EDITORIAL: Good start at GSU

Monroe News Star

They came, they listened, they left.

In short, that was the schedule last week for the University of Louisiana System’s presidential search committee for Grambling State University. But it doesn’t tell the whole story.

The search committee came despite the threat of impending snow that shut down not only public facilities around the region, but closed GSU’s campus itself an hour before the public hearing even began. Credit the committee members for toughing it out and making themselves available to the 200 people who attended this important, initial meeting.

Search committee members listened — listened! — to what alumni, community members, faculty and students had to say about what they want in GSU’s next president. That in itself is of no small comfort to those who may have felt as if they have not been listened to at their cherished Grambling. It does not mean that committee members will agree with everything or anything said, but it does mean that people who love Grambling the most have had input into the process. That should be a great salve to any emotional wounds that have been inflicted on any of the Grambling faithful in the past.

Prominent among needs cited by those attending the meeting is a president who communicates well with faculty and staff, students and community. The tenure of former GSU president Horace Judson — and Judson had his strengths — was marked by complaints that he failed to communicate well his vision for Grambling and failed to listen to others.

Others in the audience asked for a president who might remain at Grambling’s helm for longer than a few years. Judson stayed at GSU for five years, about the average tenure for college presidents nowadays. But Grambling’s first two presidents, Charles P. Adams and Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones, were the campus’ only two presidents from its founding in 1901 into the 1970s. At Grambling, they appreciate longevity.

Whomever eventually is chosen to lead Grambling, no president is likely to satisfy all of Grambling’s diverse stakeholders. The most realistic hope for campuses is that each campus president will exercise his own strengths on the campus, lending a progressive stability to the campus environment.

This process of selection for a campus leader is both inclusive and proven. The UL System leadership has begun this important search in a manner that shows respect to all the campus’ constituents, and positions that board to make a final decision based on comprehensive input and knowledge.

We applaud this promising start to this most important search.

The editorials in this column represent the opinions of The News-Star’s editorial board, composed of President and Publisher David B. Petty, Executive Editor Kathy Spurlock, Managing Editor Ken Stickney and community representatives Don Coker, Laura Kilpatrick Marchelos and Annmarie Sartor