LSU Chancellor Michael Martin has been named the finalist for the same position at Colorado State University by the system’s Board of Governors.
Martin, however, said he has neither decided to leave Baton Rouge nor has Colorado State University, called CSU, extended a formal offer for him to lead their three-campus system.
If he did leave, Martin said, he would not go until mid-August — far enough into the fiscal year to help with the budget.
The Colorado State University board is mandated by state law to wait two weeks before extending an offer, Martin said. He was recommended to the Board of Governors by an 11-member committee that spent nearly eight months conducting a nationwide search to fill the chancellor position, Kyle Henley, a system spokesman, said in a news release.
He would succeed Joe Blake, who stepped down as chancellor in December.
Informal talks between the two parties started in December, before getting more serious in early January, when Martin said he made his first of three trips to Fort Collins, Colo. During one trip he met with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.
“Up until now, it’s largely been them examining me. Now I can begin to talk more deeply with them,” Martin said. “I’m going to compare the adventure I could have with them with the adventure I’m having right now at LSU.”
Martin, 65, said he has had only preliminary talks with Colorado State about the direction of the system and what his pay package would look like.
Martin has a five-year contract with LSU that pays a $400,000 base salary. The contract includes deferred payments that would increase his total compensation to $525,000 per year provided he stays in Baton Rouge through 2013.
Martin had been president of New Mexico State University, in Las Cruces, N.M., when he was named the only finalist for the LSU job.
If Martin does take the post in Colorado, he would be stepping into a situation starkly different from the one he would be leaving.
His tenure at LSU’s main campus, beginning in 2008, coincides with the current period of massive budget slashing from the state.
“To date, we’ve seen $92 million in cuts since I started,” Martin said. “Maybe it’s symbolic because I started two weeks after Hurricane Gustav. Since then, it’s been one storm after another. It has been challenging.”
LSU has had success raising money and becoming more efficient during these lean budget times, Martin said. But struggling to maintain programs and having to lay people off, “takes a toll,” he said.
In contrast, Martin acknowledged that leaving for Colorado State University “would be stepping into a situation that’s better financially.”
The Colorado State system has three campuses, including the flagship in Fort Collins, CSU-Pueblo and CSU-Global, their online campus.
The university, which has about 30,000 students, was ranked 128th in the 2012 Best Colleges in National Colleges, the U.S. News and World Reports annual listing.
The system launched its CSU-Global online campus five years ago, making the school more viable, he said.
“They came out of the economic doldrums. They seem to be in pretty good shape,” Martin said. “Their faculty is getting raises this year. You’re always more popular as an administrator when people get raises every once in a while.”
This isn’t Martin’s first opportunity to leave for Fort Collins.
Martin said he declined an opportunity to become the president of CSU’s Fort Collins campus about 10 years ago, but kept in touch with people there.
LSU was supposed to be Martin’s last job before retiring after a more than 40-year career in higher education, he said.
“The last four years, I thought I’d hang it up at (age) 66, but I don’t feel that way anymore. There’s still some more tread on the tires,” Martin said.
Martin’s possible departure comes less than two weeks after the LSU Board of Supervisors fired System President John Lombardi on a 12-4 vote April 27.
Some board members said they could no longer trust in Lombardi to effectively advance their agenda with the state Legislature.
Lombardi’s interim replacement, William Jenkins, said this week that he won’t begin preparing to find an interim chancellor until Martin indicates that he’s leaving.