BATON ROUGE – The Grambling Search Committee of the University of Louisiana Board of Supervisors heard impassioned pleas from Grambling alumni and advice from the Hollins Group Inc. on Tuesday about the time line for the appointment of the university’s new president.
“Give Grambling State University a chance to survive,” Grambling graduate Willie Hughey said. “Grambling is bleeding. I’m committed to do what it takes to help it survive.”
While alumni and current students urged the committee to abide by the current time line, ULS President Sandra Woodley and the board adopted some flexibility that would allow candidates to have more information about the university’s financial position before their names would be announced publicly.
Although the announcement of the semifinalists was scheduled originally for Tuesday, Lawrence Hollins of the Hollins Group recommended the committee wait for more information on the financial situation of the university.
Hollins explained the mindset of the current applicants and those who might apply in the future. “These people want clarity on budget and the future of the university for themselves and for the leadership team,” he said. “Some are hesitant to apply because of the lack of clarity on the budget.”
The search firm told the committee that there are 37 completed applications for the position, calling the pool “exceptional” given the skepticism over the budget issues.
“The ones best suited are actively employed in higher education, and they are the most hesitant,” he said. “They have to be able to make an argument that where they want to go is at least as good as as where they are, and right now with Grambling, that is difficult.”
Woodley said that even with delaying the announcement of the names, it is possible that the search will conclude at the same time as the original time line, but it depends on what happens in the upcoming session of the Legislature.
“It’s possible that at some point in April there may be a budget bill with enough information that we can give some level of comfort for applicants to remain in the pool and have their names released,” Woodley said.
“You don’t want an individual to come into your place because it’s nice and calm and they’re no struggles,” Grambling alumnus William Hughey said.
Search committee member Edward Crawford noted that the applicants’ concerns over finances were not unique to Grambling.
“If we were hiring a president for any other university across the state you would be having the same problem,” he said. “There is no artificial deadline that will get us the right person. You’ve got to be able to adjust.”
The committee hopes to announce the names of the candidates in May and have on campus interviews in June. They would like the new president to start as soon as possible.
“It is everyone’s goal to select the president as soon as possible, but that can’t come with the risk of not having the best choices,” committee chair Gerald Hebert said.
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