Orleans. That funding package was aimed at promoting cancer research and science education and developing health-related facilities for LSU’s athletic programs.