The University of Louisiana System on Thursday initiated an expedited national search to find a new president by the end of August, when current UL System President Randy Moffett is expected to step down.
The UL System includes nine public colleges, including Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the University of New Orleans, McNeese State University in Lake Charles and Nicholls State University in Thibodaux.
The system’s executive committee met Thursday and quickly approved what board Chairman Wayne Parker called “an ambitious schedule” to have a new president in place just seven weeks after Moffett’s retirement announcement.
Parker called picking a new president “the single most important responsibility” the board has.
During the meeting, board member E. Gerald Hebert said the UL System would take an approach different from the LSU System, which is also looking for a new president after the April firing of John Lombardi.
Hebert said LSU has a track record of zeroing in on one candidate.
“I think LSU will spot someone and then go get ‘em,” Hebert said.
While the two systems are in roughly the same position, the different approaches to fill the top executive position are likely to have stark differences.
LSU has a former president in William Jenkins serving in an interim role, giving the system more time to find Lombardi’s replacement.
LSU Board member Blake Chatelain said last week that his most optimistic bet would be to have a new president in place by January.
So far, the LSU board has named a six-person search team and hired a consulting firm to find a new leader.
Whomever they choose will be in charge of LSU’s $3.5 billion network of four university campuses, a law school, two medical schools, 10 hospitals and dozens of outpatient medical clinics across Louisiana.
In contrast, the UL System is planning to keep Moffett involved in the search for his replacement.
Moffett, 65, announced his retirement last week after more than 40 years in higher education and four as the system chief.
Parker said the UL System will rely on their “tried and true” process that’s been in place for more than a decade.
The process includes appointing an Application Review Committee, posting all applications on the system’s website plus conducting all interviews and all candidate votes in public.
The process started Thursday with placing advertisements in a local newspaper and on higher education websites.
Parker appointed himself and board members Andre Coudrain, Jimmy Faircloth Jr., Jimmie “Beau” Martin and Russell Mosely to serve on the review committee.
Parker assured the other board members that despite the swift pace of the search, the committee would not hesitate to extend it if needed. Moffett has agreed to stay on the job into September if needed, Parker said.
“If we’re uncomfortable with the quality of the applicants, we’ll think of other ways,” Parker said. “Let me be clear, expedition will not overcome quality.’
The public is encouraged to submit comments and questions to the board via email at ULSPresidentialSearch@la.gov.