Texas Tech's Rallo to Lead Higher Ed in LA

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Texas Tech System Vice Chancellor Joseph Rallo has been selected to become Louisiana's next commissioner of higher education.

The State Board of Regents announced its unanimous vote Thursday after meeting with two finalists, Rallo and West Liberty University President Rob Capehart, for final interviews. A third candidate, Rhode Island Community College President Ray Di Pasquale, withdrew his name from consideration earlier Thursday.

The New Orleans Advocate’s Elizabeth Crisp reports Rallo's hire is pending salary negotiations. The position is expected to pay about $350,000.

The new commissioner will oversee Louisiana's four-year and two-year colleges, which enrolled 221,324 students in fall 2013 and had a combined $2.6 billion budget.

The job, which is the state's chief policy leader for public colleges, has been vacant since March, when Jim Purcell left the position he had held since February 2011.

During Thursday interviews — the only interviews open to the public — neither candidate was asked about the repeated budget cuts that the state's colleges and universities have faced or the tuition hikes they have spurred. The finalists also were not asked about Louisiana's Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, a state-funded scholarship program that has been the subject of recent debate because of its ballooning costs.

Rallo described himself to the board as an open and intuitive leader with a military background and intimate knowledge of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the accrediting body for Louisiana colleges and universities.

"To be a good system leader, you need a strong personality and a strong passion for what you do," he said.

Rallo served as president of Angelo State University for five years before he became system vice chancellor for the Texas Tech System in 2012.

He said he has a background in dealing with diverse institutions through the Texas Tech System that would translate to serve higher education in Louisiana.

Rallo speaks French and Italian. He is a retired Air Force colonel and has been invited to make presentations across the world on diversity and business issues. He also has doctoral and master's degrees from Syracuse University, a law degree from Western New England University and a bachelor's degree from Lafayette College.

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