LSU at Night

The bell tower clock stands tall Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020 from the top of the Barnes & Noble at LSU parking garage on E Campus Drive.

The LSU Presidential Search Committee held its first meeting Thursday and unanimously voted to recommend the search for a single, unified president to the Board of Supervisors. 

The committee discussed the leadership structure of the University and a timeline for the search. The committee plans to begin looking at applicants in January. Subcommittees tasked to define the president's job description and identify search firm for the applicant process were also created at the meeting. The discussion of a budget was tabled until the cost of a search firm is determined.

The committee is chaired by Former Board of Supervisors Chair James Williams. Williams praised the diversity of the committee and said the goal of the committee is to provide a result that everyone can rally behind and be proud of.

The committee unanimously moved to recommend to the Board of Supervisors be for a unified president-chancellor position. LSU-Shreveport Chancellor Larry Clark voiced his support for this decision.

"I believe, and I think my colleague chancellors believe that having one individual do both is in fact something that is capable of being done by a well-skilled individual," Clark said. "I'm not aware of a chancellor who would encourage me to say differently."

Board of Supervisors Immediate Past-Chair Mary Werner said she became a Board member in 2017, well into the University leadership structure as it is now, and voiced her support for the unified position.

"I would be inclined to say that our structure as it is now, for several reasons. . . politically, fiscally and in the arena of the public, is a structure that I believe is working and can continue to work," Werner said.

Board of Supervisors Chair Robert Dampf said he agreed with the committee's decision and he expects the Board of Supervisors to agree.

"It creates more uniformity, it saves money, it allows us to be a little more nimble," Dampf said. 

Gov. John Bel Edwards said he preferred a single leader for the leader of the University system on his weekly radio show, just one day before the committee was set to meet for the first time according to the Advocate.

Werner said Edwards' statement on University leadership structure surprised her.

"I was a little surprised that he made that announcement because the governor has been very hands-off when I was Chair," Werner said. "His charge is always 'I want y'all to do your job to the best of your ability with your knowledge base and that's why I chose you to serve in this position.'"

Williams said he was shocked that he was unable to find an already existing detailed and complete job description for President of LSU. He created a subcommittee charged with defining this job description, chaired by Search Committee Vice Chair Gabriela Gonzalez.

There was no opposition within the committee about engaging a search firm for the presidential search. A subcommittee chaired by Werner was formed to identify search firm candidates.

Williams said the original timeline posed by Dampf was the end of the year, which Williams described as "ambitious." He said he hopes to finish the "interest process" by the end of the year and start receiving applicants in January.

Commissioner of Agriculture Jay Dardenne, who was expected to apply for the position, said he is no longer interested because it appears the University is no longer hiring two candidates and will keep the combined position, according to the Advocate.

"I don't know that [Dardenne] will apply for the job, I don't want to speak for him," Dampf said. 

Former LSU President F. King Alexander left the University Dec. 15 and entered his new role as president at Oregon State July 1. Thomas Galligan, dean of the Paul M. Hebert Law Center, has served as interim president since Jan. 1. 

Galligan previously told the Reveille he has no intention of seeking the permanent role of president, but since has changed his mind on the possibility of keeping the role.

"I got the bug," Galligan said. "I'm infected with the spirit of [the position] so I'm interested."

Werner said she was not surprised by Galligan's announcement. Dampf said Galligan has done a "fantastic job" as interim president and would make an "excellent" candidate, but said there will be many "excellent" candidates.

Galligan said when he first stepped into the position of Interim President he knew he wanted to get back to the Law Center. He said he still does want to return to the Law Center "someday," but he has enjoyed the experience as interim president and is interested in the full-time position.

LSU Student Government Vice President Hannah Barrios serves on the committee. She said she is honored to represent students on the committee.

"I want [students] to know that I'm listening to them, and I want to hear what they have to say and I am so open to feedback," Barrios said. "I'm always open to getting your emails, your feedback, what you want to see in the next president."

The LSU Board of Supervisors announced that a search committee was created to select the University's next president in a press release Oct. 14. The committee includes representatives from all LSU campuses within the LSU system. 

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