EDITORIAL: Speak up on search for University of New Orleans’ new leader


Published: Tuesday, September 13, 2011, 8:24 AM

By Editorial page staff, The Times-Picayune

Choosing a new president for the University of New Orleans is clearly a critical step for the school, which is undergoing a transfer from the LSU System to the University of Louisiana System, but hiring the right leader is also crucial for the city. UNO has the potential to play a key role in New Orleans’ recovery; indeed, the city needs a strong public research entity to act as an economic catalyst.

University of New Orleans Masters of Business Administration graduate Bridget Bivona, left, helps MBA Ashley Renee Black, right, put on a sash for graduation at UNO Lakefront Arena in May 2009

But whether UNO realizes that potential will depend heavily on who is at the helm. UNO, which has been without permanent leadership since the departure of Tim Ryan last year, needs a president with the energy, vision and experience to boost enrollment, improve the graduation rate and nurture research programs that will help the university and, in turn, the metro area.

A committee, chaired by UL system President Randy Moffett and made up of nine members of the UL system Board of Supervisors and four UNO representatives, has been charged with the crucial task of hiring UNO’s president. The panel will hold all its meetings in public on the UNO campus, and that commitment to transparency is encouraging.

The first session will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in the Homer Hitt Alumni Center on campus. The committee will discuss the search itself and its schedule. A public forum is also on the agenda, beginning at 1 p.m. It’s a good sign that the committee is providing an opportunity for the public to weigh in at its very first meeting, and New Orleanians should seize that chance.

After languishing in the LSU system, UNO should gain the autonomy and resources it needs to thrive. Hiring the right president should ensure that UNO makes the most of that opportunity.