The University’s Board of Supervisors voted Thursday to appoint William F. Tate IV as the University’s next president. The search for an individual to permanently fulfill the presidential position began in November with the creation of the Presidential Search Committee.
Tate will become the University’s first African American president while concurrently becoming the first African American president in the Southeastern Conference.
Gov. John Bel Edwards released a statement congratulating Tate following his selection and acknowledged the significance of the moment for Louisiana.
“This is a historic moment for the Louisiana State University system, as Dr. Tate will become the University’s first African American president and also the first African American university president in the Southeastern Conference,” Edwards said. “I share this goal of making higher education more accessible to students from all walks of life and all areas of our state and beyond and in growing the system’s prominence and I welcome his experience, vision and insight. I congratulate Dr. Tate.”
Previously serving as the dean of the graduate school at Washington University in St. Louis for 18 years, Tate's most recent position was at the University of South Carolina where he had been the provost for the last year.
Tate will overtake the presidential role permanently, replacing Thomas Galligan, who assumed the presidential role in an interim capacity January 2020. Galligan initially expressed interest in being appointed permanently to the presidential position but withdrew his name from the search on April 20.
The Presidential Search Committee initially received 23 applicants detailing their qualifications to become president of the state’s flagship university, but the committee members opted to allow applications to be accepted later then they had initially planned. This decision allowed Tate to submit his application and enter the search process, with the committee unanimously voting to allow Tate to be included in the interview process.
The committee further narrowed the search down to three finalists who each toured various University campuses and met with students, staff and faculty in the days preceding the final day of interviews conducted by the Board of Supervisors.
The other two finalists were Jim Henderson, who has been the University of Louisiana System president since 2017, and Kelvin Droegemeier, who worked as a scientific advisor the White House during former President Trump’s administration.
Search Committee Chair James Williams made a statement immediately prior to the start of the finalist interviews detailing the process and noting the effort the committee made to be transparent regarding the executive search.
“This has been a very transparent process,” Williams said, “which yielded three extraordinary candidates.”
The effort to remain transparent throughout the executive search process comes after the Board of Supervisors received controversy during the last presidential search for their refusal to release the names of the finalists that former University president F. King Alexander faced when vying for the presidential position in 2013.
Andrea Gallo, former Editor of Chief of The Reveille during the time of Alexander’s selection as president, sued the University to obtain access to the names of the other finalists in the 2013 presidential search.
This months-long executive search process culminated Thursday with the University’s Board of Supervisors interviewing each of the three candidates before entering an executive session where the board deliberated on the candidates and made their final decision.
Board members were quick to make note to each of the three candidates during their interviews about the University’s ongoing issues with Title IX, an issue that Tate had previously found himself embroiled in at the University of South Carolina.
Tate addressed the issue surrounding Title IX and made it clear that any silence on his behalf is out of respect for the victims.
“What I’m interested in seeing in terms of Title IX is one of a culture in which when someone reports, the assumption is they have been traumatized in some form or fashion,” Tate said. “I have remained silent about all the cases we have dealt with in Title IX. I am not interested in traumatizing anyone else who has been through trauma.”
The newly selected president proposed a necessary transition from the current Title IX practices to one that is more centered around immediately prioritizing addressing the trauma experienced by the victim
“That's where I would start, Tate said, "and anything that's going to be designed if it works that way, it's probably going to be a lot better than the current practice.”
The details around Tate's contract are still being worked out, but Tate said that he hopes to begin working July 2.