- Associated Press - Friday, March 6, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Advertisements for Southern University’s newly created president and chancellor position could start appearing in national publications as early as next week.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1BeBHAG ) the panel that has been charged with identifying a new leader for the system and Southern University’s Baton Rouge campus hopes to identify three finalists for the post by June. The full system board will make its pick by July 1.

“There’s no lack of interest,” said Albert Sam, a former member of the state Board of Regents who is leading the Southern search committee. “This is a historic position for Southern University.”

Outgoing President Ronald Mason’s contract expires June 30, and the Baton Rouge campus has been without a permanent chancellor since last year’s ouster of James Llorens.

Last month, the Southern University System Board of Supervisors voted to combine the president and chancellor jobs - a streamlining and cost-cutting move that members hope will show state lawmakers that they are committed to being more efficient. Southern leaders had started and abruptly stopped a search for a new president late last year, before a turnover in the system board.

The move comes as Louisiana’s colleges and universities brace for deep budget cuts in the coming year. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s executive budget recommendation has about a $211 million gap in funding for higher education compared with this year, and even that relies on a rollback of some tax credits. If that proposal doesn’t work out, then the hit to colleges could swell to more than $500 million.

The prospect of further cuts to already cash-strapped Southern University hangs like a cloud over the latest search for a new leader.

This is the third Southern search for committee member Pat Magee, a system board member, Southern alum and attorney from Lafayette.

“This time, we have absolutely no choice; we have to find the best and the brightest,” Magee said. “If we get it wrong, God bless us.”

The sentiment was expressed by several others on the search panel.

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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