William F. Tate IV will be the first Black person to head LSU after a unanimous vote by the Board of Supervisors on Thursday.
The board spent much of Thursday interviewing the three finalists before debating for 90 minutes behind closed doors, then voting to offer Tate the job of LSU system president and chancellor of the flagship — a job that one supervisor described as being a combatant in a political knife fight.
Tate is the provost of the University of South Carolina.
The other two finalists were Kelvin Droegemeier, who was President Donald Trump’s science adviser, and Jim Henderson, who is president of the University of Louisiana system’s nine public colleges. All three were questioned for more than an hour each.
Tate grew up on the southside of Chicago, “which means I’m really from Mississippi,” he said. Both his grandparents were part of the Great Migration between the two world wars when more than 100,000 Black Mississippians moved north for work and a chance to live in a less repressive environment.
Former LSU President F. King Alexander defended his record at LSU in a radio interview Wednesday, saying that he worked to diversify the unive…
Tate learned of the LSU job at a dinner in the Governor’s Mansion prior to attending the Oct. 24 football game between South Carolina and LSU. He was with University of South Carolina President Bob Caslen.
He sat next to LSU board Chair Robert Dampf. At the time, Tate said the discussion about the LSU presidential search was just entertaining small talk. Later, Tate was contacted by the firm searching for candidates.
Tate said the University of South Carolina is battling a sexual harassment scandal similar to LSU’s, and he walked into the middle of it a year ago when the became the chief academic officer at the university. Tate has been criticized by students on the South Carolina campus for not dealing with the accused harsh enough.
Tate said a lawsuit has been filed, which muddies the situation.
He added that he remained silent during the face of protests, blog rants and Twitter posts to avoid further traumatizing the victims. He said if he were forced to comment in those circumstances, “I’ll walk away from any job in America.”
“You have to deal with the perpetrator or he will continue to act,” replied Board of Supervisors member Jay Blossman, of Mandeville.
Tate said he removed the accused professor from campus and fired him from his administrative duties the day…