HAMMOND, La.– A committee charged with selecting a new president for Southeastern Louisiana University held its first meeting Tuesday and heard comments from students, faculty, staff and community members about the qualifications and priorities for the next president.
The committee of community and campus representatives and University of Louisiana System Board members expects to make its decision in early 2009. The committee will engage a national search firm in the next few weeks and will place advertisements for the position in national higher education publications.
“This is consistent with how the system has conducted searches in the past. We want to leave no stone unturned as we look for a leader to bring Southeastern to the next level,” said UL System President Randy Moffett.
Moffett, who serves as non-voting chair of the search committee, is the former president of Southeastern. He vacated the position in July, after he was named president of the UL System.
With more than 15,000 students, Southeastern is Louisiana’s third largest public university. The university was recently named “a great college to work for” by the Chronicle of Higher Education.
UL System Board Chair Elsie Burkhalter of Slidell, a Southeastern alumna, said the standing-room-only crowd was indicative of the strong place that the university holds in the region.
“This will always be a family, no matter how much we grow,” she said.
Since 1990, Southeastern has been one of the fastest growing universities in the state, with an enrollment growth that has exceeded the state average. At the same time, the university increased admission requirements and its regional and statewide profile.
“I remember when for some people Southeastern was a default university. You came here if you couldn’t get in somewhere else. This is no longer the case,” Columbia Theater director Donna Gay Anderson told the committee.
The university has an annual economic impact of $550 million and is a catalyst for economic development along I-12, playing a central role in work force development, strategic partnerships, the generation and transfer of ideas and technology and enhancing the quality of life in communities throughout the region.
“Parishes along I-12 have come to count on the university for business resources, statistics and other services,” said Tangipahoa Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Bob Basford. “It’s important to select a new president who understands the importance of Southeastern’s services to the community.”
The UL System has contracted with a firm to conduct an institutional review of the campus, as it has for other campuses undergoing a presidential search.
For more information about the Southeastern search, visit the UL System’s website at www.ulsystem.net and click on the Southeastern search icon.