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.

As the search for the next LSU president continues, members of the LSU community are outlining what attributes they want their next leader to embody.

LSU hired Parker Executive Search Nov. 13 to handle the search. After developing a position description and creating a new website for the search, Parker Executive Search is now compiling a pool of candidates from a myriad of backgrounds. From this pool, the company will narrow down the list of candidates to seven or eight individuals that the LSU Presidential Search Committee will conduct further interviews with and ultimately choose the next president from. 

Student Body Vice President Hannah Barrios, who serves on the Presidential Search Committee, said it's important to her that the next LSU president be attentive to students on campus and routinely listen to their concerns. 

"I want the future president to be present with students and active on our campus," Barrios said. "I think to be connected to the spirit of the campus they must be in student organization meetings, having lunch with students and making a conscious effort to stay engaged. I want the next president to prioritize our academics and understand the importance of student retention. The next president should lead by example and know when to step back and listen." 

Civil engineering freshman Carter Alphonso said he would like to see a younger president – ideally someone under 50 – who shares the ideals and values of the students, rather than someone older who could be out of touch with how college students feel. 

"I think we need somebody for [the students] and not for profit," Alphonso said. 

Pre-medical nutrition sciences sophomore Mattie Robison said she believes it's important for the next president to address issues of diversity and the previous mishandling of sexual assault cases, and that the solutions should go beyond the surface level.

"I would hope for someone willing to put a people-pleasing image aside in order to take action and use their position of leadership to create true solutions for students' concerns," Robison said.

Barrios said she is pleased with the work Parker Executive Search has completed thus far, nothing that they're paying close attention to the feedback the committee received from the LSU community in their listening sessions.  

"I feel confident in the criteria Parker Executive Search is using, as they are using the job description and attributes that we created as a committee," Barrios said. "That criteria was developed in response to the survey feedback and campus listening sessions, all of which Parker took part in. They understand what we are looking for and what we need at this time." 

In a Jan. 14 meeting, Parker Executive Search detailed their plan to incorporate diversity into the search process. Parker Executive Search President Laurie Wilder noted that while the pool of candidates is not currently diverse in terms of gender and underrepresented groups, by the time the full list of candidates is finalized on March 15 there will be over 100 applicants with hopefully a higher representation of diverse groups. Wilder said diversity is a factor they're taking into great consideration. 

"I'm hoping that the pool is diverse and that the best person comes out of that pool," Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Dereck Rovaris said. "If that person happens to be diverse, that's great. If it's someone who comes with a lot of experience in diversity work but doesn't represent a lot of diversity, that's fine too. I would really like for the process to be fair and inclusive." 

Rovaris said it's important to him and the LSU community that the next president is fully committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. He said if they are not, LSU would no longer be a place he wanted to work. 

Barrios echoed Rovaris' sentiment.

"It is important to me that they make a commitment to making our campus more equitable in all aspects," Barrios said.

Board of Supervisors Chair Robert Dampf explained his vision for the next president in a Jan. 25 Faculty Senate meeting. He said he wants a president who the faculty will respect and will work closely with the students.   

"We want someone who checks the box 'all of the above,'" Dampf said. "I'm excited about our search process. I think we're going to come up with a dynamic leader that will really be exactly what LSU is looking for." 

Dampf said that while he is not on the Presidential Search Committee, he has appointed 20 individuals for consideration. Anyone can nominate a potential candidate by visiting the LSU presidential search website. 

Parker Executive Search also created a survey form to learn from the LSU community what it wants in its next president. The survey can be accessed on the presidential search website under the "participate in the process" tab. 

"The presidential role is extremely important to me," Barrios said. "The president is the chief executive for our campus. They are looked up to by faculty, staff, students, the LSU system and the state of Louisiana to represent their interests and to advance our campus. It is not a role to be taken lightly." 

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