Louisiana State University President Heading to Oregon Job
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana State University is looking for a new system chief, after President F. King Alexander was appointed Friday to lead Oregon State University.
Oregon State’s Board of Trustees unanimously agreed to hire Alexander in a special meeting, confirming that Alexander was leaving the LSU job he’s held for more than six years. He’ll start his new position in Corvallis, overseeing a university with 32,000 students, on July 1, though Alexander said he’ll start working with the transition team in April.
“We found the best of the best, Dr. F. King Alexander. From our perspective, Dr. Alexander is the total package,” said Rani Borkar, chair of the Oregon State University Board of Trustees.
Borkar described Alexander as a strong leader who helped diversify LSU’s student enrollment and advocated nationally for college affordability and research institutions.
Alexander, 56, who appeared at the board meeting, praised the land-grant institution and told those assembled: “I’m just thrilled to death to be the 15th president of Oregon State University.”
In a phone call after the meeting, Alexander told The Associated Press he had “mixed emotions” about leaving LSU. He said he didn’t seek another position, but was recruited by Oregon State officials starting in April.
His last day as LSU president will be Dec. 31. The university said he’ll be a faculty member, conducting research and working with the system’s governing board on the transition, until March 31.
Alexander will succeed Ed Ray, who is retiring from the Oregon State job at the end of June after 17 years as president. Ray will continue in a teaching role at the university.
At LSU, Alexander has been in charge of a multibillion-dollar system with 50,000 students across four university campuses, a law school and medical schools in New Orleans and Shreveport. His salary, including housing and car allowances, topped $660,000 a year. His pay package with Oregon State, according to the employment agreement, includes $630,000 in salary, an additional car allowance and supplemental retirement pay. He’ll also be provided with a university residence.
When he took charge at LSU, the university system was struggling through years of state budget cuts. Alexander was a vocal proponent of increased financing for his campuses and spoke frankly and publicly about the damage he believed was being done by the slashing. The cuts have ended, and the governor and state lawmakers recently boosted higher education spending.
The exiting LSU president noted the flagship university in Baton Rouge will see its largest-ever fall graduating class next week and has broken records on academic achievement.
“We’re leaving it in good shape. The university has great momentum thanks to the people there,” Alexander said.
Alexander’s tenure provoked some controversy, including about his decision to loosen some admissions standards. But he recently received a positive job evaluation by the university system’s governing board. In a statement, Board of Supervisors chair Mary Werner thanked Alexander “for his outstanding leadership at LSU and his untiring advocacy for public higher education.”
LSU law school dean Thomas Galligan will serve as interim president while the university system board conducts what it described as a national search to replace Alexander.
Alexander’s departure for another university had been rumored for months.
Before his hiring by LSU in 2013, the Oxford-educated Alexander had worked as president of California State University Long Beach. The Kentucky native was raised in Florida and has held positions at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana; University of Wisconsin, Madison; and University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He was president of Murray State University in Kentucky from 2001 to 2006, a job previously held by his father.
Alexander’s degrees are in political science and comparative education policy.
By AP reporter Melinda Deslatte