Former state legislator unanimously chosen
By: Derek J. Amaya
Ruston Daily Leader
Former state legislator Rick Gallot, of Gramblng, is the new president of Grambling State University.
Gallot, 50, was unanimously selected as the school’s 10th president Tuesday during a special meeting of the University of Louisiana Board of Supervisors in Baton Rouge. The former state senator, representative and GSU alumnus was one of the two finalists for the job.
Gallot’s selection comes 26 days after former GSU President Willie Larkin resigned after one year on the job.
“We have a lot of work to do and I am looking forward to getting that work done,” Gallot said. “At Grambling State’s core, we are strong. We just need some fine tuning, but I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Dan Reneau, UL System interim president, said during Tuesday’s meeting GSU has had 10 presidents in 25 years, which is not stability.
“It’s been a revolving door,” he said. “They needed a leader right now to handle their personnel, budget and faculty challenges. They need a leader. Rick has all the characteristics to bring the university back to stability.”
In order to find Larkin’s successor as quickly as possible, the UL board voted to suspend the policy and procedures memorandum that generally guides it in conducting nationwide searches for university presidents.
Reneau said the board’s decision to suspend its rules is not uncommon.
Gallot said his connections with state lawmakers will benefit the university.
“We will have access to state law decision makers,” said Gallot, who served 12 years in the state House of Representatives and four years in the state Senate. “We will be able to build relationships with the right staff persons to benefit the university.”
Gallot said he will quickly move to a number of projects such as reopening the undergraduate nursing program that was shut down in 2015 and improving the communications department to connect more with the media and spread the GSU brand.
Gallot also said he wants to engage with the alumni associations and student organizations to receive their input on moving forward.
“I want to get moving fast,” he said.
Gallot said his plans to increase student enrollment includes finding the right conversations as it relates to GSU where good things come out of the university and also start an aggressive social media campaign.
“We want to show perspective students the positive image of the university and make sure we engage with them on a daily basis,” he said.
Herbert Simmons, GSU Faculty Senate president, said the faculty is excited about working with Gallot and pledge to work along side him.
“(The faculty) plans on meeting with Gallot to voice our concerns about issues in the university,” Simmons said. “We’re concerned about enrollment. We’re concerned about athletics. We feel confident working with him to ensure success.”
Simmons said he is praying Gallot is the right person for the job and said it will take teamwork to get the university back on track.
“We’ve been knocked down, but we can get back up,” he said.
Liz White, Ruston chapter president of the GSU alumni association, said she is filled with pride after Gallot’s selection.
“For the first time in history, that I know of, we have a president from the start that knows Grambling,” she said. “He knows its personality, he knows the people.”
White also said she is praying for Gallot and hopes that the alumni and all the university’s stakeholders will throw their support to bring GSU back to great levels.
“Grambling is unique,” she said.
“What makes it unique is its culture. Gallot is familiar with this culture and will build relationships within the university’s community. I just feel he will be right for Grambling and look forward to the longevity he will bring.”
Michael Meadows, GSU student government association president said the student body is excited at the prospect of working with Gallot.
“With the student body and the new president, Grambling State University will advance to the next level that it needs,” he said.
Gallot’s salary and start date have yet to be negotiated.