LSU Chancellor Michael Martin said Tuesday night he is being seriously considered for the chancellor position at Colorado State University, and that he will strongly consider it if he is offered the position.
The job offer could be forthcoming in the next couple of weeks, Martin, 65, said in a phone interview. “I think Colorado State is still deciding if a formal offer will be made, and if a formal offer is made, I will formally consider it,” he said.
Colorado State University System spokesman Kyle Henley said the university’s chancellor search committee met Monday night and forwarded one candidate’s name to the CSU System’s Board of Governor’s with a unanimous vote.
Henley said he couldn’t confirm whether Martin is the candidate in question. A special meeting of the board could take place as early as this week, Henley said.
If Martin is on his way out of Baton Rouge, it would be the LSU’s second high-profile departure of the spring.
The LSU Board of Supervisors fired System President John Lombardi on a 12-4 vote April 27. Some Board members said Lombardi’s brash style was hurting their political clout with the state Legislature.
The board lured ex-president William Jenkins, 75, out of retirement to serve as interim head of LSU’s $3.5 billion network of four university campuses, a law school, two medical schools and 10 hospitals across the state.
Around the same time that Lombardi was fired and Jenkins was rehired, there was talk among the LSU system’s higher-ups that Martin could be on his way out too, board member Alvin Kimble said Tuesday.
Kimble said he believes the Louisiana Flagship Coalition, a group of about 50 statewide business leaders that formed last year to support LSU’s main campus in Baton Rouge, was involved.
“I was told that Michael Martin would be the next to go,” Kimble said. “The flagship coalition wants to consolidate positions of the chancellor and the president.” They can’t go looking with a sitting chancellor in place. It looks like the flagship coalition is pursuing their agenda, he said.
Flagship co-Chairman Sean Reilly, of Baton Rouge and also CEO of Lamar Advertising, on Tuesday denied trying to force Martin out.
“I heard that he’d been submitting his name for other positions out of state, but people speculate all the time,” Reilly said. “It would be a great loss for the campus, if he did leave.”
Martin also said that he hasn’t been under any pressure to leave LSU.
“I haven’t looked, but have been approached and listened,” the chancellor said in a text message. “That’s the nature of higher education administration these days.”
Martin further acknowledged the presidency of the LSU System is currently in flux and that there is an effort to merge his post with the president’s position.
But Martin said he believes he would have made a decision about Colorado State well before any decision is made on the long-term future of the LSU System and whether he would be offered the position.
“In no way has the coalition, in any way, influenced where I am today or might go from here,” Martin said in a second text. “If I leave, it will be for a pull, not a push.”
Martin, who has about one year left on his contract, said ongoing state budget cuts to LSU and all of higher education over the last three years have played a factor in his possible departure.
The state’s four higher education systems have weathered nearly $100 million in state cuts going back to last year, with more possibly on the way.
Martin, a former New Mexico State University President, was the only finalist for the job to lead LSU’s main campus in the spring of 2008.
He took over the job in August of that year after agreeing to a five-year deal with a $400,000 base salary. The contract included deferred payments that would increase his total compensation to $525,000 per year, if he stays at LSU through 2013.
Jordan Blum of and Marsha Shuler of the Capitol news bureau contributed to this report.