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Tuesday, August 21, 2018
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Louisiana Public Square
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Panelist Bio


Thomas Layzell
Board of Regents consultant

Thomas Layzell has served over 40 years in a variety of positions in public higher education and has been a system head since 1984, serving as Executive Director and Chancellor of the Illinois Board of Governors of State Colleges and Universities from 1984 to 1995 and the Commissioner of Higher Education in Mississippi from 1995 to 2003, before coming to Kentucky as President of the Council.

Layzell retired as President of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education on April 15, 2007. Under his leadership, more people than ever before enrolled in postsecondary and adult education and earning degrees, certificates and diplomas. In 2005, the Council announced a preliminary 19 percent increase in the number of degrees conferred by the public colleges and universities.

Earlier I nhis career, he worked at Governors State University in University Park, Illinois, from 1969 to 1976, advancing to the position of Vice President for Administration. He also served as a staff member at the Illinois Board of Higher Education from 1966 – 1969.

Layzell earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, and both a Juris Doctorate in law and a Master’s of Arts in Public Administration from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

Current Topic


     08/18 - The Power of Reading

How can we make inroads to improve adult literacy in Louisiana and champion a joy of reading from pre-school into adulthood?
The ability to read sets the foundation of who we are and what we can be. Through reading we expand our world, learn new things and increase our base of knowledge. In fact, a parent’s reading level is the greatest factor in a child’s academic success. Children who can’t read proficiently by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.

In Louisiana, 20 percent of adults are illiterate – five points higher than the national rate. How is Louisiana combatting its illiteracy problem across generational lines? How can we make inroads to improve adult literacy in Louisiana and champion a joy of reading from pre-school into adulthood?

Louisiana Public Square: The Power of Reading looks for answers and explores the value of lifelong reading through the lens of the PBS series The Great American Read Wednesday, August 22 at 7pm on LPB and in New Orleans on WLAE. (Recorded Tuesday, August 14 in the Magnolia Performing Arts Pavilion at Baton Rouge Community College.)

Our panelists are:
- Linda-Marie Barrett, Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA)
- Rebecca Hamilton, MLIS; Louisiana State Librarian
- Danny Heitman; Journalist and Louisiana author
- Miranda Restovic, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH).
- Gary Robertson; Adult Literacy Advocates

The program features interviews with John Cavalier, owner of Cavalier House Books; Gary Robertson, Executive Director of Adult Literacy Advocates; representatives from the LEH PRIME TIME intergenerational reading program, and Superintendent John White with the Louisiana Department of Education.

LPB CEO Beth Courtney and Robyn Merrick, Southern University VP of External Affairs, host the show.

Louisiana Public Square can also be heard on public radio stations WRKF in Baton Rouge; Red River Radio in Shreveport and Monroe; and WWNO in New Orleans. Check their station websites for schedule.

This episode of Louisiana Public Square is underwritten by Community Coffee’s Cash for Schools Program, the Louisiana Forestry Association, LSU Press and the Southern Independent Booksellers’ Authors Round the South.

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Special Presentation


     05/16 - Louisiana Veterans Coming Home

What challenges do our returning veterans face?

Coming Soon!


     09/18 - Revisiting Reform

Are the criminal justice reforms working as intended?

Recent Topics


     07/18 - Preventing Suicide

How is Louisiana addressing its suicide problem?

     06/18 - Louisiana: Sportsman’s Paradise or Problem?  (ENCORE)

Is Louisiana a Sportsman’s Paradise or Problem?

     05/18 - News About the News

How can viewers distinguish between fact and fake news and is social media blurring the difference?

     04/18 - Balancing Eldercare

How much does Louisiana spend on nursing homes versus home and community-based care?
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