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LSU President F. King Alexander at the Main Baton Rouge Library on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019.

LSU President F. King Alexander told The Los Angeles Times that he is leaving his options “open” – though his wife is fond of the weather in Southern California – when asked about his name being included among potential candidates to fill presidencies at one of the two university systems in California.

“Very flattering and both very important positions. But that was news to me as well,” Alexander texted The Advocate Monday afternoon.

Alexander, 56, came to LSU in July 2013 after heading Cal State Long Beach for seven years. He shepherded the LSU System through tough budgetary times when the Louisiana Legislature and former Gov. Bobby Jindal slashed state appropriations for higher education by roughly half. Gov. John Bel Edwards stopped cutting university budgets in 2016.

California universities face issues of having limited spaces for students and lower state financial support than in the past, Alexander told The Times, adding that California needs to increase funding for its colleges and universities.

“It’s a great place,” Alexander told The Los Angeles Times. “California public higher education is kind of like the Rose Bowl — the granddaddy of them all.”

While hundreds of academics likely will be considered to lead the two systems, The Times stated that Alexander’s name was mentioned at faculty meetings.

In a rarity, both university systems in California will soon be without a leader. UC President Janet Napolitano and Cal State Chancellor Timothy P. White have both announced they would step down next summer.

The California State University system is the largest four-year university system in the nation with 482,000 students on 23 campuses.

The University of California system has 280,000 students on 10 campuses including some of the nation’s leading research universities. The system also has five medical centers, three affiliated national laboratories and a $37.2 billion, which is larger that the state of Louisiana’s.

LSU has about 45,000 students, operates six campuses, two medical schools, a hospital, a cooperative extension service, a healthcare research institution and has oversight of the private administrators state’s charity hospitals.

Email Mark Ballard at mballard@theadvocate.com.