Interim Interview

LSU's Interim President, Tom Galligan sits in his office on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020 during an interview at the University Administrations building on LSU's campus.

LSU Interim President Thomas Galligan is pleased with how the University is handling the COVID-19 pandemic but is unsure how commencement ceremonies or the search for a permanent University president will be affected.

LSU announced the shift to online classes on March 12 and announced that professors will teach remotely Monday. The University urged students living on campus to move home but pledged to accommodate those who cannot leave. Galligan said student and faculty safety is the priority during this time. 

No decisions about commencement ceremonies have been made yet, but the final decision will be based on the nature of COVID-19.

“When we do talk about it, we want to hear the students’ voice albeit remotely, and we’ll make those decisions accordingly,” Galligan said. “Whatever we do, we will try to appropriately honor the class of 2020.”

Galligan said the University began planning for the changes weeks ago and believes the situation has been handled well. 

“We’ve done our best to anticipate as many issues as we possibly could and try to get out in front of them,” Galligan said. “Where something came up that we didn’t expect, we have pivoted, and I think reacted pretty well.”

He said the decision to move classes online came when the administration decided the best way to deal with the situation was to flatten the curve of the virus and get ahead of it. Online classes were determined to be the best way to protect the LSU and Baton Rouge communities.

Galligan has been in contact with the chancellors of the other campuses within the LSU system through the coronavirus outbreak. He also said a team of University leadership meets often to discuss further changes and student safety.

“I’m really proud of the way that our folks have stepped up and planned and implemented,” Galligan said.

Regarding a permanent University president, Galligan said the consultants hired by the Board of Supervisors to study the way the University operates will continue to work remotely rather than in person. He is not sure how COVID-19 will affect the search for a permanent president because the primary concern of the administration is coronavirus containment and treatment.

Galligan said he feels “fine” about holding the position of president during a pandemic, and he is confident because of the leaders he is surrounded by. There isn’t anything he wished the University would have handled differently in the situation.

He said the administration has tried to be transparent during this entire situation and urges the LSU community to continue to read the messages sent out by the administration.

“If people have been reading our messages and checking the website, you already know what we know,” Galligan said.

The University, alongside Galligan, encourages students to go home if they are able. If students must stay on campus, Galligan said the University will provide essential services.

“We do not want this to derail your academic progress, so we’re not going to let that happen,” Galligan said. “If you’re scheduled to graduate in May, we’re doing our darndest to make that happen as well.”

Galligan said his eyes are on the well-being of students and making sure the University is prepared for online classes beginning March 30. He said he is confident that the University is up to speed and ready to go.

“We’re washing our hands, we are sneezing into our elbows and we are social distancing,” Galligan said. “We are working really hard to practice what we’re preaching.”

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