Matthew Altier, President & CEO, LSU Health Foundation, leads one of the most innovative and forward-thinking higher education non-profits in the country. The Foundation is proud of its achievements and freely shares its ideas and approaches with other organizations seeking to accomplish similar goals. Matthew’s creative thinking and strategic vision propelled the Foundation to new heights and directions, even during the global pandemic.
Matthew is a true catalyst for change. At the Foundation, he builds a sympathetic, supportive workplace environment, allowing his employees to express themselves and take risks. When he took over as CEO, he updated the Articles of Incorporation and organizational By-Laws with the support of the Foundation Board, outlining a new direction for the Foundation. He created a new business venture program and hired a small team to creatively problem solve in helping the university which the Foundation supports. This led to new, multi-million-dollar projects like new student residential accommodations on campus and other large-scale public-private partnerships, increasing the Foundation’s total assets to more than $200 million within just 48 months.
Matthew is unconventional and encompassing in his thinking. “We’re showcasing what’s possible when barriers between the public and private sectors are broken down, and how collaborative ideas can turn into genuine, winning partnerships,” says Matthew. Matthew’s proposal to renovate and turn a derelict building on campus into a modern skilled nursing centre for the elderly is a good example. This project not only provides real-world geriatric training opportunities for health students, but also serves the community while generating new cash flow revenue for both the Foundation and the University.
His ten years in the US Air Force and over 30 years in executive level university roles have given him the knowledge to face challenging situations. For instance, Matthew brought his idea of bridging the gap between students looking for part-time work/jobs while in school and the business sector looking for good employees in the New Orleans region to fruition, all under the supervision of the Foundation. This project has the potential to increase opportunities across the state, benefiting thousands of students and hundreds of employers while also raising new funds for the Foundation.
Another simple but effective project was the use of underutilized parking garage space in the Foundation building’s base for two restaurants. They were developed through a public/private partnership and are providing new privately operated eating options to students and the university community for the first time in over 30 years. The restaurants are also generating new revenue for the Foundation.
Matthew brought public and private partners together and acquired a piece of land near campus, and coordinated the financing and construction of a $102 million state-of-the-art student and faculty communal residence apartment living centre, which will open in the spring of 2023. Despite the fact that no state or Foundation money was used, a decades-old issue was resolved to the benefit of the LSU Health Center, its students and its staff.
Further, he says, a large 29-acre university-affiliated retirement community is being built on the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain which will incorporate a similar training model into a world-class living community in a beautiful location and infuse new cash flow into the Foundation, which will mostly most be used for cancer research.
Other Dental School and Baton Rouge medical school residential housing projects are in the planning stage. We’re also in discussions with private developers about designing, constructing, and operating a world-class hotel and conference centre for the entire medical campus, which will include a modern faculty club, adds Matthew. In addition, we are constructing a first-of-its-kind higher education consortium for medical training, which will include collaborations with a number of public and private schools and universities, says Matthew.
The stats reveal the significant accomplishments in the last 48 months: the Foundation’s overall assets have expanded by 50%, private capital investments increased by more than 100%, including the $102 million for the student housing project. Donations have increased by more than 40%, investments in faculty research and start-up companies have also been made, student scholarships have almost doubled, real estate assets have increased by more than 80%, and the Foundation has created 12 new limited liability corporations to handle all of the operational growth.
Creating these kinds of programs, initiatives, and alliances isn’t easy. Any new venture, especially one that is a first, can cause concern among both internal and external stakeholders. In order to move forward, it necessitates a lot of patience, as well as various viewpoint presentations and explanations. Success generates success, and persistence is vital, adds Matthew.