The BoRSF, funded through the interest earnings from a $583 million Trust Fund dedicated in the Louisiana State Constitution to the Board of Regents in 1987, is designed to foster excellence in education, research and service, as well as promote economic development through collaborations between academic programs and industrial, business and professional entities. The Louisiana Constitution mandates that funds allocated to the BoRSF be used for “any or all of the following higher educational purposes to enhance economic development”: carefully defined research efforts at public and private universities in Louisiana; endowment of chairs for eminent scholars; enhancement of the quality of academic, research, or agricultural departments or units within a university; and recruitment of superior graduate students.
As early as FY 1988-89, the Board began co-sponsoring research projects with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and supporting the development of Louisiana’s scientific research and educational infrastructure under NSF’s Experimental, now Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). The Board’s involvement in EPSCoR has grown over the years to include programs with NASA, the Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of Defense (DoD), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
As part of recovery efforts after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, U.S. HUD’s Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) program provided funding for the Research Commercialization and Educational Enhancement Program (RC/EEP). Total funding of $28,500,000 was provided, and $27,605,000 awarded to recommended projects. RC/EEP was designed to promote long-term recovery by increasing research in key subject areas with commercial potential by developing economic opportunities in the impacted areas, and by enhancing the quality and availability of undergraduate and graduate education in STEM disciplines. This initiative terminated in 2013.
The State, in collaboration with private-sector and federal agencies, has made targeted allocations in priority R&D areas. The resulting programs, often special appropriations from the Governor and Legislature, have been administered and/or supported by the Board of Regents. Special programs have included the Governor’s Biotechnology Initiative, the Information Technology Initiative and Louisiana Gene Therapy Research Consortium.