Leader search begins


By Jeremy Harper, American Press

BATON ROUGE – The state’s board of higher education tentatively plans to select a new president for McNeese State University in June, according to a timeline announced Friday.

The morning meeting was the first for the University of Louisiana System committee tasked with finding a replacement for retiring President Robert Hebert.

Hebert announced earlier this month that he will step down June 30 after serving 23 years as head of the university.

The search process kicks off at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9, with a public meeting at McNeese to gather community input.

Members of the public can offer their opinions on the qualities they prefer in a new president but will be asked not to lobby for or against specific candidates, said University of Louisiana System President Randy Moffett, head of the search committee.

The plan announced Friday calls for advertisements to run in national and regional publications in March. The committee also plans to tap a national search firm to find potential candidates.

The committee is scheduled in April to select a pool of candidates to interview publicly, and on-campus interviews would take place in May.

The committee would recommend at least two finalists to the 14-member UL System board in June, and the board would conduct final interviews and appoint the new president later that month, according to the plan, which Moffett said could change over time.

“We’re not duty-bound on any of these dates,” he said. “If we think we need to broaden the pool, if we need to expand our advertisements, then we can adjust.”

Interviews will be held on campus and will be open to the public, Moffett said, with each candidate getting at least a day to tour the campus and meet with faculty, staff and community leaders.

Those groups will then provide feedback to the committee about the candidates, and members of the public will have an opportunity to pose questions during the public interviews, Moffett said.

“It’s a very inclusive process from beginning to end,” he said.

Moffett said the system’s most recent presidential search committee – for Southeastern Louisiana University – interviewed five candidates in public before recommending finalists to the full board. The McNeese search will probably follow a similar path, he said.

Moffett said residents have already shown “a lot of interest and a lot of excitement” and asked plenty of questions about how the new president will be chosen.

“The McNeese community has not been through this process in 23 years,” he said.

The committee was joined Friday by the Grambling presidential search committee, but the two groups will work separately going forward.

“Probably this is the most important task that this board has before it,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Winfred Sibille, who will serve on both search committees. “What we do in the next few months will impact the universities that we serve for many years.”