LSU’s presidential search committee picked a Dallas-based firm on Friday to recruit candidates in what has been estimated will be a six-month search.
LSU and its associated foundations will pay R. Williams Funk & Associates $120,000 plus expenses to lead the search.
The firm, which recently recruited Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels to become president of Purdue University, has finished seven searches in the last 60 days, President Bill Funk told the committee Friday.
LSU has been without a leader since the Board of Supervisors fired John Lombardi in April.
Some board members said Lombardi’s brash style was compromising their clout with the state Legislature.
The person selected 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.
LSU is also looking for someone to lead the Baton Rouge campus after Chancellor Michael Martin accepted an offer to become the head of the Colorado State University System in May.
Blake Chatelain, chairman of the LSU System Presidential Search Committee, didn’t rule out the possibility of combining the president and chancellor positions.
LSU has already contracted with the Washington, D.C.-based AGB consulting firm to help shape the parameters of the search. The firm was in Baton Rouge in late June interviewing faculty, deans and alumni to collect input on the type of leader best suited to run the LSU System.
The firm previously came to Baton Rouge in 2006 to work on a prior presidential search at which time the idea of merging the two positions was also discussed.
LSU’s search panel bypassed AGB’s recruiting arm, AGB Search, on Friday in favor of the Dallas company with committee members saying they felt more comfortable with Funk.
On Friday, Funk suggested LSU start with identifying between 20 and 30 prospects but cautioned that candidate pools are smaller than in the past. Ideal selections are candidates who aren’t looking for jobs, but rather, a person that has to be actively recruited, he said.
One major concern LSU will have to deal with is the state’s expected loss of more than $300 million in Medicaid funding, much of which will impact the LSU System, Funk said.
LSU’s hospital system has the potential to bring in dollars through science and technology grants, but could also prove to be a headache for any new president, Funk said.
Another consideration for LSU is the balancing act of keeping the public informed while granting candidates privacy. The best candidates also are particularly concerned with confidentiality, he said.
“They have more to lose. They don’t want to do anything to jeopardize anything back home,” Funk said.
During a roughly 90-minute question-and-answer session, committee member Ann Duplessis, of New Orleans, questioned Funk about nontraditional candidates.
Funk said he’s expecting more schools around the country to look at candidates with varied backgrounds not necessarily in education.
The role of a system president is less about academia and more about looking for grants and thinking about the big picture, Funk said.
After the meeting, LSU Faculty Senate President Kevin Cope called the discussion of nontraditional candidates troublesome.
“That’s just another way of saying that person has fewer academic qualifications. The faculty needs to see that the board is in favor of someone who represents academic excellence,” Cope said.