National Search for Permanent Grambling President to Begin in December – Aug 29, 2003
BATON ROUGE, La. — A national search for a permanent president of Grambling State University will begin in December after the university’s accreditation questions are put to rest.
The Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System, which oversees Grambling, agreed today to name a presidential search committee at its December Board meeting.
The Board will begin placing national advertisements for the top Grambling job immediately following the announcement of the university’s accreditation status by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools on December 9. It will then initiate a search that will culminate with a permanent Grambling president on campus by July 1, 2004, if not earlier.
“Grambling still has significant challenges ahead. It should receive the results of its legislative audit in mid-fall and the SACS decision in December. We don’t want to distract the university and System staff from these challenges by introducing the intensity of a national search,” UL System President Sally Clausen said.
Grambling has been on SACS probation since December of 2001. Last year, after the university received its first positive legislative audit in five years, the accrediting body extended the university’s probation but continued its accreditation for “good cause” for one additional year so it could see evidence of progress at Grambling “for a longer period of time.”
Officials are hoping that when the accrediting body meets in December, its vote will be to reaffirm Grambling’s accreditation, eliminating the uncertainty that has plagued the university in recent years.
SACS accreditation is considered to be crucial to Grambling’s survival. Without it, Grambling students would be ineligible for federal financial aid. Currently about 92 percent of Grambling students receive such aid.
“There is no doubt that the next few months are critical for Grambling. We want to know that we are leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to succeed,” UL System Board Vice Chair Mike Woods said.
Clausen said she and the System staff have been dedicated to assisting the university with resolving financial and accreditation concerns. At the same time, the System staff has begun to make preparations for the presidential search so the process can begin immediately following the SACS decision.
The search will be similar to previous searches conducted recently at the University of Louisiana at Monroe and Nicholls State University in Thibodaux where best practices established them as “models” for our System. Both featured public meetings and candidate interviews on campus which were open to the public and encouraged public comment and participation.
“We certainly don’t want to be presumptuous, but as we focus this fall on Grambling’s financial and accreditation challenges, we also want to set the stage for what we believe will be life after accreditation,” Clausen said.
Grambling Acting President Neari Warner has served in that capacity since previous president Steve Favors resigned in January 2001.
The inability of legislative auditors to balance Grambling’s books and to sign off on its financial statements prompted the university’s accreditation difficulties with SACS. Although it received a favorable audit last year, there were areas identified as needing improvement.
Woods acknowledged the efforts of Grambling Chief Financial Officer Billy Owens and his staff and directed them to maintain their diligence.
UL System Vice President for Accreditation, Leadership and Accountability Loren Blanchard, who is working with Grambling to address accreditation challenges, said although there is still much work to be done, the Grambling administration, faculty and staff are focused on the challenges.
“All in all, we’re making progress,” he said.
The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is the recognized regional accrediting body in the eleven U.S. Southern states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia) and in Latin America for those institutions of higher education that award associate, baccalaureate, master’s or doctoral degrees. Universities’ accreditations are reaffirmed every 10 years.
The University of Louisiana System includes eight universities: Grambling, Louisiana Tech University, McNeese State University, Nicholls State University, Northwestern State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, University of Louisiana at Lafayette and University of Louisiana at Monroe.
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