A Florida educator with ties to south Louisiana was named Tuesday to be the next president of Nicholls State University.

Jay Clune, interim dean of the graduate school at the University of West Florida, was picked by the Board of Supervisors of the University of Louisiana System.

"I will make you proud," Clune told the board moments after the vote. 

"Nicholls means the world to me," he said. "The region means the world to me."

A pay package will be worked out by UL System President Jim Henderson and others.

Clune, 53, is a native of Houma. He received his undergraduate degree from the school and said he has long wanted to return.

"Two of my three sisters graduated from Nicholls," Clune said in a Sept. 29 letter to the board.

"My nephew and niece attend the university now, and a second nephew is scheduled to start there next fall," he wrote. "Simply put, Nicholls has long been home to the Clune family."

Clune earned his master's degree in Latin American studies from the University of Alabama and his Ph.D in history from LSU.

Clune has worked at the University of West Florida in Pensacola for the past 13 years. It has about 13,000 students, including roughly 3,000 graduate students. 

He was picked over John Doucet, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Nicholls and Marcheta Evans, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio.

The board made its decision after public presentations from all three candidates.

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Each was then interviewed by the board behind closed doors.

The new president, the sixth for the school, will succeed Bruce T. Murphy, who announced his plans to resign in September.

Murphy's departure is effective Dec. 31.

He has held the job since 2014 and decided to quit the presidency to pursue other higher education opportunities, the school said at the time.

Doucet's bid for the presidency sparked testimonials from about 10 friends and colleagues who urged the board to name him.

The presentation by Clune, who was accompanied by his wife and two daughters, was the briefest of the three candidates.

Responding to a question, he said he told the faculty and staff of the school that pay would never be an issue left on the back-burner.

Clune said school officials need to tackle the issue of diversity "and I am ready to do that."

Nicholls State University, which is in Thibodaux, has about 6,400 students, two-thirds of whom are white.

The UL System has nine schools, including Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, the University of New Orleans and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell.