EDITORIAL: Don’t muddy GSU Search

Shreveport Times

Last week’s decision to pause the search for a president of Grambling State University risks confusing a process that doesn’t need any complications.

Rather than count as a blessing the presence of a stable interim president to help Grambling State navigate accreditation, budget and staffing challenges, the Grambling State University Presidential Search Committee used that as a reason to suspend the search. Less clear is why continuing the process interferes with or undermines Interim President Frank Pogue’s so far impressive efforts to stabilize a troubled campus.

If he’s becoming a candidate for the job, great. Pogue’s competency on the job will only enhance his stature.

He’s no stranger to the dynamics of being an interim president, having served in that role last year at Chicago State University. And because a thorough search could take months, why not keep pushing ahead?

Pogue, 71, a veteran educator who retired in 2007 after 11 years as president of Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, was touted at Friday’s meeting as a much-needed breath of fresh air in the wake of Horace Judson’s controversial five-year tenure. Those years were marked by struggles with vocal alumni groups who have, at times, had too much influence over the school. Of more concern were his strained relations with faculty and students. Those groups complained about Judson’s isolation and remote management style.

At Friday’s meeting, various committee members lauded Pogue, who only first stepped onto the campus Dec. 10. He was called a strong communicator who has made good hires and “changed the feeling on campus.”

But we think faculty representative Matthew Ware, who acknowledged being of “three minds” on the decision to suspend the search, hit on a key point.

“A lot of Grambling alums feel we have the leader we need,” he said at the meeting. “But we need a formal process because there are people of another mind, and there needs to be buy-in.”

Short-circuiting the search so early in the name of stability could put off those “people of another mind.” They’ll be needed when it’s time to build unity behind an eventual nominee.

In its vote Friday, the search committee also charged University of Louisiana System President Randy Moffett to come back with a detailed recommendation on how to move forward. Perhaps that should be to give Pogue a vote of confidence. Assure him the freedom to make necessary decisions to get Grambling State back on an even academic keel.

Or be more transparent about laying the groundwork for giving him the job. Otherwise, keep the search engine running.