After 45 years in higher education, William Nunez III will be stepping down as chancellor of LSU-Eunice, a position he’s held for nearly two decades.

An alumnus of the LSU system, Nunez returned to his roots as chancellor at LSU-E in 1996 and will retire in June 2015. In addition to being chancellor, he also has continued to teach biology at the university.

“We have some wonderful programs here, particularly in health sciences,” Nunez said of the community college located in Acadia Parish near the boundaries of Evangeline and St. Landry parishes.

“We really provide students with an outstanding two-year background. Once they make it out of here, they can make it anywhere.”

Nunez credits close-knit Acadiana families for providing the school with outstanding students.

“Kids come here with their heads screwed on nice and tight,” he said, “and you can do something with a student like that. They have a sense of work ethic and sense of pride and direction.”

However, he expressed frustration about the changing expectations the nation has set for students.

He recalled when the U.S. was ranked No. 1 in the world for areas like space travel and mathematics.

Now, Nunez said, the country has “lost something important.”

But he said that’s not what led to his decision to retire.

“You get to a certain point in life when your mind gets stronger than your back. Your body tells you, this is it. You eat dinner and you pass out,” he quipped.

Prior to working at LSU-E, he served as vice chancellor for academic affairs and a professor of biology at Indiana University in Kokomo, Indiana.

Over the span of his career, he has been a member of several professional academic and scientific societies and has served as director for more than 15 basic research grants in immunology and microbiology.

Nunez’s wife, Adele, also has worked in education and was once the principal of Cathedral-Carmel Elementary School. Now, she works as a reading program coach for the Acadia Parish schools. Nunez and his wife have two children and three grandchildren.

William Nunez said he may eventually return to teaching part time. Until then, he and his wife plan to move to New Orleans to be near family.

Ernie Ballard, an LSU spokesperson, said the university will conduct a national search for the next chancellor. However, he could not confirm when the search will begin.