New LSU head F. King Alexander officially starts the job
By Jeremy HarperPosted Jun 26, 2013
On Monday, nearly three months after he was formally named to the post, F. King Alexander officially began his tenure as the new LSU President and Chancellor.
Alexander spoke to parents at a freshman orientation on Monday, his first day on campus, then met with incoming freshmen Tuesday in a campus dining hall, shaking hands and chatting with dozens of students and staff members during lunch.
“It’s overwhelming,” Alexander said during a break. “At the same time, it’s refreshing, it’s nice. Students are students and their optimism is contagious.
“Quite honestly the only thing that really changes in what you hear about this type of optimism about the future is maybe the accent.”
Alexander faces the enormous and controversial task of consolidating a sprawling system of four campuses, a law school, two medical schools and a variety of other facilities and institutions. The first step, he said, is to simply start a discussion.
“A lot of it is not necessarily rocket science because it’s collaboration and communication,” he said. “I think building that foundation … and bringing us together on a regular basis to talk about what we can do together.
“It’s about communication and collaboration, and we’re going to do a lot of that. We’re one team, really. We’re one team throughout this state to address every problem this state has and to tackle higher education on behalf of every student in this state.”
Alexander’s tenure at LSU opens amid criticism from faculty members over his credentials and the secretive process with which he was chosen. The search committee conducted interviews with candidates in private and only sent Alexander’s name to the full Board of Supervisors, which quickly approved the recommendation. The board has also refused to turn over names of other candidates despite a district court ruling ordering it to do so.
The Faculty Senate later unanimously passed a resolution of “no confidence” in the Board of Supervisors, criticizing the closed selection process. The Senate has also noted that graduation rates at Alexander’s previous institution are lower than those at LSU, and it has criticized the fact that Alexander has never been a tenured full professor at a major research university.
Faculty Senate President Kevin Cope has called the selection of Alexander an “unfair and ultimately, undemocratic, and secretive process.”
Alexander comes to LSU from California State University Long Beach, where he served as president. Before CSU Long Beach, Alexander served as president of Murray State University in Kentucky. He also held positions at the University of Illinois and the University of Wisconsin. He holds a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of Wisconsin Madison.
He created a new Twitter handle for his new job, @lsuprez, and on Monday tweeted: “What a great first day! Thanks for the well wishes and support!”