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Board of Supervisors names Dr. William Tate IV as next LSU president, first African American at LSU & in SEC to hold position

Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 10:01 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The LSU Board of Supervisors has voted to hire Dr. William Tate as the university’s next president.

Tate will be the first African American to hold the position at LSU and in the SEC. The board voted 15-0 in favor of Tate.

The announcement was made Thursday, May 6, after the three finalists for the position were interviewed by the board earlier in the day.

Dr. William Tate is the provost and executive vice president of academic affairs at the University of South Carolina. He holds the USC Education Foundation Distinguished Professorship with appointments in Sociology and Family and Preventive Medicine (secondary appointment). Prior to that, he served as dean and vice provost for graduate education at Washington University in St. Louis. Before working at Washington University in St. Louis, Tate served on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He completed a second post-doctoral training program in the Department of Psychiatry—Epidemiology and Prevention Group at the Washington University School of Medicine, where he earned a master’s degree in psychiatric epidemiology.

Dr. William Tate IV is introduced as the new LSU president.
Dr. William Tate IV is introduced as the new LSU president.(WAFB)

The two other finalists for the job were Dr. Jim Henderson and Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier.

“This is a very pivotal time at our university, from economic, environmental, social challenges, but we are doing great things at this place. From our academic achievements, our enrollment, our diversity, I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished,” said LSU Board Chair Robert Dampf. “We set about to find a great leader, and we found one.”

Dampf thanked the work of the Presidential Search Committee, chaired by James Williams, former chair of the LSU Board of Supervisors, and vice chaired by Gabriela González, Boyd Professor in the LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy, who narrowed the list of 23 candidates for president to three finalists who were invited for campus interviews, held May 2-5. He also expressed his appreciation to everyone across the LSU community who participated in some way in the search process.

Tate will replace LSU President Tom Galligan, who has served as LSU president since January 2020. Galligan recently changed his mind about seeking the job full-time. The board approved dropping the “interim” from Galligan’s title and making him LSU president until Tate takes over the role.

Tate said he is excited about being part of the LSU system but what drives him is students.

“What I’m really most excited about is I met students here who really are amazing, and for me, this position is all about what we can do to help students and give people access and opportunity in higher education,” Tate said. “That’s really in my DNA, how do we help people regardless of their background – we find the money, get you here and give you the opportunity to live your dream. I think there is no better place in the United States to come find your dream and to make it happen than right here at LSU.”

The university’s new president will face the tough task of rebuilding the university’s image after months of turmoil and negative headlines. LSU’s former president, F. King Alexander, was essentially forced to resign from his new position as president of Oregon State University after allegations surfaced that complaints of sexual misconduct among certain students and staff were mishandled during his time at LSU.

The allegations were mainly raised in a report issued by Husch Blackwell, a private law firm hired to investigate Title IX and other issues at LSU.

The Title IX program is aimed at protecting people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.

Former LSU head football coach Les Miles left his job as coach at the University of Kansas earlier this month because of issues raised during the same Husch Blackwell probe. The report raised allegations that Miles had inappropriate contact with and said inappropriate things about female LSU students. He denies the allegations.

The report also outlined various other incidents of sexual misconduct involving LSU that were not properly investigated, including allegations against former LSU football player Derrius Guice.

The board says the specifics for Dr. Tate’s contract are still being discussed.

His first day in office is July 2.

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