SU System Begins Search For New Leader

BATON ROUGE (AP) — A Southern University System search committee hopes to have recommendations for a new system president next month.

         At its first meeting Wednesday, the panel outlined a speedy process for naming a replacement for Ronald Mason, whose contract expires June 30, 2015. The process includes a two-week application period, interviews in early December and a recommendation to the board by Dec. 12, The Advocate’s Elizabeth Crisp reports.

         "We're going to have to work harder, but I believe it can be done," search committee Chairman Joe Gant said. "It's incumbent upon us to get a leader to lead this ship."

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         The group isn't using an outside search firm. All applicants' names will be public.

         The Board of Supervisors decided in August not to extend Mason's contract past June 30. The vote followed months of infighting and at least one board member calling for Mason's immediate resignation.

         Some, including Mason, say the system should merge the jobs of system president and flagship campus chancellor, as LSU has done. This search committee is only looking for a new president, Gant said.

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         Longtime finance administrator Flandus McClinton, Jr., is serving indefinitely as acting chancellor while the system board considers choices.

         The Southern University Law Center chancellor's contract will expire next year. The board gave Freddie Pitcher a six-month extension, through June, and granted a similar extension to Agriculture Chancellor Leodrey Williams.

         Gant said he believes the system should name a president before new chancellors so the new leader has a say in filling those positions. "Some people, by their nature, will never work together. I think that's a fact," he said.

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         The next president probably would get compensation similar to Mason's: $374,000 a year, plus an annual $16,000 vehicle allowance and $36,000 yearly housing allowance.

         Leon Tarver, a member of the Southern University System board who was system president from 1997 through 2005 and is vice chairman of the search committee, expressed some hesitation during about the speedy process for finding a new system leader.

         "This is a huge decision for someone to make, to apply for this post," he said.

         Gant said he's not worried, and will be willing to push back the schedule if the committee doesn't feel that it has a qualified applicant pool.

         "It's important to me that we get this work done," he said.

         He said he ideally would like to have three candidates. The job listing will be posted to Southern University websites in the coming days. The committee expects to take applications from Friday through Dec. 1.

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