- Associated Press - Thursday, June 4, 2015

GRAMBLING, La. (AP) - The new Grambling State University president says he wants to balance athletics and academics to provide more opportunities for students.

Willie D. Larkin will become the ninth president of the university when he begins July 1.

The Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System named him to the post Thursday. He was one of five candidates they interviewed on campus this week.

“I’ve been working for this my entire life. I thank my mom and dad. Although they’re not living anymore, they’d be extremely proud,” Larkin said, according to a news release from the UL System.

Grambling State is a historically black university in rural northern Louisiana founded in 1901 with about 5,000 students in 47 degree programs.

Larkin is currently chief of staff to the president of Morgan State University in Maryland. He earned his doctorate in agricultural education extension from The Ohio State University, specializing in 4-H and Youth Development. He earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Tuskegee University.

“Coming from an agricultural rural background, the oldest of eight children, born to uneducated parents and getting the opportunity to leave that sharecropper farm and go to college and get a college education, most people would say, ‘You’re really not supposed to be where you are. You’re not supposed to have accomplished what you’ve accomplished,’” Larkin said in the news release.

UL System president and search committee chairwoman Sandra Woodley said board members will work with Larkin during the transition and after he begins the job, to help the university reach its potential.

“The board was looking for a visionary leader for Grambling, and I think they found it in Dr. Larkin,” Woodley said.

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