Southern University Chancellor James Llorens has begun shaking up his administration, starting with appointing a new second-in-charge on campus.
Janet Rami, dean of Southern’s School of Nursing, took over this week as the new interim provost and executive vice chancellor.
Rami replaces Mwalimu Shujaa, who is being shifted over as Southern’s interim Graduate School dean.
Shujaa came to Southern as the provost under previous Chancellor Kofi Lomotey in 2008.
Neither Rami nor Shujaa
responded to interview requests.
Joseph Meyinsse, who has headed the Graduate School for about two years, is returning to his previous position heading the science and math education doctoral program.
Llorens, who took over as chancellor July 1, said national searches will begin soon for the provost and Graduate School dean positions because both are only interim for
Llorens previously headed the Graduate School as well.
Citing ongoing budget problems at the university and the need for greater academic reorganization, Llorens said it was time to start making some adjustments.
“I think with the challenges facing us, I wanted to get the right leadership skills set to address these challenges,” Llorens said. “I’ve known Dr. Rami for a long time and worked with her … She’ll be a valuable asset to me.”
Southern frequently touts nursing as one of its strongest academic programs.
Southern Faculty Senate President Sudhir Trivedi expressed some concern that the faculty was not consulted or formally told about the changes, but he praised
Llorens said he is planning to propose a more widespread reorganization of the administration and academic
programs to the Southern Board of Supervisors in November.
The university must evolve to meet the reality of Southern’s diminishing student enrollment during a time of stricter university accountability goals and tougher student admission standards in Louisiana, he said.
“It’s a pretty ambitious timeline,” Llorens said. “We can’t afford to … just sit back until next year.”
He noted that two issues are driving the changes.
“One, of course, is the budget situation,” Llorens said. “But, at the same time, there’s a belief that we can create an academic structure that meets the demand of students … and the workforce demands.”
But the fear is that another potential round of state budget cuts in December or January could cause more problems and layoffs, he said.