The Economic and Community Impact Study focused on the following four components:
1. The Impact of Spending
2. The Impact of Teaching
3. The Impact of Research and Service
4. The Impact on Quality of Life
Data from the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System (LASERS) and the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana (TRSL) indicated that numerous retired faculty and staff continue to live in the target areas of their respective universities. Gross retirement salary data collected from LASERS and TRSL was adjusted for benefits before being added to the spending model. Payments to health providers were estimated using data obtained from the Office of Group Benefits (OGB).
Payment data included zip codes of providers and thus were separated into target area and non-target area totals. Payments to non-OGB providers were also estimated by determining the number of employees and retirees not subscribed to OGB health plans and then multiplying that number by the yearly average payment per subscriber.
Each university collected events and activities data from academic and non-academic units on campus. Data collected included the event name and description, the sponsoring department, the date(s) and time of the events, and the number of non-university attendees. Each event was also categorized by type, e.g., athletic, performing arts, continuing education, public service, etc. The visitor data was used to estimate the number of day visitors and overnight visitors and their associated estimated expenses for transportation, food, and lodging. These estimates were added into the spending model.
The Impact of Teaching
This study examined the impact of teaching at UL System universities by analyzing the contributions of its graduates in economic and non-economic terms. The UL System graduates more students with baccalaureate and master’s degrees than any other state system.
Research on in-state retention rates of UL System graduates indicates that the rate is high, at least 65 percent. The dollar value to the state of such degree attainment was calculated.
Additional analysis demonstrated that UL System graduates contribute heavily to new and emerging industries identified by the office for Louisiana Economic Development as essential for future state growth. Graduates also benefit their communities and the state in other ways such as decreased crime rates, increased civic engagement, and better health.
The Impact of Research and Service
Universities in the UL System are increasingly participating in research and service projects and centers that have tremendous impact or potential impact on the region and state. Each university surveyed its academic and non-academic units to ascertain whether particular programs or centers have a beneficial impact to citizens outside the university community. Those that did were asked to describe such impact and to estimate quantitative indicators such as jobs created or sustained, dollars saved, and clients served.
The Impact on Quality of Life
The impact that the university makes on the quality of life in its region was estimated in two ways:
1) the events and activities data described previously was used to tally the number of participants and to categorize the types of events offered by each institution; and
2) the faculty/ staff and student surveys asked respondents to estimate the number of hours that are volunteered for community service projects. Campus teams used this data to gather further qualitative narrative on particular events of interest.