Energy giant Shell has donated $27.5 million to LSU to create an Institute for Energy Innovation and help pay for construction of the new Our Lady of the Lake Interdisciplinary Science Building.
LSU announced the donation, which it said was the largest ever from a for-profit corporation, at a press conference Thursday.
Of the total donation, $25 million will go to establishing the new energy institute and $2.5 million in funds will go to building the Our Lady of the Lake Interdisciplinary Science building, the top capital project for LSU this year.
“Shell is the founding partner of the LSU Institute for Energy Innovation and we will build upon this partnership to invite others to join us in shaping the future of industry for Louisiana and the nation,” LSU president William F. Tate IV said at the press conference.
The new energy institute will make LSU “a national model” for science and engineering in energy-related fields like hydrogen, carbon capture, storage of electricity, and low-carbon fuels, the university said in a news release.
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 that 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.”
The gift is a major step in Tate’s Scholarship First Agenda, which has set five key priorities for LSU: Agriculture, Biotechnology, Coast, Defense and Energy.
Tate said the Shell donation is exactly the type of investment that will help boost his agenda.
“I want to emphasize the connection to the Scholarship First Agenda,” he 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 for the future.
“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 told The Advocate in April. “That can 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.
“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,” Lee Stockwell, Shell general manager for US carbon capture utilization and storage, said. “To develop the 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 front and also on the workforce development front, those two will be catalytic,” he said. “We’re already in the space, we’ve just got to move faster, better and more efficiently.”