Southern University is expected to name a new president and chancellor by the end of the day Friday.
The remaining two finalists for the job — White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities Deputy Director Ivory Toldson and Southern University Shreveport Chancellor Ray Belton — spent Thursday on the Baton Rouge campus meeting with stakeholders.
“We have an obligation to establish priorities at an institutional level,” Belton told a gathering of staff. “Budgets reflect our priorities.”
Toldson said he envisions a more unified system, where credits seamlessly transfer across campuses and where faculty and staff are given opportunities for self-improvement.
“I believe everyone should be built up to the point that people want to steal them away, but they don’t want to leave,” he said.
Belton and Toldson will have another round of interviews Friday, before the Southern University System Board of Supervisors selects one for the job.
The merger of the top two positions on campus and how that will affect future operations was a key topic on people’s minds during Thursday’s meetings.
Both Toldson and Belton said they support the dual president-chancellor role and think it will be best for Southern in the long run.
“As someone who has really watched closely the interaction between the president and chancellor over the years, there seems to have been some level of confusion over who was over what,” Toldson said. “I’m very optimistic about this change.”
Belton said that uncertainty remains over how the merger will play out. Leaders largely have left that unresolved to give the new leader a chance to outline his own vision.
“I think it does require input from a number of constituencies on the campus,” Belton said.
Southern University President Ron Mason recently was picked to lead the University of the District of Columbia. The Southern University board had earlier decided not to renew his contract past its June 30 expiration.
Meanwhile, the system’s Baton Rouge campus has been without a permanent chancellor since last year’s ouster of Chancellor James Llorens.