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John Lombardi was fired as LSU System president in April, after he clashed with Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration over higher education policy and criticism about his leadership style. (Associated Press)

John Lombardi was fired as LSU System president in April, after he clashed with Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration over higher education policy and criticism about his leadership style. (Associated Press)

LSU board launches university president search

Last Modified: Friday, November 02, 2012 6:25 PM

BATON ROUGE (AP) — The LSU System governing board began its search Friday for a new leader, a week after deciding to merge the positions of system president and chancellor of the flagship campus.

Members of the Board of Supervisors' presidential search committee gave its search consultant, William Funk, guidance on what qualities they'd like to see in a new leader.

Funk said he'll immediately start work on developing an advertisement for the job, targeting individuals and reaching out to possible candidates and seeking nominations for LSU's next president.

LSU's search comes as a slew of major universities are seeking new presidents, but Funk said the consolidation of the president and chancellor's jobs would help draw qualified people.

"I think this will now be an even more attractive position to prospective candidates," he said.

Search committee members said they wanted a leader who was a good salesman, who could work well with lawmakers, who had a strong vision of the future and who could collaborate with others. They talked of a need for the next president to understand agricultural and health care issues in a university system that is involved in both industries.

Of the seven members, only one — search committee chairman Blake Chatelain — talked of the university system's students, saying the next leader should be a "student-focused individual."

Funk stressed confidentiality, saying if names of contenders are leaked to the public, they likely would pull themselves from consideration rather than risk the attention in their current positions.

LSU lawyer Shelby McKenzie also urged secrecy and told search committee members to avoid any written communication that could identify an individual candidate because it would be subject to public records laws.

Funk's timetable for the search and interviews was estimated to be five months or more.

A new university leader will be in charge of a multibillion-dollar system of four university campuses, a law school, medical schools in New Orleans and Shreveport and a network of public hospitals and clinics across Louisiana.

But it's still unclear how the university system will be structured, as the Board of Supervisors weighs advice from a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm that proposed a significant revamp of organization for the campuses.

The board hasn't decided how extensive the reorganization will be, though board chairman Hank Danos has said he supports the concept presented by the consultant, The Association of Governing Boards, which calls for a more consolidated leadership structure overseeing the campuses.

A task force was being created to study the potential reorganization and make recommendations to the board.

John Lombardi was fired as LSU System president in April, after he clashed with Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration over higher education policy and criticism about his leadership style. Then, LSU Chancellor Mike Martin left the Baton Rouge campus to lead the Colorado State University System.

Last week, the board voted to merge those two jobs.

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