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LSU President William Tate IV officially take reigns, lays out plans to address sex assault allegations, Covid, and academic issues

Published: Jul. 6, 2021 at 6:42 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - New LSU President William Tate officially took the reigns Tuesday, July 6.

Tate was lured away from the University of South Carolina where he served as Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost.

The new president spent the day meeting with different student and faculty groups as he tried to get acclimated to Louisiana’s flagship university.

Tate was thrown into the fire early as he faced tough questions during a press scramble about a variety of topics, including recent reports detailing LSU’s failures to report incidents of sexual violence on campus. Tate said he has to regain the trust of students and make sure policies are in place to ensure students are safe.

“You have to create processes people trust, and in the end we’re going to be tested with those processes over time and we’re going to have to pivot and improve and it’s a continual improvement process,” Tate said. “Title IX is such a unique challenge across the United States of America and clearly LSU has had its own problems. I think the key is for us as a collective community to processes that are reliable and valid based upon best science and public health information and that when tested, they work.”

He said he has not been able to speak with the athletic department regarding the allegations. Athletics has largely been the focus of investigations into the Title IX failures. Tate said he does plan to have that conversation.

“Nothing ever changes in terms of the history of what’s happened,” he said. “There has been people that have been traumatized. People don’t get around that and that’s what we’re going to have to live with and we’ve got to do right by those people by doing better.”

On the academic side, Tate expressed a desire to make LSU as competitive in the classroom as it is on the field. He wants to focus on investing in academic infrastructure such as labs, and bringing recruiting top faculty and grad students to further the university’s research.

“That level of competition that happens here for SEC Football or Basketball, we’ve got to compete like that to beat Alabama, we’re already ahead of Alabama academically, but we gotta compete like that though to beat the Georgia’s of the world, the Florida’s, the Vanderbilt’s,” he said.

Tate also faces dealing with a student base returning this fall that largely has not gotten vaccinated. According to LSU, only approximately 26% of the student population has gotten the shot. Tate, who has a masters in psychiatric epidemiology said the numbers are worrisome, adding he is looking at what incentives the University can provide to encourage more students to get inoculated.

“My hope is that we will have much higher rates by the fall and it will continue to grow. Literally, we’re bringing a small city back to this geospatial region and that small city is a vector,” he said. “I want to make sure those folks are actually vaccinated so we can have a safe learning environment.”

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