As F. King Alexander begins his third year leading the LSU System, he talks with Sue Lincoln about what he really expected when he took the job. He puts higher education funding concerns in perspective, and shares his goals for the years to come.

For the first time in months, LSU System President F. King Alexander was able to relax a bit over the weekend.

“I spent it with our daughter, at her soccer tournament Saturday and Sunday.”

Last Thursday, Louisiana’s full House passed some revenue raising bills, alleviating some of Alexander’s worry that no solution to the $1.6 billion budget deficit – and the crippling cuts looming over higher education – would be found. Today, the House Appropriations Committee is expected to add that additional funding into the budget bill, with the bulk going toward higher education.

Alexander says the situation appears brighter than before, but, “We’ve got a long ways to go. We’re not there yet.”

The Louisiana survey takes the pulse of the people every year about major policy issues facing the state. LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab has been rolling out the results of this year’s edition.

Research Director Michael Henderson agrees public opinion is leaving lawmakers between a rock and a hard place when it comes to closing the state budget hole. As for state services, the public gives the colleges and universities particularly high marks. And though a majority still opposes it, there's slowly growing acceptance of same-sex marriage.

The sciences are tough enough. For students of color, studying science, technology, engineering or math can be particularly daunting.

At LSU over the last decade and then some, Isiah Warner has been leading efforts to help those students make it from high school all the way through graduate school. And it seems to be working.

The graduation rate for African American undergrads who’ve gotten scholarships and mentorship through a program called La-STEM is 86 percent — by comparison, it was just 60 percent for the LSU campus overall among last spring’s cohort.

Warner is now Vice Chancellor of Strategic Initiatives and Boyd Professor of analytical and environmental chemistry.

As an African American growing up in Bunkie, his enthusiasm for science was unusual — to say the least.

Imagine this: it’s a cool autumn Saturday night, and there’s no football in Tiger Stadium. In fact, there’s no LSU football at all, because the state’s flagship university is closed for the year. LSU System President F. King Alexander says the possibility is real.

“This budget reduction is so large, we’d have to furlough everybody for an entire year,” Alexander told the Baton Rouge Press Club Monday.

Getawaypaul27 / Wikimedia

LSU football is worth $103 million, according to a new valuation in Forbes magazine, reports.

That makes the Tigers the 5th-most valuable team in college football.

Texas led the way with a team worth $131 million, followed by Notre Dame, Michigan and Alabama.

Forbes said the team has revenue of $88 million and a profit of $50 million. The magazine gave LSU high marks for its contract, which sends $7.2 million back to the school each year.

To keep a better eye on head injuries in the past, the LSU football team has had concussion detectors installed in players’ helmets. This season, LSU became the first team in the NCAA to try high-tech mouth guards to measure hits.

An employee at Louisiana State University who trained Liberian police on using protective clothing has been asked to stay off campus for three weeks.

It’s during that time frame when the Ebola virus symptoms could develop.

The Department of Health and Hospitals says it's calling him twice daily for random temperature checks.

Spokeswoman Olivia Watkins says the man knows the virus' symptoms. She says he’s not at risk because he did not have contact with any infected people.

Louisiana's legislature passed a law in 2013 prompting all state colleges and universities to go tobacco-free by Aug. 1 of this year. It's been almost two months now since tobacco products have officially been banned on LSU's Baton Rouge campus. 

The New Orleans Saints suffered another disappointing loss on Sunday, this time in Cleveland.

The Cleveland Browns have bested the Saints in five of their past six matchups. On Sunday the Saints were done in by another late field goal, this time a 29-yarder with three seconds to play in regulation. The final score: 26 to 24.

One highlight: Quarterback Drew Brees passed John Elway, moving into fourth place on the NFL’s all-time list for passing yards.