Louisiana Board of Regents members who are handling the search for a new state higher education commissioner will be in Kenner this week for “meetings with interested individuals” at the New Orleans Hilton Airport.
Twenty-five people have been under consideration for Louisiana’s top higher education leadership post, but the state board has declined to release their names.
It remains unclear how many people are being brought in or who they are.
Board spokeswoman Katara Williams said the board is bringing in individuals who have asked to meet with board members before deciding whether to seek the position.
“Similarly, the board deems such a preliminary face-to-face meeting necessary to determine its level of interest,” Williams said in an email. “Once these meetings take place, the board will be in a better position to assess the mutual interest of each individual and the board.”
She said the board will identify candidates once mutual interest is established.
“I assure you that the board, at that time, will announce those names and I will provide their résumés, background information and qualifications of those individuals,” she said.
Similar meetings could be held if none of the people brought in this week share a mutual interest with the board, she said.
The state is paying a Washington, D.C.-based firm, AGB Search, up to $75,000 for its assistance and related expenses.
An earlier timeline released by the board said semifinalists would be announced Aug. 28 and finalists would be selected this week. The goal, it said, is to have a final decision next month.
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 new commissioner will report to the 15 regents appointed by the governor and one student board member.
In August, the commissioner search committee went into a closed-door meeting and didn’t openly discuss or identify candidates under consideration. The committee includes Board of Regents Chairman Clinton “Bubba” Rasberry and members Albert Sam II, Mark Abraham, Charlotte Bollinger, Raymond Brandt, Joseph Farr, Chris Gorman and Robert Levy.
Jim McCormick, of AGB Search, said at the time that candidates hadn’t yet been vetted for interest and the list includes people who were nominated by others.
The search for a new commissioner formally launched in July, after the Louisiana Legislature, in the final days of the 2014 session, handed the Board of Regents the authority to set the higher education commissioner’s salary — a task previously left to a legislative committee.
The state Senate must still confirm the finalist for the job, though that’s typically a formality.
Former higher education commissioner Jim Purcell quietly left the post in March after three years on the job.
Officials have said the new commissioner will be paid in the mid-$300,000 range. Purcell was paid $275,000.
In the listing for the job, the Board of Regents said it wanted “a highly qualified individual to build efficiently and effectively upon a sound academic tradition. The commissioner will be called upon to guide and support the systems’ higher education needs for traditional, nontraditional and online learners for a population across the state.”