Breaking New Ground in Giving

Mechanical engineering students and members of this year's Tiger Racing team show Phyllis Taylor their project.  Photo: Darlene Aguillard
Mechanical engineering students and members of this year's Tiger Racing team show Phyllis Taylor their project.

Phyllis M. Taylor, LSU College of Engineering Breaking New Ground campaign co-chair, announced on April 20 a $15 million gift commitment to honor the legacy of Patrick F. Taylor and accelerate the momentum of the $100 million public-private partnership to support the renovation of Patrick F. Taylor Hall and construction of a chemical engineering facility. The pledge represents the largest private donation to the LSU Foundation for the benefit of the College of Engineering in the college’s history.

In 2007, LSU formally named the Center for Engineering and Business Administration building in honor of Patrick F. Taylor, who graduated from LSU with a petroleum engineering degree in 1959. In 1979, he founded the Taylor Energy Company, which became the only solely owned independent company to explore for and produce oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico. It was eventually named one of the top 100 private employers in New Orleans, La., due to Taylor’s practice of hiring and contracting with Louisiana companies.

“From a very early age, Patrick was determined to become an ‘oil man,’” Mrs. Taylor said of her late husband, sharing, “The College of Engineering at LSU provided him with the education to see that ambition become a reality.” She continued, “Immediately after graduation from LSU, Patrick began helping others to attend college and realize their goals. I can think of no more appropriate means of furthering his desires to help others and our society than by assisting in the funding of the much needed renovation of the building known as Patrick F. Taylor Hall.”

Through the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation (the Taylors’ private foundation), the Taylors have provided countless students with the opportunity to earn a college degree. Mr. Taylor was instrumental in establishing TOPS, Louisiana's Taylor Opportunity Program for Students. Through their efforts, similar programs have been introduced in 23 other states.

Mr. Taylor once said of his life, “The way I want to be remembered is by the young people of this nation and my ties to them. I tell them that, like me, they can dream. I talk about hard work, integrity and guts. I demand that of them, and they respond.”

LSU Foundation President and CEO Lee Griffin described the gift honoring Mr. Taylor, saying, “Phyllis Taylor’s gift is truly transformational, and her generosity is inspirational. Mrs. Taylor’s decision to honor her husband’s legacy by helping the College of Engineering break new ground will impact LSU students, faculty and staff for decades to come.”

LSU President Designate F. King Alexander explained the impact of Mrs. Taylor’s gift, saying, “Today's economy needs engineers now more than ever. This project shows the significance of the role this university will play now and in the future to entice students to enroll and encourage them to stay and graduate in STEM majors. On behalf of the university, we thank Mrs. Taylor for her commitment to jump-start this project and push it to fruition as we educate generations of the future."

Launched publicly on April 20, 2013, the college’s Breaking New Ground campaign will support the next generation of engineering education at LSU and holds great promise for a stronger College of Engineering. The campaign website,, offers information on elevating the level of engineering excellence in Louisiana.

On Oct. 2, 2012, Gov. Bobby Jindal committed that his administration will support $50 million in capital outlay funding for the project. Remaining funds will be covered by private giving. Donors have generously committed $25.4 million in support of the College of Engineering for the Breaking New Ground campaign.

Jindal said of the partnership, “Over the past four and a half years, Louisiana’s economy has outperformed the national and southern economies, and we have rocketed to the top of national rankings for business climate. These are signs of incredible progress. But we cannot rest on our laurels. We cannot become complacent if we truly want to make Louisiana the best place in the world to raise a family and find a job. That’s why we need to build on our progress and make sure Louisiana remains competitive and attractive to companies looking to invest and create jobs. That means having a workforce with world-class skills.

“This public-private partnership will accelerate academic excellence for LSU by leveraging individual and state support to fast track progress. It also holds great promise to advance state and national economic development initiatives by expanding the pipeline for a highly trained workforce in the areas of engineering, construction management and computer science to help meet industry demand.”

“This $100 million public-private partnership will allow the college to bring leading-edge educational experiences to our students,” said College of Engineering Dean Rick Koubek.

The college’s new and renovated complex will include expanded, modern laboratory space for teaching, as well as translational research, updated graduate student space, enhanced and expanded space for student services, an academic support center, dedicated capstone project space, and other multi-disciplinary space for student projects. The architectural design phase will start in December of this year, with construction slated to begin in the fall of 2014 and estimated to be completed by the fall of 2017.

At approximately 300,000 square feet, Taylor Hall, which was completed in 1977, is the largest freestanding building on the LSU campus. The building has structurally depreciated over the past 30 years and is in need of significant repair.

Prior to the construction of the new Business Education Complex, the LSU College of Engineering had access to only about half of the available space in Taylor Hall. With the renovation of Taylor Hall, as well as the addition of a new annex that will be dedicated to chemical engineering, the total amount of first-class academic space for the LSU College of Engineering will grow to more than 380,000 square feet—an increase of more than 100 percent.

“This institution exists for the citizens of this state,” said LSU Interim Chancellor William Jenkins. “This is a significant and epic changing project as we look to the economic development of this state and prepare for a Louisiana of tomorrow.”

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