BREAKING: Rousse chosen as eighth president of McNeese State University

Published 4:01 pm Thursday, April 25, 2024

Wade Rousse has been unanimously chosen as the eighth president of McNeese State University by the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana.

Rousse has worked at McNeese since 2019, most recently serving as the executive vice president of McNeese. He has also served as vice president of university advancement and as dean and professor in the College of Business.

Rick Gallot, president and CEO of the UL System, said Rousse’s notable achievements as executive vice president include “organizational restructuring, academic program review and fostering transparency at McNeese.”

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He holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Nicholls State University, a master’s in business administration from the University of New Orleans and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The first three years of his undergraduate were spent on McNeese’s campus before transferring to Nicholls to finish out his degree.

He has previous administrative and educational experience at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Ariz.

Rousse was a finalist alongside Andy Benoit, vice president of enrollment management at Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi. Both finalists were interviewed by the board during a special board meeting on Thursday in Baton Rouge.

In his opening remarks, Rousse spoke to his appreciation for McNeese, especially following the disastrous hurdles the campus has faced since 2020.

“I’m proud to be a member of the McNeese family — a family consisting of faculty, staff, students and community that continue to pull together to make sure that we advance our university to be able to change lives for generations to come,” he said. “Looking back, I’m humbled to have played a small role on a leadership team that navigated these challenges and obstacles over the past four years.”

During the interview, he said his vision for McNeese includes stabilizing “enrollment to stabilize the budget, continuing to streamline the university’s operations that focus on mission-critical tasks and focusing on growth strategies.

His No. 1 priority will be to improve morale on campus by getting “down in the weeds” to improve communication on campus.

He said there is a “breakdown of shared governance” causing low morale.

Shared governance — which Rousse considers “the cornerstone of the foundation of the academy” — is made up of three parts, he said: determining shared objectives, delegating tasks and accountability.

Accountability is a piece of shared governance that the university sometimes fails to do efficiently, he explained. He believes improved accountability and clear objectives for faculty, staff and administration will quickly improve morale.

Rousse will be succeeding Daryl Burckel, who has served as McNeese’s president since 2017.