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Budget Troubles Slow Grambling State Presidential Search

BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana’s budget problems are making Grambling State University’s presidential search more difficult, with possible job applicants apparently worried they’d be walking into a financial mess.

University of Louisiana System President Sandra Woodley released a letter this week from the search firm hired to recruit candidates that says the threat of deep budget cuts has stymied efforts to find a new Grambling leader.

The Hollins Group said some potential candidates won’t consider applying until the financial future of the historically Black college is clearer. The search firm said candidates want to make sure Grambling has a “positive future” before they’d accept a job offer.

“The best current and potential candidates have numerous career options. It is very unlikely they will put an offer on hold from a stable institution to wait for Grambling’s budget issues to clarify,” Lawrence Hollins, president of the search firm, said in the letter.

He added that candidates “tell us they are not interested in going to an institution where they may be asked to ‘roll it up’ basically upon arrival.”

The state faces a $1.6 billion shortfall in the budget year that begins July 1, and Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration is expected to propose higher education cuts ranging from $300 million to $400 million. That would be a state financing cut of about 40 percent across Louisiana’s public colleges, and Grambling would have to take its share.

Woodley said the search committee may need to change its timeline for finding a new president when it meets Feb. 24. She said the search firm has postponed identifying candidates for the job until that meeting.

“I am anxious, as we all are, to move the search forward as quickly as possible. However, I also feel a responsibility to make sure we discuss and address unexpected issues with the candidate pool associated with the budget uncertainty,” Woodley said in an email update on the search.

While the University of Louisiana System board searches for a permanent president, it appointed Cynthia Warrick as interim president to replace Frank Pogue, who retired in June. Warrick has said she won’t apply for the permanent position.

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