A University of Louisiana search committee on Thursday picked one candidate from a pool of 16 to interview next week for the vacant system president job.
The five-member UL System Presidential Review Committee named Sandra K. Woodley as the lone finalist for the job after reviewing the candidates for nearly 21/2 hours in a closed-door discussion.
Woodley was one of three candidates recommended by the Washington, D.C.-based R.H. Perry and Associates firm. Committee member Andre Coudrain said she had the best skill set for the job.
Woodley, who is the University of Texas System’s vice chancellor for strategic initiatives, wrote in an email Thursday night, “I look forward to my conversations next week with with the leadership of the University of Louisiana System.”
Presidential Review Committee Chairman Wayne Parker said that although Woodley is the only finalist, it is not a given that she will be offered the job when the UL Board of Supervisors meets to interview her Nov. 9.
Parker said the application process will remain open should Woodley not meet expectations before adding that he is very comfortable with having chosen only one candidate.
“She has a lot of system experience, and her career has been one in which she’s distinguished herself,” Parker said.
Woodley earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in business administration from Auburn University in Montgomery, Ala., before earning a doctorate in business administration management from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Parker said he thinks Woodley will be a good fit because of her background in finance and her higher education work history spanning several states.
Before joining the UT System, Woodley worked as a strategic planner and chief financial officer for the Arizona Board of Regents; vice president of finance, planning and performance for the Kentucky council on postsecondary education; and as the associate executive director of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education.
Her financial experience could prove invaluable at a time when state support for higher education has been slashed by more than $426 million since 2008.
The UL System has seen state funding decrease by $210 million during the same period, with more cuts likely on the horizon as the Legislature and Gov. Bobby Jindal haggle year after year to balance the state budget.
On her application, Woodley plays up her experience in working with state government.
“My background as a staffer for the Alabama Legislature provided a unique and valuable perspective for understanding the legislative process and the importance of connecting with legislative leadership. My role has always involved working closely with governors and their staffs ... ” she wrote.
If Woodley is the pick, she will succeed Randy Moffett, who retired Sept. 15 after a 41-year career in higher education, including four years at the top of the Louisiana’s largest college and university systems.
The UL System president is responsible for more than 92,000 students enrolled at colleges including the University of New Orleans, Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, McNeese State University in Lake Charles and Louisiana Tech University in Ruston.
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