November 17, 2020 – The Louisiana State University presidential search committee voted unanimously on Friday to hire Atlanta-based Parker Executive Search to assist in its hunt for a new president. F. King Alexander left the school after a little more than six years at the helm to run Oregon State University. Thomas Galligan Jr., dean of LSU’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center, has served as interim president since the start of 2020.
Board of supervisors immediate past-chair Mary Werner led the subcommittee that searched for firms. She said the subcommittee conducted interviews with seven recruiting outfits over two days. The subcommittee then narrowed that roster down to three: WittKieffer, Anthem Executive and Parker Executive Search.
According to the LSUReveille, the university’s student newspaper, the presidential search committee discussed all three firms at length at its meeting Friday, highlighting the pros and cons of each one before voting for the firm it hired. “The firms that rose to the top – everybody had a connection to LSU in some form or fashion, so they were all familiar with us in some form or another,” said Ms. Werner.
LSU vice president for legal affairs and general counsel Winston DeCuir said Parker has a “real understanding” of SEC schools. “They did a lot of work in the Deep South,” he said. “They understand the political dynamic and they have some experience placing diverse candidates at predominately white schools in the Deep South, which they talked about at length.”
Mr. DeCuir said the LSU Foundation has offered to fund the cost for the search firm; he is hoping to have Parker under contract this week.
LSU-Eunice director of student success and search committee member Jessica Jones said she liked that Parker had “relatability” because it has worked with different schools in the area. She praised the diversity of the team at Parker. “I think they’re very invested in the diversity piece,” she said.
“Our intention is that the search committee will identify individuals who have led or are capable of leading one of the nation’s premier academic, research and healthcare enterprises,” said Robert Dampf, LSU board chair. “We aim to be a leader in educating future leaders, conducting research that brings understanding and solutions to our challenges, and extending the knowledge of the university well beyond the borders of our campuses.”
LSU comprises eight campuses stretching across Louisiana and includes more than 50,000 students and research expenditures amounting to $360 million. Within LSU are two health sciences centers offering various levels of degrees in medicine, dentistry, allied health, nursing, public health and graduate studies. LSU’s flagship campus, located in the state capital of Baton Rouge, is Louisiana’s top public institution enrolling some 32,000 students studying in nearly 200 bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and specialist programs.
LSU wants a dynamic person to serve as president, someone who can lead the continued effort of positioning LSU as one of the nation’s top public research universities.
Parker Executive Search conducts executive searches for corporations, colleges and universities and collegiate athletics. The firm has a wide range of client schools, including Notre Dame, Dartmouth, the University of Chicago, Iowa State, Fordham, University of Central Florida, University of Oregon, Clemson University, the University of Tennessee and Iowa State University, among many others.
Search firm president Laurie Wilder is responsible for the strategic leadership and day-to-day operations of the firm. She has been with Parker for 19 years and is responsible for leading the development and delivery of recruiting strategies and best practices across the firm’s practice areas. She is involved in all aspects of the search process and has conducted over 1,000 leadership assignments.
Her experience spans across AAU public research universities, regional and state colleges, as well as private liberal arts institutions. She has recruited for leadership positions across all levels of higher education and collegiate athletics. Ms. Wilder has also actively worked on middle- and senior-level searches for a variety of corporate clients in the sales, marketing, material management, logistics, human resources, general management, operations, manufacturing, construction, and finance functions.
Dan Parker is the firm’s vice president and managing director. He has worked on numerous corporate vice president searches, collegiate athletic director searches and collegiate basketball, baseball and football head coach searches. Mr. Parker is also responsible for business development and candidate development.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media